Story and Photos by Tony Contini
KISS rocked the Nugget Event Center in Sparks on Thursday during The Final Tour Ever.
I was going to say something like: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are world-class performers, and the other two fellas onstage are pretty cool too. But 20 songs later, I was completely sold by Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums (I was also told that’s been the lineup for some 20 years).
The show started with explosive fireworks, “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud.” KISS pounded through tunes, performed for cameras, and always hit their mark, hitting cues like broadcast journalists.
As Stanley, Simmons and Thayer swayed together during ”Deuce,” the huge screen behind them displayed archival footage of them doing the same moves years ago.
KISS’ two frontmen aren’t just energetic performers and iconic symbols, they also display moments of musical greatness too, like the disco-groove of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and the bass fills and riffs in “I Love It Loud” and “Tears Are Falling.”
”Ya nawt gettin’ tyard awre ya?” Stanley asked in his charming, thick New Jersey accent.
At the end of “Lick It Up” they brought it down to just hi-hats and guitars. It was a great interlude with talented guitar work.
It’s easy to disregard bands with gimmicks, like KISS, GWAR and Ghost, but under the make-up and costumes are passion and skill. Any band that can hold the attention of huge arenas deserve respect.
I want to also stress that these badasses are about 70 years old. You can see the sheer joy of performing in their starry eyes. This was the kind of show where you smile like a kid during the entire thing.
“Sparks…” Simmons said hauntingly. “I know where you live.”
Retrospective footage was featured on three gigantic screens throughout the evening. They took live footage, added black & white and film effects, which made the current show seem historic.
Can you imagine KISS hiring you? You get all dressed up. You’re shredding during an outro. Gene Simmons comes over, tongue a foot from his face, slobber drip almost reaching the floor, he rubs his tongue, then the fretboard of your guitar. Tommy Thayer has one hell of a job. He’s a ripper too.
During a solo between songs, Thayer not only showed off his skill, but also shot fireworks from the head of his guitar, blowing out the digital overhead lights. For the audience, it was like hitting a bonus game while playing a KISS slot or pinball machine.
During another interlude, Simmons took center stage and slowly let blood pour from his gigantic mouth. Classic.
Eric Singer took an amazing drum solo, sang lead vocals on the verses of “Black Diamond” while Stanley showed off his rhythm guitar skills.
The crowd was enthralled and participating the entire time. Thankfully, KISS makes it easy for a crowd–their parts are usually “ooh ooh ooh” or “hey hey hey.”
They closed with “Rock and Roll All Nite” in an explosion of confetti.
Tony Contini is a photographer, videographer and writer focused on all things music. He’s had his finger on the pulse of Reno’s music scene for over a decade. He graduated from UNR with a degree in journalism and has since worked for newspapers, magazines, photo studios and as a freelance photographer and videographer. Aside from concert coverage, album reviews and music video production, his schedule is filled with weddings, portraiture and event coverage.