15 KISS Freedom to Rock Tour Big Sandy Arena False DD/MM/YYYY
Singer and guitarist Paul Stanley, of U.S rock band, Kiss, performs on stage in London in aid of the charity Help For Heroes.
KISS Freedom to Rock Tour with The Dead Daisies
Rock supergroup The Dead Daisies opening for KISS in Huntington
After nearly 40 shows, the rock band KISS’s “Freedom to Rock” tour comes to a close Saturday night at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.
Paul Stanley (The Starchild) said it’s been a good tour.
“The response has been phenomenal,” he said. “Fans are saying it’s the best show they’ve seen, the best the band has been — and interestingly, critics seem to agree, which is suspicious, but I’ll take it.”
The “Freedom to Rock” tour, Stanley said, has been about delivering on the legend and legacy of KISS, while spotlighting the U.S. military.
Stanley promised it would be a show like no other, though acknowledged people may have seen shows similar to it.
“It’s well known that KISS DNA is in the shows of most bands,” the singer said.
For most of their careers, the members of KISS have appeared in costume and garish, black and white makeup, as they will at Saturday’s show.
It’s always been more than just about the music. The band’s arena rock anthems have been punctuated by lights, fire, explosions and the freakishly long tongue of bassist Gene Simmons.
The bombastic, theatrical performances set them apart, but light shows and fireworks have become almost standard features with any big, rock show.
With enough money, Stanley said, any band can do a KISS show.
Experience counts and in many ways, KISS are pioneers. The kind of stage show they do used to be more dangerous.
“In the early days, there were no licensed pyro-technicians,” he said. “Basically, there was an arsonist we were paying to blow things up.”
Some nights, the explosions were sort of small. Other nights, the guy handling the pyro blew a hole through the floor of the stage.
Injuries, however, were uncommon. Stanley said he took some minor burns once. Another time, he cracked a rib on a safety rail, but it could have been a lot worse.
The shows now are just better all around, but they have to be.
Stanley said KISS made their reputation on their live shows. That’s the kind of thing that has to be defended regularly.
“The show is every bit of what it was and then some,” he said. “I have to say it’s better, and it’s bigger.”
“We’re not living in the past in the sense that it’s nostalgia,” he said. “For a big part of the audience it has to be comparable and competitive with what they’ve seen recently.”
“I’ll say without a doubt, it will knock most things out of the water,” he said. “And well it should. We’ve been doing it longer.”
KISS has been around for over 40 years and nobody is more surprised by that than Stanley.
“Imagine when I started,” he said. “Rock music was just a vehicle for a manager or record label or a songwriter to get a hit.”
If a band lasted five years, Stanley said, “It was phenomenal.”
A band was just a means to sell some records and make some money, the singer said. They were, basically, employees — disposable and replaceable.
“As soon as the public grew tired of the teen idols of the moment,” Stanley said, “another was brought out.”
That began to change, he said, when bands began writing their own material.
“When you wrote material that reflected the audience, the audience grew with the band,” he said. “As long as what the band was doing was something the audience could relate to, you could continue indefinitely.”
Continuing indefinitely seems to be what KISS plans to do. Along with the touring, they’re still trying new things. The band recently released a concert DVD from their residency in Las Vegas.
Stanley said the band enjoyed the experience and likened it to doing theater.
“It was a challenge and quite novel for us,” he said. “We had to design a stage that didn’t have mobility. We brought our show into a small venue. It was like a ship in a bottle.”
Note: KISS has sent out a list of items concertgoers are prohibited from bringing into the concert. Items include:
n No professional cameras, GoPros, tripods, selfie sticks, DSLRs, Leicas
n Weapons of any kind including handcuffs, utility knives, mace, pepper spray
n Noisemaking devices (whistles, horns, instruments, bells)
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter. Follow Bill’s One Month At A Time progress on his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth/.