KISS Expo '99

Review By The Allycat - All pics by Martin Unsworth
Many thanks to both Martin & Ally

DUDLEY OR BUST! 

It is that time of year again, when the UK’s KISS die hards descend on an unsuspecting part of the UK for a day and evening of unadulterated KISS. Many of us had looked forward to the event with anticipation, hoping to get their hands on some hard to find memorabilia and meet and greet with friends and fellow KISS fans.

As for me, I just love spending time immersed in KISS things and this day was all I looked for. Despite KISS having a big enough presence in the UK, the fan network is spread out far and wide. Apart from the internet, which keeps most of us in touch with each other, many of us feel isolated. I appreciate the opportunity to meet up with my fellow Kissaholics and lose myself in KISS for a while – it’s like a drug! Once hooked you can never get enough.

DRESSED TO KILL (Dave)

This now annual event is growing and there were a good selection of trade stands. Most things from the extensive KISS catalogue of goodies could be found – although I would have needed to have robbed bank to have really indulged myself! My favorite item being the life-sized cardboard cut out of KISS a la Dressed to Kill album cover look.

Nick Smith had a brilliantly painted array of air-brushed products, from his usual t-shirt range, loo-seats and giant posters, etc. All executed in his extremely talented artwork. I could have bought the lot. As well as memorabilia, there were dealers flogging recordings of memorable KISS shows. One to plug is Martin Unsworth, whose recordings are reputed to be excellent and, if you have a favorite show, well worth checking out. Martin can be contacted on : martinunsworth@hotmail.com

In addition to the stalls, goods and catching up with friends and fans, there were a few competitions and KISS related interludes. Most of us will have seen the KISS ‘Big Heads’ dolls on offer and we had a ‘live’ version of these, bringing a smile to everyone’s faces. Face painting facilities were on offer and there was no shortage of painted faces around the hall. It was quite eerie at times to find myself face to face with images of the Demon, Starchild, Space Ace and Catman speaking in a wide range of UK accents!

PARASITE had turned up and provided an acoustic set to a very appreciative audience – showing, once again, the talented musicians they are. They played some classics such as Coming Home, Goin’ Blind, Everytime I look at You, etc, and a variation of RNRAN, as found on the ‘KISS My ASS’ video – different but very enjoyable.

PARASITE

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The event finished with a two hour stage show by UK KISS tribute band Dressed To Kill (see below for review). The convention went well and everyone enjoyed themselves. Once again, Chris Hatton and his team worked hard and put on a good event, however, it could have been better! The choice of date was unwise as it clashed with the Reading festival and the tail end of the major holiday period. I knew of 8-10 people who couldn’t come for those reasons and problems of accessibility using public transport on a Sunday. If each person at the event also knew a few folk who couldn’t come for these reasons, that is a lot of missing people and lost revenue! Another factor is publicity, or lack of it. Events like these need maximum publicity and the organisers need to get a grip with it and take advantage of the willing band of UK based KISS Army or suffer from poor attendance, reduced revenue and ultimately losses.

All that aside, it was a great day and one that could grow into a major fixture in the UK KISS calender.

 

DRESSED TO KILL

The lights dimmed, the hall filled up and the anticipation rose ‘till it could be cut with a knife. Smoke was slowly pumped out as the crowd began to chant ‘We want KISS’! The crowds grew noisier with waiting and excitement and the band launched themselves onto the stage and went straight into Psycho Circus – one could be excused for thinking we were witnessing the opening of a KISS concert as at Wembley or somewhere, but this was Dudley and the band were ‘Dressed To Kill’ one of the UK’s two KISS tribute bands.

Here we had the Demon (aka Gary) The Starchild (aka Ash) Space Ace (aka Dave) and the Catman (aka Richard). We could have been back in 1976 and the Love Gun era once again. The costumes were brilliant and the attention to detail was spot on. Much time, money and effort has been put into the recreation of this KISS era by the band - from what was seen this evening it has certainly paid off.

After whipping the crowd up with the intro they went straight into Deuce and King of the Nighttime World. The playing was tight, well practised and loud. Gary and Ash dominated the stage as Gene and Paul, causing a number of girls at the front of the stage great delight! They then threw in a couple of surprises such as Ladies Room and Is That you before returning to KISS classics such as Got To Choose and Firehouse, after which Gary performed the Demon’s fire-breathing stunt. Take Me, Calling Dr Love and Beth followed in succession to appreciation from the floor and Gary continued to delight with his God of Thunder, bass solo and blood spitting, bought to close with Richard’s drum solo. The band were back on stage to the strains of I Stole Your Love and Shock Me. At this point Dave launched into the Ace solo and the guitar smoked in the much expected tradition. Love Gun and Strutter followed, but just when you thought there were no more surprises in store the band launched into Strangeways and All American Man! This last one brought a smile to my lips as this song always reminds me of my husband!

The main set was then brought to a close with Shout It Out Loud and Black Diamond. The audience loved the show and demand with increasing intensity that the band come back on stage for more. Luckily Dressed To Kill were more than in the mood to oblige and they finished the evening with an encore of Detroit Rock City, I Was Made For Loving You and the Anthem – Rock’n’Roll All Nite! There was plenty of pyro shooting off during the show and confetti raining down on our heads.

Dressed To Kill put on a great show and there were many KISS fans well pleased with it all at the end of the evening. Most people know by now how much of a Gene fan I am and Gary’s performance this evening had me reacting as I would to the man himself. He carried off the playing, singing, posturing and posing to perfection. His ability to step into Gene’s shoes is uncanny and sometimes unsettling – even to the point of his appreciation of the ladies!! This evening was no exception and there were two very happy blonde fans enjoying the chance to snuggle up close to the Demon after the show! Just like Gene himself. Then again, that is no surprise – Gary is so much like the Demon it is sometimes frightening.

 

 

 

A Few Extra Pics

Big Heeds!

 

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