Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: KISS And Motley Crue Concert In Adelaide, Australia

Ian Bell | Photos by Rodney Magazinovic

Every great fairytale starts with Once Upon a Time. When you hear those words you know immediately you are about to be taken on a journey to strange and mystical places. If you allow yourself to suspend your belief and ignore the fact nothing in a fairytale is real, you will meet strange creatures, go on amazing adventures, there will be drama, colour and heart pounding action. A good fairytale will leave you exhausted and happy.

When the lights go down and a voice booms "ALRIGHT ADELAIDE - YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST, THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD - KISS!", it is rock'n'roll's finest Once Upon A Time.

Clearly the choice of signing the big drawcard double bill of KISS and 80's metal dudes MOTLEY CRUE to headline the final race day concert was a smart one for the Clipsal. It was the first time the event has been completely sold out and the Kiss t-shirts almost outnumbered the Ford and Holden ones.

Two strong local acts warmed up the crowd before Adelaide's favourite, and most bearded band The Beards, took to the stage to sing songs about beards. They went down great guns with the audience, many of whom, had beards themselves. Lead singer Joel at one point, thanked everybody for coming to see The Beards and then mentioned "There's a couple of bands on after us I think, but they don't have beards, so I wouldn't bother." Having released three CDs of songs about beards and travelled the world playing to facially haired people, the band gained many new fans tonight with songs like If Your Dad Hasn't Got a Beard You've Got Two Mums and the excellent closer You Should Consider Having Sex With a Bearded Man.

Motley Crue enter the arena by doing a walk through the audience 'd-barrier' in a gothic parade, complete with costumed security, dancing girls and most of the band members. It's all the bells and whistles with The Crue, fire cannons, scantily clad girls on the high wires, big visuals on the giant screen behind Tommy Lee's giant drum rig. They crank straight into Wild Side from 1987. There is lot's of running around the stage by bass player Nikki Six and singer Vince Neil. Shout at the Devil is next and it's rockin'. The audience is singing along, throwing the devil horns in the air and the high wire girls have turned into backing vocalists. Or have they? It becomes fairly obvious that there is some amount of smoke and mirrors in the audio side of things. Nikki's microphone hanging from the rigging is swaying all over the place and is still able to pick his voice up no matter how far away he is. Likewise the girls have no trouble hitting all the notes whilst vigorously dancing. But a Motley Crue is a fairy tale of it's own and when they are banging out metal classics like Same Old Situation and the power ballad Home Sweet Home, you just tend to forgive them a little pre-recorded help and enjoy the powerhouse performance. Tommy Lee has brought his drum rig to Adelaide for the first time. It is a massive upright circle and when he does his solo, he is strapped to his kit and the whole drum kit spins round the circle so he is drumming upside down about 40 feet up in the air. It's a weird drum solo, showcasing his love of current dance music styles and at one point using a sample of Bang-a-Rang from dub step guru Skrillex. Guitarist Mick Mars seems to have come as V for Vendetta tonight and he doesn't move around much. Mick has suffered from a crippling form of arthritis for most of his life and it's hard for him to get around (plus he has at least ten years on the rest of the members who are themselves no longer spring chickens), but when he plays it's an incredible thing to watch. Amazing, fast, effortless. The tail end of their set is all classics Dr Feelgood, Girls Girls
Girls and an explosive Kickstart My Heart to finish.

After a break it's time for the main event. The 'Hot Zone' down the front has filled up and the rest of the concert area is packed with the biggest crowd for any concert in the races history. After their 'once upon a time' the giant KISS curtain drops and Kiss are descending from the top of the stage on a flying stage, while explosions are going off all around, they are ripping into Detroit Rock City the opening track from Destroyer, their fourth (and some might say best) album. It is great. As a life long fan who has seen them play many times, for the writer, this never gets old. For the first three songs bass player Gene Simmons, guitarist Paul Stanley and guitarist Tommy Thayer (Ace Frehley left many years ago), mug shamelessly at the photographers. They know the value of their being great shots of them out there and as you can see from the Mix102 photographs from the event, every shot is a winner. Shout it Out Loud, Calling Dr Love and Firehouse lead into I Love it Loud with Gene leading a mass sing-a-long.

It must be said that whilst the audience down front are going cray-cray, much of the rest of the Clipsal audience aren't making that much noise to be honest. Back by the mixing tower most songs get a tepid response, which I found confusing.

When a classic band says they are going to play something off their new album, it's often time to nip off to the loo, but the blistering version of Hell or Hallelujah from the latest album Monster is excellent (as is the rest of the album). The title track from the 1998 album Psycho Circus is also amazing. Tommy Thayer takes centre stage for Out of the World, which leads to Simmons bass solo, with him spitting blood all over the stage and then being winched up to the top of the lighting rig to do God of Thunder. I have seen this over a dozen times and it is still super exciting even though I know it is ridiculous. Paul Stanley sing an acoustic version of Shandii a massive hit in Australia in 1980 from the Dynasty LP. At the end of this he realises there is a fire in the lighting rig, and there is a slight hold up while the rig is lowered and fire extinguished. Stanley sings part of The Doors Light My Fire and then Kiss's own Heavens on Fire to fill in time. Once things are back to normal, they surprise us with Crazy Nights, which rarely gets an airing since they put the make-up back on in 1996. Gene sings a ferocious War Machine before Paul Stanley flies over our heads to the mixing tower to sing Love Gun. Drummer Eric Singer takes lead vocals on Black Diamond, and there is a smidge of Stairway to Heaven thrown into the middle. Masses of explosions and they wave goodbye.

They return to do Lick it Up (including the middle eight from The Who's Won't get Fooled Again), before cranking up the massively popular I Was Made for Loving You. To close the night they play the rock'n'roll national anthem. Rock & Roll All Nite, was released in 1975 and is such a fantastic, catchy, rockin' song, that is utterly irresistible. The stage is complete obscured by mountains of confetti cannons going off either side of the stage and at the mixing tower. Paul smashes his guitar, everybody in the hot zone is dancing and singing, it is fantastic. Then there's fire works.

The thing about seeing KISS is, that it is almost like seeing a Broadway show. You pretty much know what songs they are going to do, and which order. You know there are going to various set pieces that occur, (blood spitting, fire-breathing, flying guitarists, etc) and you know they are going to do all the hits and a couple of songs off the new album. You also know if you just let yourself believe it for a couple of hours, then when they say "you wanted the best you got the best, the hottest band in the world" it will actually be true.

See photo gallery HERE: