Pop Kiss Madison Square Garden, New York
Thursday 01 August 1996
Four nights at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in 47 minutes, front row seats changing hands for as much as $7,000. Kiss fans - mall- habituated, Bud-swilling, big-haired, merchandise purchasers - are the slow creatures that time forgot and tonight is their chance to relive the first time they fell for rock 'n' roll. Kiss, during the mid-Seventies, made a virtue out of being the least cool band in the world, the emperors of the lowest common denominator. And they still do.
What is so great about Kiss - the Sex Pistols could learn a thing or two here - is that they sell out comprehensively. In Kiss's view, the only criterion for greatness is commercial success. It is also a first principle with them that the audience who pays deserves the works. As a consequence, they have the highest recognition factor of any brand name in the US.
There is no pretence at musicality here. Kiss roll out their pop-metal smashes like a carpet: "Cold Gin", "Strutter", "Black Diamond", "Detroit Rock City", "Rock and Roll All Nite", a host of big beat, three-chord stompers too similar to distinguish from each other. Every high-kick is choreographed; every pyrotechnic flash and smoke bomb is triggered on the beat. The drum kit levitates, Ace Frehley's guitar catches fire and launches rockets after a 10-minute solo in the epic Seventies tradition.
What soon becomes clear is that Gene Simmons' enormous tongue holds the key to Kiss's fortune. It was once rumoured to be prosthetically supplemented with a cow's tongue that he had to exercise regularly to keep in shape. Clearly, it is the biggest tongue in rock and he lashes it about in every song, synchronised to violent thrusts of his silver codpiece. It drives the crowd wild.
At the end of the show, fans in Kiss drag mill around having their pictures taken. Some are crying, most are buying up the merchandise."It's all about tight jeans, cool hair, feeling good about yourself," says Luke, who plays in a Kiss tribute band in New Jersey. "I believe in rock 'n' roll. That's all that matters."
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas TV guide 2013: Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
- < Previous
- Next >