KISS At Rock Circus, London, June 1997

Review by Darren Wells, Pictures by Trina
Special thanks to Darren for allowing me to use the review and pictures

First of rockc1.jpg (16208 bytes)all, let me introduce myself, the name is Darren Wells and I have been a KISS fan since the day I was bought "Smashes, Thrashes and Hits" in 1988. Unfortunately I was one of those who had only before heard "Crazy Crazy Nights" and when I heard this, well, I haven't looked back since.

Basically, I was on a Holiday when I looked in my local John Menzies at the latest Kerrang! magazine. It was only a small article in the corner but it said that KISS were going to be at Rock Circus the next day to unveil their waxwork figures, and considering I only live an hour away from London, I had no excuses but to annoy my poor girlfriend Trina like crazy until she said "OK, were going!" (She's not into KISS, more of a Michael Jackson fan...ugh!)

So there we were, on the train, heading up to London. We were going to wear the full KISS make up , but we couldn't stand the idea of people staring at us on the Tube!

Once we got there, there was a huge queue outside and no one was going in, luckily, the queue wasn't too bad once it started moving, they did their usual thing at Rock Circus and handed us our rockc5.jpg (16240 bytes)cordless headphones - It normally has the music of each artist when you stand next to their figure, i.e. If you stood by Buddy Holly, it has "That'll be the day" on or "Faith" when you stood next to George Michael. But today was a special day - The normal music being played in the main part of Rock Circus had been replaced by KISS music, whilst a giant video wall showed live footage of KISS from the seventies, along with newspaper cuttings on screen of where they'd hit the press. There was absolutely no doubt about it... KISS were in town and they were going to make sure that everyone knew about it. There were plenty of tourists around still, looking at the models surrounding us, little did they know what they were in for.

Trina and I were getting crushed and I wanted to get closer to the front to see what was going on with all the other fans, so we made an agreement. She takes the photos and I just go and enjoy myself. So there I was, up the front meeting some of the real KISS fans. I met one guy, who had come all the way from the States, just to see his Idols, now that's dedication for you !! He'd been a fan for longer than I had, and he knew his KISS well, also was the guy who had in his hand, the body of Paul Stanley's PS-10 guitar he smashed up at the end of the Wembley concert from the last November. I play guitar myself and would love to get my hand on one of the KISS picks, let alone Paul's broken guitar. There were some others around with other memorabilia, copies of the KISStory book and other bits, then came the words we were waiting for.....

ALLLLLLLLLLLLRIGHT DETROIT.... YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST. THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD...... KISS!!!!!!! and it kicked into the new video version of "Shout it out Loud" as featured on "Greatest KISS", we all went wild staring up to the balcony that KISS were about to descend, but there was a slight hitch. So they played the video rockc3.jpg (16392 bytes)again and this time, the band entered the room, lead by Gene Simmons. All in full costume and make-up, they were here. Apparently, they had done a press conference upstairs to promote the new Greatest Hits CD (UK only, white sleeve) and they'd seen the Rock Circus revolving theatre show with the animatronic figures of other stars, they'd also seen other bits around the building. At the bottom of the stairs, Gene stops and does a major pose for the many journalists that were there , hungry for a story. Trina standing nearby, got a good shot of Gene doing this and waved to the others as they came down. Peter even waved back and blew a kiss to her. I stood eagerly at the front getting crushed, but then again, I was at the front, the best place to be. Security was very tight at first, saying that the band needed room... yeah right! and we didn't! But after a while things eased up a bit. The band posed in front of figures for the cameras, these didn't look like the usual sort of thing that you see here, but I then was told the models on the stage were the mannequins used on the previous years KISS conventions. Then the band started moving around the press. Ace looked a bit pissed off to be there part the time, guess he'd rather be playing with his laptop or something. But Gene and Paul were the two who were absolutely lapping up all the attention as they always do. Eventually,rockc2.jpg (26162 bytes) Gene came over near us. I was standing next to a mannequin of him in a costume that looked as if it was from the "Dynasty" era. He started talking to a reporter about the costume, and eventually I heard her ask the immortal question he always gets asked...."So how long is your tongue, Gene", and his reply was "It's long enough to make me your best friend", ha ha dirty old bugger is our old Uncle Gene. Then he grabbed me and another fan and we all stuck our tongues out for a pose for MTV's SuperRock programme or something, I just saw the MTV on the camera. I was in shock, this was something really cool. Gene spoke briefly to us, thanking us for coming and I said back "See you next week", as this was a week before Kaos in the Park. I really couldn't believe it, this was a big moment in my life ! I still haven't got a copy of that programme from MTV, but I would love one or even just to see it once, it all happened so quick. Gene then moved on to another interviewer when Ace was quite nearby, I didn't get to speak to him, which was a shame as he is my favourite KISS guitarist, and as I play guitar myself, would have liked to have asked him a few things. He mainly stuck around Peter at this time, showing the press some KISS memorabilia. They didn't hang around though. They were lead through a side door and that was it... KISS had left rockc4.jpg (20814 bytes)the building just as fast as they had entered it. But that wasn't it, next were the mannequins themselves, which were dressed to kill in costumes from the Alive! period, along with another dummy of Paul, dressed in an outfit from 1979-1980, a bright purple costume with a star on the belt. Behind that were some of the bands instruments. Ace's new Gibson Les Paul 3 Pickup Custom, which still had a pick held in the middle pickup from the Alive / Worldwide tour, must have been used the night before. Next to that was Paul Stanley's Gibson Flying V from the seventies, just think of all the shows that has played! Behind that was Peter Criss' Silver drum kit used to record the album "ALIVE". Very cool, but next to that was what I thought was the coolest. The prototype model of Gene's Axe bass that as far as I can remember was hand built by Bernie Kramer, they could have all come home with me if they wanted but no, I think they'd be better with their original owners.

We then moved around Rock Circus to see the rest of the show. But where were the real KISS waxworks, I hear you ask ? In the animatronic theatre, there they were.. Gene even had a movingrockc6.jpg (10015 bytes) tongue.

It all ended well, and I couldn't wait to see the photos Trina took so I got them developed at a 1 hour processing place in the London Pavilion (where Rock Circus is situated), he told me that he'd just had Steven Tyler from Aerosmith process a film there an hour before that, so as you can see, it was a serious day of Rock and Roll in London, and I was there to witness it !!!!

If anyone would like to E-Mail me , whether you have a copy of the MTV footage or you went to either the Wembley Concert or Kaos in the Park or just want to talk about all things KISS then send me one on

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