September 13, 2021 Concert Review by Jimmy Alvarez
This may sound cliché, but September 9th at FivePoint Amphitheatre would be different than any other I have ever experienced. Before the show even started, you felt the electricity in the air, literally! Look, we’ve all seen the videos of KISS making their entrance. But seeing them on video or on your cell phone does provide the scope of the experience. In all fairness, there are no words to adequately describe and prepare you for the live experience that is KISS. Seeing them come down from the top of the stage was like witnessing Gods descending from Olympus. Yes, it was that epic and surreal an experience. With the number of shows under my belt, that’s a bold statement for me to make.
Before KISS made their entrance, we had a pre-show experience that was quite a pleasant surprise. As the crowd settled in, they were welcomed to FivePoint by artist David Garibaldi. At first I didn’t know what to expect, but he did this thing where he painted punk rock portraits on stage to kick-ass music within minutes. The crowd was amazed and so was I by his Beatles portrait as well as his masterful job of using black canvas and multi-colored paint. It was unreal how quickly and how vivid his portraits were. He put together a great snapshot of The Beatles and the featured act. You almost forgot for a minute that you were there to see Rock and Roll Hall of Famers playing.
Once Girabaldi finished up to applause, it didn’t take the crew long to get the stage ready for the featured act. As the banner came down with four simple words K I S S … the crowd amplified itself and they were ready to go.
Before you knew it, down came Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Just like that, the all-ages crowd became one. They were like teenagers seeing The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” People were screaming so loud you could imagine someone’s head exploding just like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Suffice it to say, the crowd was that cartoon-crazy.
KISS did not disappoint, they descended to all the pomp and circumstance you would expect. I mean you could feel the heat from the flames and fireworks throughout FivePoint as they opened the night with “Detroit Rock City!” With a pyrotechnic show second to none, the decibel level was like that of a commercial jet landing – it was that loud.
The set list was perfect and the interaction between Stanley, Simmons and the crowd was unforgettable. There wasn’t a moment when the crowd wasn’t singing along to every word of every song. There were grown men and women that at time were in tears as they embraced these sonic heroes.
Despite Ace and Peter no longer being on stage, you felt their presence. Their energy was captured throughout the night just by the music alone. The iconic faces reminded everyone of just how special this band has always been. Even though this was their farewell tour, KISS had the energy and vocal range of artists a fraction of their age.
The guys did not hold back, they delivered with “Shout It Out Loud,” “Deuce,” “Lick It Up,” and Simmons killed “Calling Dr. Love.” When the band went into “Love Gun,” they kicked it up a notch with a stage show spectacular.
Bottom line, Tom Morello got it right when he said at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony when he proclaimed “You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best!” KISS proved why they are the best damn rock and roll band you’ll ever see. This show was that amazing. Not just the vocal, or heart pumping music, but the stage show and communion with the crowd, they brought the entire package to FivePoint.
As the show drew to an end, it was surreal and appropriate that the skies opened up as if it was crying. From the first note, raindrops started to fall as the band serenaded us all to “Beth!” How appropriate with rain, thunder and lightning as a backdrop. KISS ended the night a little early due to the weather, but appropriately they closed with “Rock and Roll All Night.”
And just like that, the Rock and Roll Gods of Thunder bid farewell for one last time to Orange County. It was by far a sweet and poetic goodbye from one of the class acts of the world of music.
KISS has a few more gigs in them including a short residency in Vegas, so catch them while you still can!