KISS: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, play Sydney Accor Stadium for final Australia concert

If I asked you to imagine what your life might look like when you’ve reached your 70s, what kind of future is conjured up in your mind?

Perhaps you’re reading a book while curled up on the couch, sipping a warm cup of tea, or perched on a sun lounger, blissfully watching your grandkids play in your pool.

Well, I think we should all be channelling our inner ‘Starchild’ Paul Stanley from KISS, who rocked out Sydney’s Accor stadium on Saturday night for the very last time.

The 71-year-old icon was dressed head to toe in tight studded leather and donned knee-high platform boots, before confidently launching himself at full speed via zip line from one end of the stadium to the other, mesmerising the crowd below.

I am more than four decades younger than this man and yet can barely get out of bed some mornings, let alone put my body through the insane circus-like escapades that he had made look effortless.

Amid the excitement, there was a sombre feeling washing over the audience that night, as many struggled to accept that this would be the final time KISS would ever perform in Australia.

It simply didn’t feel real.

Many in attendance had been at the band’s very first concert Down Under back in 1980, when the boys visited all our major cities as part of their Unmasked tour and cemented our love of the group for decades to come.

But there is no denying that we’ve heard this before.

The band said goodbye to Australia at their End Of The Road tour in 2022, promising it would be the last time they would ever set foot on our shores.

However, their love for the land down under strong, with Stanley revealing his true feelings during the show.

“Australia is like our second home” he affectionately declared, a stunning revelation that incited audible gasps, laughs and a choir of “aww” from the crowd.

KISS simply can’t stay away, returning to rock out the AFL grand final last week in Melbourne, before their ‘final curtain’ Sydney show on Saturday, hosted by TEG Live and One World Entertainment. But there was something different in the air that evening, a palpable sense of sadness that this was really it – the final hurrah.

However, it was this knowledge that spurred everyone into slipping on their dancing shoes and making this farewell party as memorable as it could be, both for us and for them.

The crowd was lucky enough to catch three incredible opening performances, with Aussie acts The Delta Riggs and Regurgitator pumping out some classics before beloved American band Weezer graced the stage.

Then, it was time.

The anticipation and lead up to KISS being unveiled on the stage was unlike anything I’d seen before.

Everything went pitch black, before bright red spotlights danced around the crowd and a suspenseful track vibrated throughout the stadium.

On the giant screens, fans are given an exciting sneak peek at the musicians emerging from their dressing rooms, fully adorned with their unmistakeable attire and painted faces, as they begin their slow walk out to the stage.

Then comes their famous introduction.

“All right Sydney, you want the best, you got the best,” a disembodied voice booms.

“The hottest band in the world – KISS!”

With a deafening bang, the curtain dramatically drops to unveil the foursome slowly descending from the heavens above onto the stage, encircled by billowing puffs of smoke, enormous flames and fireworks lighting up the sky.

“We thought we had said goodbye, but you asked us to come back,” Stanley announced to the enamoured crowd.

“We are humbled, we are honoured and we are here to kick some ass. Australia is like our second home. We love you!”

With his ghostly white painted face, iconic black star over his right eye and perfectly applied red lippy on his pout, the KISS frontman magically exudes the same electric energy and effortless charm that he did 50 years ago, when the New York band first formed in 1973.

Bassist Gene Simmons at 74 is somehow just as bewildering and formidable in the best possible way as ‘The Demon’, both enchanting and horrifying the crowd with his classic tongue antics and mouth-bleeding performances.

Made complete with 62-year-old lead guitarist Tommy Thayer’s expert acoustic skills as the ‘Space Man’ and drummer Eric Singer, 65, providing the beating heart for the band as ‘The Cat’.

Launching into classics like Shout It Out Loud (1976) Deuce (1974) and Heaven’s On Fire (1984), the crowd was amped up and hungry for more.

A KISS performance is so much more than just a concert – it is an other-worldly, unforgettable blitz on the senses.

“The first time we came here was in 1980, and you people have always been awesome,” Stanley shouts, as the camera pans out into the crowd.

There are KISS lookalikes as far as the eye can see, with both young and old getting into the spirit and reminding us of the power of music in connecting people from all walks of life.

A five-year-old boy donning Gene Simmons style face paint playfully pokes out his tongue as he bounces on his father’s shoulders, while an 85-year-old woman waves from her wheelchair, a perfect black star etched onto her face and crimson lippie painted on her pout.

“We know you’re not all from here,” Stanely said, acknowledging the thousands that were flocking to the show from all over the country.

Powering through other hits such as Calling Dr. Love (1976), Lick It Up (1983) and Psycho Circus (1998), it was soon time for the unforgettable God Of Thunder (1976) act.

As a stormy scene lights up the stage, the camera zooms in on Simmons as he appears to be having an exorcist-type reaction, before fake blood cascades out his mouth as he personifies his character of ‘The Demon’.

Not one to be outdone, Stanley leaps into his pièce de résistance trademark stunt.

“We won’t be back, this is the last time. I know, it’s horrible,” he says. “And this is the last time that I can come out there and be with you.”

Before long, he seamlessly places a single foot onto the zip line and effortlessly glides across the crowd and onto a tower in the middle of the pit.

Fans go wild, uncertain which way to turn as he busts out some killer dance moves while playing Love Gun (1977) and then flying back onto the stage for Black Diamond (1974).

The perfectly-timed theatrics of it all are a testament to the band’s professionalism, and despite the hundreds, if not thousands, of times they have performed these tricks, they continue to blow the audience away and make us feel as if we are the first to ever witness such crazed antics.

After teasing the crowd by disappearing from stage, drummer Eric Singer re-emerges with his solo of Beth (1976) after desperate pleas for an encore, and the stadium is illuminated by gently swaying lights from the torches on everyone’s mobile phones.

The rest of the band return and light up the crowd with Shandi (1980), a song which despite having just moderate success in the U.S. at number 47 on the Top 100 Billboard Charts, captivated Australian audiences when it was first releases, skyrocketing to number 5 here.

It is clear by the number of people singing their lungs out that the emotive tune continues to be uniquely appreciated by crowds down under.

With the end edging closer, everyone got on their feet as they busted out fan favourites I Was Made For Lovin’ You (1979) and Rock and Roll All Nite (1975).

“Sydney, we will never, ever forget you,” Stanley says with a smile, as the reality of the inevitable final goodbye sets in.

“Goodnight, we love you.”

Although the night was freezing – getting down to 14 degrees celcius with an icy wind – a warmness enveloped the crowd, as if we had all just been part of one giant hug goodbye.

During the mass exodus, I spotted a few teary-eyed fans staring longingly at the stage, clearly moved by the concert and struggling to believe it was finally all over.

This degree of emotion on such a large scale reminded me of the incredible power of music and how it can stir things up inside of us that we never even knew existed.

Although we’ve kissed KISS goodbye, the legacy of the band and the decades of memories they have created in this country will be forever etched onto the heart of their Australian fans.

Though most of us have accepted that this is truly the end, some remain hopeful they might return.

After all, how long can they stay away from their “second home”?

Only time will tell.

Read related topics:Sydney

Leave a Comment