Calling last Saturday night one to remember would be an understatement. We spent the evening witnessing the extravaganza also known as KISS. The now Rock Hall members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons brought their legendary stage show to Nationwide Arena as part of the “End Of The Road Tour” which opened on January 31 in Vancouver and currently is set to continue until the beginning of December with two legs in North America, one leg in Europe (including headline shows at summer festivals), and one leg in Oceania.
It’s a well known fact that live shows are what put KISS on the map and has continued to extend the band’s longevity and legacy. Their ALIVE albums continue to be some of the band’s best selling albums, and Saturday night’s show definitely confirmed this through and through.
The band’s stage layout was the first impression of the epic show we were going to expect when the band made their entrance. The set included the standard end stage, a smaller, circular stage at the opposite side of the arena floor, and a lighting rig spanning the entire length of the arena floor. This was still just of the tip of the iceberg of the stage setup we were going to see once the show started.
Going into the show, we had no idea if there was going to be an opener for KISS or not. It turned out that the opening act for the night was performing artist, David Garibaldi, who you may or may not seen reach the seventh season finals of NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2012. Unfortunately, I never saw his AGT appearances beforehand and didn’t know what to expect. During his set, Garibaldi created three original paintings of rock stars to each star’s music. He started with odes to rock legends Paul McCartney and Jim Morrison before ending his set with a portrait of Columbus sports icon Brutus Buckeye. Garibaldi finished his set by revealing the four members of KISS surround Brutus to commemorate the band’s final show in Columbus.
I really enjoy the parts of Garibaldi’s act I got to see, but I did miss the second painting to get merch since the lines were way too long when we first entered the arena. Merch was pretty standard with the exception of bundles with autographed drum heads and picks from Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, which were priced at $45. T-Shirts started at $50 each, long sleeve tees were $75 each, and hoodies and sweatshirts were priced higher. The merch stands also included different styles of hats, a tour poster, a tour program, and smaller knick knacks like keychains and bandanas.
About 30-45 minutes after Garibaldi left the stage, the house lights went dark to signal the start of the final KISS concert in Columbus.
Last Saturday’s show marked the first KISS concert in Columbus in 14 years. KISS last played in Columbus and Nationwide Arena on September 10, 2005, and made stops previously at Nationwide Arena (2000), Germain Amphitheater (2004, 2003, 2000), the Schottenstein Center (1998), the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum (1992), Battelle Hall (1990, 1986, 1984), Veterans Memorial Auditorium (1988, 1975 twice), Ohio Center AKA the Convention Center downtown (1988, 1984), St. John Arena (1977), and Club Agora (twice in 1974), which is now known as Newport Music Hall.
With the long history of KISS in Columbus, dating back to April 1974, the crowd was completely ready to celebrate the band and its music one last time.
The band started with “Detroit Rock City” as they descended onto the stage from the top of the lighting rig. For those fans who had not seen KISS in concert, they were met with amazing lighting, video screens, and yes, pyrotechnics. Out of all the concerts I’ve been to, only a bands that could match KISS when it comes to pyrotechnics – Slayer and Motley Crue.
KISS spent the entire night playing the hits from the majority, if not all, of their albums including “Lick It Up,” “Love It Loud,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and “Calling Dr. Love.” Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons had all of their theatrical gimmicks like Simmons’ blood coming out of his mouth before going into “God of Thunder”, blowing fire from a sword during “War Machine,” and Stanley rode a zip lined (without a harness) from the main stage to a smaller stage on the other side of the arena for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.”
After the main set, KISS started the encore with Eric Singer singing “Beth” and finished with the band’s most well known hit, “Rock N Roll All Nite.” It was an epic way to end such an epic night with the legendary band KISS and their loyal fans in KISS ARMY.
This was my second show of 2019, the first being Metallica in Cleveland on February 1, and I can’t decide if KISS was better or Metallica because both bands are true rock legends. However, I couldn’t have started this year’s concert season with two of the greatest rock bands of all time.
KISS was a bucket list band to see live for so many years and I was finally able to check them off, but I really don’t think this will be the last time we see KISS. They’ve been doing farewell tours since 2000. I guess only time will tell, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on KISS never coming back to Columbus. I think KISS has more gas in the tank than they lead fans to believe.