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Review

Sonic Boom Tour Report - Part 1
5/2010
Review by - Daniel Hill
Pictures by - Daniel Hill & Stuart Bayley

My story starts back in November 2009. Just one month on since blowing every penny I had on my New York KISS Trip, the unthinkable happened. KISS announced 9 dates in the UK/Ireland. Instantly, I made up my mind that I was going to tour all 9 shows, but had no idea how I was going to raise the money. Anyway, with a little bit of hard graft,  I managed to purchase all of the tickets and arranged to have the time off work, all by the end of January. Now it was 'research' time.

Anybody that knows me could tell you that there was no way I was 'just' going to do 9 shows. I had to make this my KISS TRIP. Out came the KISS photo album and concertography. After a couple of weeks, I had put together a full UK map of past concert venues, recording studios, photo locations and a couple more cool places in KISSTORY. Some people can't see the point in visiting these places but what the hell, I'm only 25 and didn't get the chance to go to some of these places first time around, so while I'm in the area - Why Not!  Also - it may bring back some good memories for some of you readers who have been following KISS since the 70's/80's.
 
My first stop came a bit sooner than expected. KISS announced a one-off show at the O2 Academy Islington, of course, I had to be there. This also gave me a good opportunity to visit some of the London destinations that I had found.
   
 March 2nd 2010
With many destinations planned for today I decided to set out early and just drive to Slough. Due to traffic and parking in London it was much easier to park here and get the train into London. Here are some of the places I visited along the way...

  • Birmingham - Odeon Cinema [was once the 'Odeon Theatre'] - (KISS _ May 14th 1976 _ First 
    UK Tour)

  • London - Westminster Bridge - (KISS _ 1976 Photo shoot)

  • London - Buckingham Palace - (KISS _ 1976 Photo Shoot)

  • London - Hard Rock Cafe - (Bruce Kulick's ESP guitar which he used during the 'Asylum' tour and on the 'Uh All Nite' video)

  • London - Astoria [demolished, now a building site] - (Ace Frehley _ April 11th 2008 _ Rocket Ride Tour). I was recently informed that all 4 original members of KISS have attended the London Astoria at different periods of time, without make-up (Gene & Paul {Eric S & Bruce}/KISS Convention 1992), (Peter Criss/KISS Convention 1994) (Ace Frehley/Live 2008)

  • London - The Montagu Pyke [once 'The Marquee'] - (KISS _ August 16th 1988). KISS opened the club with a one-off show, going down in the books as one of the most intimate shows KISS had ever played (until O2 Islington). There is a plaque on the wall inside that gives a brief history of the building. It mentions both 'The Marquee' and the night KISS opened it.

  • London - Soho Square - (once the UK KISS ARMY Headquarters)

  • London - Shepherds Bush O2 Empire - (Ace Frehley _ December 17th 2009 _ Anomaly Tour)

  • London - Townhouse Studios - (where Paul recorded the vocals for 'Lets Put The X In Sex' & 'You Make Me Rock Hard')

  • London - Hammersmith Apollo [once the 'Hammersmith Odeon'] - (KISS _ May 15th & 16th 1976 _ First UK Tour), (Frehley's Comet - March 19th 1988 - This was filmed for a live video and album)

  • London - Park Royal Studios - (where KISS filmed the video for 'I Just Wanna'). I was able to take a look in the room where the filming took place and believe me, once you're there, you sure can tell that you're in the right place.

  • London - Finsbury Park - (KISS _ July 5th 1997 _ One Stop Show)    

  • London - O2 Academy Islington - (KISS _ Rehearsals _ March 1st 2010), (KISS _ March 2nd 
    2010 _ One Stop Intimate Show).

