A legendary rock band at an iconic venue on a Friday night in Los Angeles. Talk about a wild ride — one you simply couldn’t miss if you were in the area. Now, I’ve been to the Hollywood Bowl quite a few times, for shows purportedly ‘sold out’… but this one takes the cake. You couldn’t pack any more bodies into the arena on November 3rd when KISS came to town.
The apex of spectacle, these wild men of music proffers a performance for the ages.
Aged as they are, you couldn’t tell from watching Paul Stanley shake his hips and Gene Simmons ‘lickin’ it up’… plus, advancements in technology have only helped the band. Sure, seeing them in 2023 probably pales in comparison to seeing KISS perform in their prime. But could you see the members in 4K resolution way back in the lawn section in the 80s? Or witness the drum kit blast into the sky while fireballs shoot out of Spaceman’s guitar battling simulated alien spaceships onstage in 1977? I think not. Speaking of Spaceman, Tommy Thayer fills in for Ace Frehley quite nicely while Eric Singer plays the roll of Catman without missing a beat. If it can’t be the original core four, at least there is plenty of pyrotechnics and pageantry from the new two.
But back to the Hollywood Bowl. Walking in was deafening, not just from the crowd cheering as KISS members took the stage, but from the richocheting blasts of fireworks every few seconds. They do “love it loud”, after all. The booms were enough to knock you off your feet, while military-grade lasers spiked the night sky. Welcome to “Detroit Rock City”, Los Angeles! The 1976 smasher was followed by “Shout It Out Loud”, with so many fan-favorites to follow, like “Deuce”, “Heaven’s On Fire”, and “Cold Gin”. In between songs, Paul Stanley addressed the audience in his signature squeaky way, drawing out “Los ANNNN-GeleSSSS” while purporting that this was, indeed, the last time they were ever to play the city. Having said the same thing in 2012 at the Bowl playing with Mötley Crüe, we will believe it when we see it. Judging from Friday night’s performance, KISS still has quite a bit of juice left in their engines.
From theatrical solos to comical banter, KISS kept the party going “all nite”.
As mentioned, Thayer battled aliens while Singer blasted off into space. The platforms that Stanley wore to frolic back and forth across the stage were epic in themselves. Then, there was Simmons, long tongue a lickin’ and blood a’spittin’ for “God of Thunder”. His wild eyes build suspense like a trained actor, reminiscent of a rabid werewolf struck by the moon. And in case we dared have a moment of boredom, Stanley mounted a harness to fly.
In all, KISS came, saw, squeaked, spat blood, and conquered, playing remaining monstrous hits like “Love Gun”, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”, and of course, an encore crescendoing with “Rock and Roll All Nite”. If this truly is KISS’ last time round the sun (and that’s a big IF), we are humbled to have been a part of it.
Photography by Randall Michelson / Live Nation-Hewitt Silva