Review + Photos: KISS Help For Heroes @ HMV Forum, London UK (04.07.12)
You'd be hard pushed to find a glam band in the world that honestly couldn't list KISS amongst its influences. Wigs, fireworks, guitar smashing... coffins? You name it, KISS have done it. But what happened when the "Hottest Band in the World" decided to play to only 2,400 people in the heart of London to raise money for the Help For Heroes charity? Read on and you'll find out all about it...
In order to ensure the best possible view that evening, many fans began queuing for the show from as early as 6.30am (me included). The time spent with the fans throughout the day highlighted and demonstrated that KISS is more than a collection of past and present band members. More even than a collection of songs, rather it is something far greater, more meaningful, at least to its hardcore fan base. Given the apparently incessant release of new merchandise and collectibles, the music can arguably be viewed as secondary to the commercial machine which KISS has undoubtedly become. However it is sometimes possible to forget that these are released because there is a demand for the products, a demand which is based upon the fans’ deep rooted love of the band. This love originates primarily from the music, but beyond that, because the fans feel as though they are part of something bigger. Music holds far greater power in the lives of those who appreciate it than is often credited; it is ever present, consistently dependable, and highly emotive, music covers the spectrum of human existence, it is entirely possible to have a soundtrack to your life, and for many people KISS have written that soundtrack.
The day progressed with fans engaging in discussions about their common interest: recanting stories of past shows and meetings with band members; and testing each other’s knowledge of the more obscure KISS trivia.
Having waited outside for almost thirteen hours, the doors of the venue opened and I was greeted by the stage masked in a black sheet, KISS emblazoned in silver upon it. Anticipation grew as the fans waited patiently for the band to appear, when the opening notes of "Detroit Rock City" blasted through the venue, the sheet fell, unveiling the band behind: the crowd erupted. Fire and fireworks were not in short supply, with the kind of explosive stage show usually reserved for festivals or at the very least arenas. The band’s new release "Hell or Hallelujah" soon followed, greeted by fans with the same level of enthusiasm one might expect for one of their earlier classics. Gene prowled the stage and proceeded to breathe fire with his usual aplomb, whilst Paul strutted and gyrated his way through the hits including: "Deuce", "Shout it Out Loud" and "Love Gun". In my experience Tommy Thayer is often criticised for a lack of originality, some fans have failed to accept his use of the make-up made famous by Ace Frehley. This is not to dispute his talent and although he is by no means out of place when performing alongside Gene and Paul, his rendition of "Shock Me" is unlikely to have appeased the aforementioned fans. It was however well received by the fans present, who appreciated it for the great song that it is.
The highlight of Tommy’s performance was the guitar and drum duet which culminated in sparks shooting from the end of his guitar with such ferocity that one might be forgiven for forgetting that this was occurring in a small venue. Eric Singer didn’t miss a beat all night and provided a fine vocal performance of "Black Diamond" to end the show properly, having previously used a bazooka to bring part of the lighting rig crashing to the stage floor.
The band returned to the stage to rip through an encore consisting of: "Crazy Nights", "Lick it Up" and "Rock and Roll All Nite", the latter being the cue for white confetti to rain down upon the audience.
In summary, a KISS fan could not have asked for more, the band have survived for almost forty years because during this time they have written some incredible songs which mean so much, in many different ways, to so many different people. But if this performance demonstrated anything, it is that they still care about their live performance and about the fans. It would have been easy to put on a stripped back show and suggest that the venue could not cater for the spectacle usually provided, this was not the case, nor is it true that the band hide behind the fireworks and the gimmicks to disguise a lack of musical ability. KISS has produced an extensive back-catalogue of great songs, far too many to play in one evening. This being said, why not also put on a great show? The two are not mutually exclusive. Those present in London witnessed a special performance from a very special band, long may they continue.
More photos from the show are available here. Thank you very much to Andrew Jenkins for writing this wonderful review for us! :)
Last Updated (Tuesday, 24 July 2012 16:15)