Birmingham Odeon Cinema (Previously 'Odeon Theatre')  KISS - 1976
Westminster Bridge 
 
Me - 1976
Westminster Bridge 
KISS - 1976
Westminster Bridge 
Me - 1976
Westminster Bridge
 
Paul - 1976
Westminster Bridge 
Me - 1976
Westminster Bridge 
KISS - 1976
Buckingham Palace 
2010 - Small Gates
Buckingham Palace 
Bruce Kulick's Guitar
Hard Rock Cafe 
London Astoria
(Now Demolished) 
Outside 'Montagu Pyke'
(Formally 'The Marquee)
Plaque Inside 'Montagu Pyke'
(Formally 'The Marquee) 
Former UK KISS ARMY
Headquarters 
Shepherds Bush
O2 Empire 
Townhouse Studios
(Now Closed) 
Hammersmith Apollo
(Formally 'Hammersmith Odeon')
Outside
Park Royal Studios 
Inside
Park Royal Studios 
Outside
Finsbury Park 
Inside
Finsbury Park 


Upon arrival, I had a quick chat with some familiar faces from the UK KISS ARMY and then went on a 'stalking mission'. I spent a while or so chatting to security and managed to get a glimpse backstage (before the band arrived). I also managed to get a look at the set list for the the night ahead (wish I hadn't in a way but couldn't resist). An hour or so later, three black cars/vans came past me and went into an underground car park which sits just below the venue. After getting down there as quickly as I could, I only managed to catch a glimpse of Gene and Eric as they entered the building (so basically - a waste of time). Within 15/20 minutes the band hit the stage. Now, 
what more can you say about one of the biggest bands in the world playing inside a venue that is hardly big enough for a tribute band, let alone KISS. People all over the globe will tell you that KISS is about the show. Well, tonight they proved that the show is just an added bonus and that the core of the band is solely the music and the fans. With no pyro or special effects, KISS still managed to blow the roof off the joint. The only effect of the night was a burst of confetti during 'Rock And Roll All Nite'. The band then dropped 'Deuce', 'Shout It Out Loud' and 'Lick It Up' from the encore (due to the lack of oxygen in the air after setting off the confetti). 

The set list was as follows -
Modern Day Delilah - Cold Gin - Let Me Go Rock 'N' Roll - Say Yeah - Dr. Love - Got To Choose - I 
Love It Loud - 100,000 Years - Love Gun - Black Diamond - Rock & Roll All Nite --- Detroit Rock 
City
With 800 fans leaving totally satisfied with a taster of what was to come in the coming months, it was time to head home and just sit in wait for May 1st.

O2 Islington
Box Office 
O2 Islington
Main Entrance 
Me With Set List
(Before The Show) 
Backstage At
O2 Islington 
KISS Entering
O2 Islington 
The Show 


 
In early April I had to go to Suffolk, due to unfortunate events within the family. Whilst in the area, I 
visited the following two places...

  • Suffolk - Kirkley High School - (where Gene had filmed the second series of Rock School). I got to take a good look around too - I don't know how I haven't been arrested yet!!

  • Ipswich - Regent Theatre [once the Gaumont Theatre] - (KISS _ October 11th 1984 _ Fourth UK 
    Tour)


School Yard At
Kirkley High School 
Me At Entrance to Kirkley High School  Ipswich - Regent Theatre
(Formally 'Gaumont Theatre') 


 
THE TOUR BEGINS
 
   
The day that I had been waiting for had finally arrived and I was acting like a five year old on Christmas morning!! By now, most of you will know that every show played in the UK/Ireland used the same set list and order, the same stunts and timings, the same video screens and even the same banter Paul has with the crowd. Therefore, I will review the show as a whole before I tell you about my best bits on individual days.
 
First on the bill each night was Las Vegas Rockers 'Taking Dawn'. Pretty damn good if you like that kind of thing but bloody awful if you don't!! Luckily for me, I love Taking Dawn so had a good time listening to these every night. Stand outs for me were 'Endlessly', 'Time To Burn' & 'The Chain'.    At approximately 8.45, the lights went down and a recording of Doc Mcghee leading the band to the stage was played on the two side screens and the show began...

