The only curtain bigger than the KISS-emblazoned one shrouding the stage prior to KISS’s not-even-close-to-sold-out show at Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center on August 8 were the ones covering the completely empty upper tier. And then the KISS curtain dropped and the band, as per usual, gave a performance worthy of their cheekily pompous declaration that they, as always, are the “hottest band in the world.” Sure, they played four less songs than they did the last time I saw them at this very full arena, 18 years earlier, when they were touring in support of their original line-up reunion album Psycho Circus, but that’s a non-starter. All the theatrics remained—Gene Simmons’ blood-gargling and fire breathing, Paul Stanley flying out into the crowd and pitting different parts of the arena against each other, him judging which one screams the loudest. It was KISS, and you get what you get, and it’s better than most.
But, there’s simply no way it was good enough for KISS. Not a chance. Does anyone think KISS will go out like this—playing to half-empty sports arena in Podunk towns, lending only irony to the boast that they are, indeed, the “hottest band in the world?” No way.
KISS are too much about ego and too much about commerce to let their legend die like this. And as much as Simmons and Stanley may loathe performing or simply being near original guitarist Ace Frehley and original drummer Peter Criss, they know bringing those guys back in the group would fill the remaining seats in the BMO Harris Bradley Center and virtually every other sports arena they so choose. And so what if Simmons and Stanley wouldn’t even perform with those guys as recently as the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony? Axl didn’t even show up for Guns n’ Roses’ and we all saw how that turned out.
If you haven’t noticed, KISS is to hypocrisy as Gene Simmons is to monogamy.
And so what that KISS staged a farewell tour with the original line-up in 2000-2001. If you haven’t noticed, they’ve been touring ever since and, if you also haven’t noticed, KISS is to hypocrisy as Simmons is to monogamy. They can call it anything they want: “KISS Goodbye” or “KISS Off.” Who cares? Let’s face it, Simmons and Stanley aren’t getting any younger. They can’t afford to take a two or three-year break from touring and then come back for another go ‘round with Eric Singer behind the kit and Tommy Thayer on lead guitar. Unless they team with a band the ilk of Aerosmith (been there, done that) or Def Leppard (yup, did that too), they’ll, again, be playing to a KISS Army where half its soldiers have gone AWOL.
After a two or three-year break from the road, Simmons will be about 70 and Stanley a few years behind him. Yes, there other music artists are performing at that age, but most don’t do it with the same physicality (or in high heels) as KISS. The reality is KISS really only have one more legitimate full-scale tour left in them and, you heard it here first, it will be with the full, original line-up.