live review: Kiss Finsbury Park, London

A deep voice boomed out: "You wanted the best. Now you got the best." As the black drape fell off the stage, there, in among the dry ice and underneath a bank of multicoloured lights, were three axemen in their late forties, in full super-hero garb, all going for it with "Do You Love Me?".

As you'd expect with Kiss, it was one of the best stage entrances ever but, apart from a few moments, the gig soon sagged. They retained some interest through theatrics that included guitarist Ace Frehley's fire- fighting stunts and close-up shots on the giant screen behind the stage of the Longest Tongue in Rock (it belongs to singer to Gene Simmons). He was also in league with the camera operator to prove that he owned the Most Stuffed Codpiece in Rock with the crowd treated to 20ft-high projections of this silver monstrosity.

The fact that all this was going on in daylight didn't help but when dusk fell, Kiss moved up several gears. Since it was the last night of a world tour that started over a year ago, sentimentality was a recurring theme. Singer and band spokesman Paul Stanley babbled on about how important the Kiss Army were and how he'd like to get among them. But he would only do it if the Kiss Army wanted him there. On the screen behind the band appeared an Audience Response Meter, a video clapometer that, of course, went to the end of the scale. Singers of a less theatrical disposition would have then gone into the pit at the front but this wasn't really an option for Stanley as his make-up would have been wiped off in a nanosecond. Instead, he and his guitar travelled along a winch high over the crowd to a platform in front of the mixing-desk where he continued to riff.

"Detroit Rock City" kicked off an encore that ended with their manifesto piece that advised their Kiss Army to "rock 'n' roll all nite (and party all day long)". By now, the stage looked like some kind of alien craft about to take off: drummer Peter Criss and his kit were elevated on a platform up to the roof of the stage, Simmons' podium was levered into and above the crowd while lights were going haywire; there were now three giant screens showing close-up shots and the bright orange KISS logo was flashing like mad. The die-hards wanted more but Kiss had the perfect way of closing the show - a massive fireworks display that erupted from the edge of the park.

If this was theatre, it was the theatre of the absurd, where the joke seemed to be on Kiss, until, finally, you realised that you'd had been laughing with them, not at them, all along.

Tim Perry

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