ALRIGHT............YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST, THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD, KISS. The curtain dropped and the band instantly kicked in with 'Modern Day Delilah'. Gene, Paul & Tommy entered the stage from up and over the drum kit using more light effects than the Vegas Strip. Both pyro and lighting seemed to be at a minimum as they played 'Cold Gin' and 'Let Me Go Rock 'N' Roll. As the band then started to play 'Firehouse', the stage filled with smoke and every screen had flames across them. This, added to the pyro, made the whole stage appear to be on fire. To end this song, Gene came out to perform his infamous fire breathing routine. Next up was 'Say Yeah' and the crowd sang along to the chorus, like it's a song that they'd known for years (a real highlight for me). Once again, everyone went wild as they started to play 'Deuce', proving that even younger fans love 'Classic KISS'. Next in the set was one that UK KISS fans have wanted to hear live since 1988 (well, some of us); hit single 'Crazy Crazy Nights'. It went down as well as you could expect, with most fans in each city jumping with pure delight. Following this was one of my personal favorites, 'Dr. Love'. Gene's vocals were on top form throughout the whole UK leg of the tour.  Tommy was next to take centre stage receiving a warm welcome from the crowd, singing 'Shock Me'. What can only be described as a thunderous solo duet from The Catman And The Space Man followed. Tommy was first up for a lead solo (with drums), playing the guitar behind his back before sending it flying in the air. He then leaves the stage and Eric kicks in with an awesome drum solo. The pounding of the bass drum ripped through the whole of your body. Tommy then returned and fired two rockets from his guitar (one from each side of the stage). Both the Drum kit and the Space Man (on a platform) then rose and Tommy fired a third rocket from his guitar. Popping up from behind his skins, Eric fired a missile from a rocket launcher and blew down part of the lighting rig. All the band then returned as they played new Gene song 'Animal'. This was a lowlight for a lot of fans, but I personally loved it and it got better each night. KISS proceeded with '100,000 Years'. During this song, Paul took over and did the usual swinging of his microphone and stretching of the vocal chords. As the song came to an end, Gene appeared again to perform his even more infamous routine... spitting blood. With blood and drool running from his chin, he flew up into the lighting rig to sing 'I Love It Loud' (personally, I would have preferred to have heard 'God Of Thunder' at this point, but hey, I didn't get to pick the set list). 'Love Gun' followed which was yet another favorite amongst the crowd. Paul continued the show by having a little jam to Led Zeppelin classic 'Whole Lotta Love', which led into 'Black Diamond' with Eric taking over vocals. KISS then closed the first part of their set with 'Detroit Rock City', ending with the drum kit in mid air and the whole band in a still pose for 30 seconds(ish). The band then left the stage.

After 2-3 minutes of watching the lighting technician play with the dimmer switch on the KISS logo, all 4 members of KISS returned to the stage giving a bow and throwing some goodies out to the crowd. The lighting and pyro really kick in now. The band hit off the encore with 'Lick It Up' whilst a montage of KISS albums rolled across the screens. With time getting on, the band performed 'Shout It Out Loud'. Paul then flew over the crowd on a zip wire to perform 'I Was Made For Loving You' on a revolving platform. He then returned back to the stage via the zip wire to play the 1992 hit 'God Gave Rock And Roll To You II'. Not only was this a hit with the crowd, but you've got to give full credit to the guys who put the videos together on the screens. There was a tribute to classic bands such as 'The Beatles', 'Led Zeppelin', 'Rolling Stones'..... and an amazing tribute to the late Eric Carr (definitely a highlight of the show). The video also included many shots of both Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

The show came to a conclusion with none other than 'Rock And Roll All Nite', sending so much confetti in the air, you could hardly see the stage. Gene and Tommy then rose on individual platforms, as did Eric's drum kit, leaving Paul on the stage to smash his guitar and throw his microphone about once more. The band then come back together at stage level as they say goodnight for a final time and leave the stage with a message on the back screen 'KISS LOVES 
YOU......(whichever city you're in).
 
DAILY DIARY
 
DAY 1 - (May 1st 2010) - SHEFFIELD

  • Sheffield - Sheffield Arena - (KISS _ May 18th 1992 _ Sixth UK Tour), (KISS _ Rehearsals _ 
    April 20th 2010), (KISS _ May 1st 2010 _ Eighth UK Tour)

  • Watched from the front - Tommy side    

  • Even though the crowd were on top form, there was still plenty standing space and empty seats. The back of the arena was also curtained off.

  • Gene's harness/hoist didn't work at first but after a hand gesture to the road crew he was soon up and away

  • The video controller forgot to put Paul on the main screen. With a harsh word from Paul, problem was solved

  • Got a Gene Simmons pick


 

Sheffield Arena  The Show 



DAY 2 - (May 2nd 2010) - NEWCASTLE

  • Sheffield - Corporation Club - (Ace Frehley _ April 10th 2008 _ Rocket Ride Tour)

  • Bradford  - St Georges Hall - (KISS _ September 28th 1988 _ Fifth UK Tour)

  • Whitley Bay - Whitley Bay Ice Rink - (KISS May 17th 1992 - Sixth UK Tour)

  • Newcastle - Newcastle City Hall - (KISS _ October 29th 1983 _ Third UK Tour), (KISS _ October 7th & 8th 1984 _ Fourth UK Tour), (KISS _ September 29th 1988 _ Fifth UK Tour)

  • Newcastle - Trillians Rock Bar - Met some friends here for a few beers before the show. Had KISS playing in here all day and a very expensive KISS menu.

