Gig Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with Photography by Bianca Barrett

It’s bank holiday, and musical events are taking place across Birmingham –  Slam Dunk, Pride, Anastacia at the Symphony Hall. And nearly 16,000 people are making their way to the Barclaycard Arena. All ages from small kids to grandparents, rockers,  many wearing black T’s with tonight’s artists name emblazoned and some with the iconic faceprint, hair and a few in black spandex. To see a band with well over 40 years of delivering heavy metal in one of the most over-the-top performances you will every see. With a poignant nod to this week’s events, welcome all to the party, welcome to the world of KISS.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

Tonight’s gig has a cathartic feel given the week’s desperate news; but hey no one is staying away, everyone politely waits as the security maybe a tad more enhanced than the norm, and the excitement from the punters is palpable. I can’t claim to be a massive KISS fan but I defy anyone who hasn’t heard of them. More that 100 million record sales worldwide can’t be wrong. This heavy metal rock quartet were one of the first bands to actively market themselves; their stage set has always been an over the top extravaganza.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

Their stage makeup became four characters – the starchild, the demon, the spaceman and catman. Original members Paul Stanley (starchild) and Gene Simmons (demon) may be well into their sixties but hey they are here tonight in full on character, with Peter Crisis and Ace Fahey long gone, are now joined by Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thaler.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

When KISS chose to remove their make-up in the eighties – it was heresy – worse than even Metallica cutting their hair! But it did give them a commercial resurgence at the time  and some off those hits will be played tonight, amongst their extensive back catalogue.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

To warm up tonight’s proceedings it’s The Dives – an young American outfit, hailing from New York City,  playing power rock  – basically a ‘rock band playing pop music’. They go down well, and indeed are signing stuff at the merchandising stall afters.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

And so to the main act of the night. KISS formed in The venue is totally sold out and packed to the rafters, the floor full to the brim with excited standing punters.  ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ blasts out the speakers, and then (local boys)  Zeppelin with ‘Rock and Roll.’ Song completed, lights go down, huge cheer and here we go.

“You wanted the best. You got the best. The hottest band in the world!…KISS!” The be-logoed screen drops, and dropping from a platform at ceiling height, dry ice everywhere here they are: in full makeup, full dress and exactly what not you’d expect – over the top glory.  And the set? Well….  a floor to ceiling HD screen behind them, two at the side of the screen, streaming live HD performance of the band members. As the trio perform at the front of the stage, Stanley sitting on the edge , platform booted feet hanging they perform right into the HD cameras their iconic faces staring right at the 16,000 fans here tonight.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

There is HD screens on the ceiling above the stage, huge banners hang at the side, fireworks and flames, dry ice, lazers, lighting and much more. ‘Shout It Out Loud’ – we do. Two songs in Stanley asks us how we’re doing, to huge response. And then asks for a minute silence for those affected in Manchester (KISS cancelled their show due to take place in the Manchester Arena last night). The lights drop, the backdrop on the screen acknowledges the disaster, and 16,000 go silent. For a minute. Then a massive cheer. The bees, they are still buzzing.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

So back to the theatrics.  ‘ Lick It Up’ ; Simmons does his trade-mark tongue thing. And once again the front of the stage raises high, Stanley and Simmons high up above the crowd. They are exponents of performance, exponents of this stage craft engaging with the audiences, getting us to cheer to order, telling us we have to show them we are indeed the best venue ever. And 16,000 are up for the party.

When asked if we’ve every seen them before – a fair few hands go in the air – but no matter, tonight is the night to party. ‘Flaming Youth’ we get a glimpse, in all it’s HD glory, of KISS in ‘their youth.’ Then to bass – demon Simmonds, purple lit, in fill demon make-up, faux blood foaming from his mouth,  raised well over 100 feet to a stage in the roof….

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

House lights up – and we, the audience, are projected on the screen – it’s one of those night’s we all go crazy; and we sing: ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’. The hits keep coming, Simmons and Stanley scream, fireworks, flames, screens, and for Stanley a trip to the centre of the arena on a rope; a revolving stage a good 20 feet above the crowd.

KISS by Bianca Barrett

KISS by Bianca Barrett

‘Rock and Rock All Night’ and this is ridiculously and gloriously over the top. Confetti galore, ticker tape cannons, lazers, on top of the screens, two roving platforms drop from the ceiling and KISS are circulating – high above the audience. Quick break and encore – ‘I was Made for Lovin’ You’ and ‘Detroit Rock City.’ And of set lights down, epic performance completed. Phew.

KISS should be totally ridiculous. But KISS deliver a spectacular over the top full on extravaganza of hot metal fun. Both Stanley and Simmonds are well into their sixties – but you wouldn’t have known. The punters leave tonight with broad grins on their faces, singing their heads off. Tonight, in so many ways – this was what ‘we’ needed. After the desperate events last week, this was Birmingham going: we stand with you Manchester, and we ARE going do what we love and Shout It Out Loud!


Setlist:

Deuce
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
Firehouse
Shock Me
Flaming Youth
God of Thunder
Crazy Crazy Nights
War Machine
Say Yeah
Psycho Circus
Black Diamond
Rock and Roll All Night

Encore:
I Was Made For Lovin’ You
Detroit Rock City

One Response to “KISS + The Dives at The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, UK – 28th May 2017”

  1. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Anastacia at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK – 28th May 2017 Says:

    […] their favourites as they left the venue making a fun and diverse crowd as they mixed with the KISS fans from the Barclaycard Arena. All in all if anyone was on the fence about Anastacia they will […]

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