by Terri Bey
Before I start my concert review, I want to wish all my readers a Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter if you are married, dating, in a committed relationship or single. It doesn’t matter if it is just you and your furry/hoofed friend. I hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day with whomever you love, and that person “will be made for loving you,” and your day will be “just like paradise.” With that, I will segue with the review of the incredible concert I experienced at Lexington, KY’s Rupp Arena last night on February 13, 2020, when KISS on their “End of the Road” Tour (EOTR, from now on) and opening act, former lead singer and frontman Diamond David Lee Roth put on a rocking show.
PRE-SHOW MEET AND GREET WITH KISS
I went to the Will Call window and got my ticket and pass/wristband for the KISS Meet and Greet. I went to my seat and watched some of David Lee Roth’s set. At about 7:45, I started going towards the area where I and an a whole bunch of folks were going to be escorted to get our photos with the band. I certainly didn’t want to be late, as I had to be at the meeting place by 8. I got down to the area, and heard and watched David Lee Roth finish his set.
We all get in line, and a bunch of people with wristbands with red and blue dots got in line first. I am guessing they were either the VIP or Ultra VIP. Anyway, whatever, I was very excited, and a little nervous, as I had a present for KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, one of my two favorites in the current lineup, along with Eric Singer, the drummer. It was a keychain made from wood from the White Star Liner R.M.S. Olympic, older sister of the R.M.S Titanic, an actual artifact from https://www.whitestarlines.co.uk/ , which sells actual artifacts from the Titanic, her sisters and from other liners, like Cunard. At the 2019 Indianapolis KISS Expo, back in May, Tommy Thayer and I got into a few discussions about the Titanic. A First Class passenger named John Borland Thayer II, his wife Marian and their son, Jack Thayer III sparked our conversation, so I thought this gift would be pretty cool, especially since the wood from Titanic’s sister ship and this particular ship, the R.M.S. Olympic also served in WW1 as a troop ship. Tommy, as are the rest of the band, a huge supporter of the military, as his late father was a war hero in WW2.
Anyway, a couple of people I knew from KISS Expos were ahead of me and they got their photos with the band. I was waiting for my photo and KISS manager Doc McGhee recognized me as did their bodyguard. I am watching the proceedings and Tommy sees me and waves to me. That was nice that he remembered me from all those times that he met me. My turn comes and I know I have to talk fast, so I give him the present and tell him about the keychain while showing him my own keychain, as I own one myself. Oh my goodness, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him that the wood was from the R.M.S. Olympic, the sister to the R.M.S. Titanic. He said, with amazement, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yeah.” So, I wrapped my arms around him for my photo and he said, “Aww. Sweet.” After the photo, I told him how I would miss him and I HUGGED HIM!!!!!” Yes, I HUGGED TOMMY THAYER. I gave Gene and Paul fist bumps, and I said a quick hello to Eric Singer and gave him a hug and showed him the gift really fast and had to scoot. What an experience.
DAVID LEE ROTH’S SET
David Lee Roth was my first rock concert ever. I saw him in Pittsburgh, PA as a freshman at Carnegie Mellon University in September of 1986. He had the formidable Billy Sheehan on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums and Steve Vai, who became my all time favorite guitarist. Now, much has been made about his voice at his Las Vegas show, recently. I was a little concerned, but at last night’s show, he did a very good job, vocally. Roth was working the crowd. Roth was still a hell of a showman. He was doing his kicks, of course, not like he used to do, but it was awesome. The band was awesome, performing Van Halen classics like “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love,” “Running With The Devil,” and “Jamie’s Crying.” David Lee Roth also performed some of his own stuff like “Tobacco Road” and “Just Like Paradise.” The only slight complaint that I had was that I wish “Just A Gigalo/Ain’t Got Nobody” was somewhere in the middle of the set, rather at the end. I thought “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” should have been the closing number, but that is just my opinion. I loved seeing David Lee Roth and his set took me back to a lot of good memories.
What hasn’t been said about KISS that hasn’t been said? KISS is one of the greatest live acts that you will ever see, and boy, did they prove it last night at Rupp Arena. I know in my review of the March 12, 2019 EOTR Louisville stop, that it would be my final show, but when they were coming to my adopted hometown of Lexington, KY, I had to be there. I am glad I did, because this was a great show and even better than their Louisville show.
As in all their shows, KISS had the usual pyrotechnics, bombs and fire. Gene Simmons did his blood spitting and fire breathing routines. There was a great spot during the blood spitting act, which happens right after Gene’s little bass solo, before “God of Thunder,” when after he spit, Simmons said something to the effect of “God is on stage,” or something like that. It was very funny. Gene was pretty animated during this show. He threw a white, bloodied towel to someone, as well.
Anyway, Paul did his usual stage antics, like divide the crowd and have his “which side can be the loudest” contest. He did that a couple of times. Paul went out over the crowd to his little stage for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Loving You.” Eric Singer, who has been with KISS on and off since 1992, did his drum solo while going up in the air, and played the piano during “Beth,” with the guys coming out like on the Paul Lynde “Halloween Special,” back in 1976. Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, who has been the band’s lead guitarist since 2002, did his guitar solo and shot rockets into the flying saucers on stage.
Musically, KISS sounded awesome, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, in particular. Gene Simmons played very well, and I was really hearing his bass-lines. I know Simmons gets a lot of grief for his stage image, but the man really can lay down those bass lines. However, Eric Singer really drives that band forward and was amazing last night. Singer, after all these years, still has that attack, skill and is also a very entertaining drummer. Paul Stanley sang well, and was in good voice.
Tommy Thayer has really come into his own, though. Thayer was on fire all night. He played all the classic leads in songs like “Detroit, Rock City,” “Cold Gin,” and the newly added “Parasite.” Thayer was tremendous playing those licks and leads that original lead guitarist Ace Frehley had written and laid down. Ace Frehley also wrote “Cold Gin” and “Parasite,” as well, so as a big Ace Frehley fan, I was THRILLED that “Parasite” was added to the set. Thayer also has become an awesome showman. I was amazed at his playing to the crowd, and his getting the crowd going. It was very fun seeing him throwing picks to the fans and interacting with them.
Other than the previously mentioned “Parasite,” the only other song that was different was “Tears Are Falling” from 1985’s “Asylum.” It was nice to see the 1980’s era, featuring the lineup of former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick and late drummer Eric Carr being represented. The rest of KISS’ set list included the usual suspects, such as “Detroit, Rock City,” “Deuce,” “Love Gun,” etc., and concluded with the anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” with pyrotechnics and tons of confetti.
It was a fabulous night. I will never forget it. Thank you, KISS.