  • Newcastle - Metro Radio Arena - (KISS _ MAY 2nd 2010)

  • Saw the Gene Simmons van for the first time and had a quick chat with the drivers Paul & Billy.

  • Watched from the front - Gene Side 

  • KISS (as a Band) seemed to be better settled and more pyro appeared used

  • Not full but a much bigger crowd which added to the atmosphere

  • Tommy had guitar issues during 'Firehouse' (apparently due to breaking a guitar string)

  • Gene had lyrical complications during 'Animal'

  • !!Got Gene's drinking cup!!

Sheffield
Corporation Club 
Bradford
St Georges Hall 
Whitley Bay
Ice Rink 
Newcastle
City Hall 
Newcastle
Metro Radio Arena 
Gene Simmons Van 
Me & Gene Simmons Van  The Show 


 
 
Day 3 - (May 3rd 2010) - No Show Today

  • Wales - Deeside Leisure Centre - (KISS _ September 6th 1980 _ Second UK tour)

  • Liverpool - Arriving a day early, I decided to take a look over by the arena. I spoke to the truck drivers carrying all the KISS gear for a while before going to check out 'The Cavern Club' where 'The Beatles' started many moons ago. Along the way I saw the Gene Simmons van again, Paul and Billy (the drivers) came with me to the club for a few beers. Whilst there, another roadie gave me a Paul Stanley plectrum. From here I just picked up a chinese (curry, not woman) and headed to my hotel.


Clwyd, Wales
Deeside Leisure Centre
Echo Arena Carpark
KISS Crew Trucks 


 
Day 4 - (May 4th 2010) - LIVERPOOL

  • Liverpool - Had a kissinuk meet up with some fellow forumees which basically started and 
    finished in the pub

  • Liverpool - Echo Arena - (KISS _ May 4th 2010 - Eighth UK Tour)

  • Had a quick chat with Billy (the driver)

  • Watched from the front - Centre Stage

  • KISS (as a band) were even more solid

  • Appeared to be the smallest crowd so far and for the whole UK leg

  • Eric's drum riser seemed to stumble when lowering

  • When Paul 'flew' over to rotating stage the crowd rushed towards him, leaving tons of space and few people at the front

  • No risers were used whatsoever at the end of the show

Liverpool
Echo Arena 
The Show 


 
DAY 5 - (May 5th 2010) - BIRMINGHAM
I spent the whole day at home after driving back the previous night. My main mission for the day was to convince my little brother (who by the way listens to rave, drum n bass and RnB) to come with me. He knows all the songs anyway after years of it from me, my dad and my older brother so at the last minute he decided to 'see what all the fuss is about'. When we left the arena afterwards, his words were ''even with all the raves I've been to, that was by far the best show I've ever seen''. I now seem to have a few gaps in my KISS CD collection and can hear some very familiar music coming from his bedroom (I think we have another convert).

  • Birmingham - N E C - (KISS _ September 26th & 27th 1988 _ Fifth UK Tour), (KISS _ May 25th & 26th 1992 _ Sixth UK Tour), (KISS _ November 20th 1996 _ Seventh UK Tour)

  • Birmingham - LG Arena - (KISS _ May 5th 2010 _ Eighth UK Tour)
      

  • Spoke to Billy and Paul again. They gave me a 'Punisher/Axe Bass' leaflet and a set list taken from the stage the previous night.

  • Watched from front - Centre Stage

  • Still not a full crowd but appears to be the most so far

  • Gene starts to sing 'Animal' too early

  • Paul appears to be in good spirits and is very active on stage

  • Paul cracks a joke, 'one guy says, each time I clap my hands a child dies. Well stop clapping your f**kin hands' (hint/jibe at Bono)

  • Got 2 Paul Stanley Picks

Birmingham
LG Arena 
The Show 
Entrance to
Birmingham NEC 


 
Click here to read part 2 of Dans report