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Review

KISS Kruise 2011 Review - Part 1
Review & pictures  by - Daniel Hill



MY STORY: By Daniel Hill

WEDNESDAY 12th OCTOBER
I got to Miami around 3pm, the sun was a killer!! After checking into my hotel, I got ready to go to the Hard Rock Cafe where I’d arranged to meet up with some friends from back home in the UK. What a pre-party this turned out to be. It was the first place that I had been and already I had met up with friends and coincidently, bumped into other fans that I had met out and about in previous years. From here, pretty much everyone went onto the Transit Lounge where Sixthman (the Cruise Company) were throwing a pre-party of their own. This place was even better than the last one. Inside the club, ‘The Monster Rock Show’ (a band that were on the line-up for the Kruise) were playing 80’s classic covers including Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Dio, Iron Maiden and more. Outside, there was a KISS disco and a face painting stall... to cut a long story short, I left at 3am having one too many beers, after dancing on the speakers using a cardboard tube as a guitar, with my face painted as Tommy Thayer (not willing to get into an Ace/Tommy debate... This is 2011 – Not ‘73 or ’96!!).

01 - Hard Rock Cafe (Miami) 02 - Re-United Kingdom 03 - Me, Tracy, Paul & Billy (genesimmonsaxe)
04 - Monster Rock Show 05 - Stu puts on the war paint 06 - Jackie, Me & Stu

THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER
Unsurprisingly, I woke up feeling a bit rough but knew I had no time to hang around. I grabbed my suitcase and headed to the Port Of Miami where the Carnival Destiny was due to set sail on the first ever KISS... Wet, Wild, Rockin Kruise.
With my bags checked-in, I collected my sail & sign card, KISS ticket and photo information and I was set to sail, soon!! Now, every excited Kiss fan had to hang around in the waiting area for a couple of hours before finally being called to board the ship. My friends and I headed for a spot top deck as we then had another few hours to wait before we could check into our rooms. This was to become the prominent spot you could find at least someone from our group over the weekend... mainly because it was one of the limited areas on the ship that permitted smoking!! After grabbing some food from the buffet, I sat casually eating whilst Skid Row approached the table next to ours and got comfy. After they had signed my flag, I took some photos and then just sat, waiting in the sun. Soon enough, another 60 minutes passed then Fran, Spike, Paul and Michael began a sound check on the outdoor stage. This was just to the right of our table...it was the point you actually realised what you were going to witness, not only today, but over the coming days. When I did finally venture down to my cabin, my bags were waiting for me along with a KISS Kruise handheld bag laid on the bed, one for each passenger. At around 4pm, the whole ship was summoned to a safety briefing. As soon as the buzzer rang to end the meeting, a mad dash ensued up the stairs as people rushed to get their spot for the outdoor, unmasked & unplugged sail away show. Much to my delight, I ended up standing in the second row, centre stage. All I needed to do now was to wait for 1 final hour.

01 - Me with Dave 'Snake' Sabo & Johnny Solinger (Skid Row) 02 - Me & Scotti Hill (Skid Row) 03 - Me & Rachel Bolan (Skid Row)
04 - Miami 05 - Fran Steuber (Paul's tech) 06 - Fran, Spike, Michael and Paul (KISS techs) prepare for outdoor show


Cheers started to roar from the right of me as Gene, Paul, Eric and Tommy made their way to the stage, all wearing shades to block out the beautiful Miami sun. The four casually dressed members of KISS acknowledged the crowd for a moment or two before taking up positions to commence their acoustic set. With chants from the crowd getting louder, the band started the show with a set list to make any fan; old or new, speechless. 

The set list:
Hotter Than Hell – Calling Dr. Love – Sure Know Something – Christine Sixteen – Do You Love Me? – Shandi – I Love It Loud – Forever – See You Tonite – Black Diamond – Hard Luck Woman (Paul on vocals) – Beth (Eric on vocals) – Every Time I Look At You – Just A Boy / I / Mr. Blackwell (partial ‘Elder’ medley) – Anything For My Baby / Two Timer – C’mon And Love Me – Rock And Roll All Nite

Both the beginning and ending of the set were clearly rehearsed, I felt, as the band, literally, sailed through the songs. However, it was obvious to see that ‘The Elder’ medley was dropped in after increasing crowd chants. This was extremely cool to witness, as it no longer felt like we were watching a staged performance. It was now four guys in a jamming session, doing their very best to get through what they could remember of these songs...but with a hell of a lot of help from the crowd, many of whom knew them better than Gene and Paul!!
KISS appeared to be in good spirit, laughing and joking amongst themselves like trusted pals. It became clear that this line-up was still a tight unit of people that enjoyed working together. A very noticeable point throughout the whole of this show was that Gene no longer gyrated and drooled at any of the female attention in the crowd, that he notoriously insist ‘’want him’’. Instead, he chose to shake his finger and make a gesture towards his wedding ring (is this a newly reformed Gene Simmons...or was it simply because his now wife, Shannon Tweed, was less than five feet away to the left of the stage?!)

Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show
Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show
Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show
Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show (Gene's wedding ring)
Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show
Outdoor Show Outdoor Show Outdoor Show

Comedian, Craig Gass, was up next to host the ‘KISS Q&A’. A stool and microphone were placed on the stage to enable Eric to go up front, alongside his band mates. A few weeks prior to the Kruise, fans were asked to submit any questions they would like to ask the band. From there, a limited number of fans were then chosen to ask KISS their question on the outdoor stage.
Highlights for me from the Q&A–

  • Paul was asked why he chose to have a rose tattoo on his arm, followed by Gene muttering under his breath ‘‘because he’s gay’’. Paul then tried to encourage Gene to repeat himself out loud but refused by just saying ‘’No, it’s not true’’.

  • One guy said he had spent all of his money going on the KISS Kruise whilst his children wanted to go to Disney World...Would KISS be willing to pay for a family holiday?? Gene then put his hand up and said ‘’I will personally send your children to Disney World’’.

  • Another guy pointed out that many fans had dressed up as a member of KISS at some point in their lives. He proceeded to ask ‘’Have you ever dressed up as anyone you idolise, if so, who?”, then directing it at Eric and Tommy which got a few laughs. Tommy coolly answered ‘’yes, when I was 13 I dressed up as Ace Frehley for Halloween”.

  • An 18 year old girl from Argentina became quite emotional at meeting KISS. Paul put his arm around her whilst saying ‘’don’t cry for me Argentina’’. A real bad pun, but it was pretty funny at the time!!

  • Someone (I think Craig Gass) pointed out that Paul was doing most of the talking, to which he replied ‘’Gene can’t speak for himself anymore... he’s married’’.

  • And finally... Craig Gass does several impressions of Gene, mainly about his love for money.

KISS Q&A KISS Q&A KISS Q&A
KISS Q&A KISS Q&A KISS Q&A
KISS Q&A KISS Q&A KISS Q&A
KISS Q&A KISS Q&A KISS Q&A
KISS Q&A KISS Q&A KISS Q&A


As the band exited the stage, I was handed a drumstick by Eric then shook hands with Gene, Paul and Tommy. The ‘KISS Around The World’ event was next. A large map was situated on the wall with ‘Icons’ stickers available to place onto the country where you live. I think it was a total of 33 countries being represented on the ship. After a quick change of clothes, Stu and I headed for the miniature golf course at the very top of the ship to watch the ‘Putt Putt With Tommy Thayer’. Fans were able to compete in a knockout round before the five finalists played a full game of miniature golf against Tommy. The settled dark sky had a prominent wind, making it difficult for anyone to take control over the direction of the ball. At this point, Tommy signed my flag. As the game started to draw to a finish, we headed for the ‘KISS Casino Night’ to get our hands on some limited edition KISS Kruise chips. Two of the blackjack tables had been impressively re-laid with KISS Kruise felt; the Kruise emblem and the anchor logo embellished all over it. It was announced that it would be a while before Eric would arrive. I took this opportunity to catch the remaining part of the Skid Row set, up on the lido deck. Those guys are awesome at getting the crowd pumping, especially by playing hits like ’18 and Life’ and ‘Youth Gone Wild’. Upon my return to the casino, I was disappointed to find Eric had already been and gone. Doc McGhee stayed for a game of blackjack, which compensated for it!! As I’m not much of a gambler, I watched the last 20 minutes of ‘The Brian Collins Band’ who were playing in the casino and decided to return to the lido deck and wait for our next outdoor show. 

‘Bad City’ are a new band on the scene but, in my opinion, are amazing. Kissonline first introduced me to the band as one of their songs is ‘Call Paul Stanley’. It was then announced they had landed themselves an opening spot for KISS on the 2011 tour and were going to be one of the acts on the Kruise. Within a week, I had their debut album ‘Welcome To The Wasteland’ and was instantly hooked. If you haven’t heard it yet, I advise you to do so...anyway, as you can imagine, I thought they were awesome.

Towards the end of the night, ‘The Big Rock Show’ was the last band to play on the lido deck, with a ‘Pyjama Party’ theme. On the upper level, the first 500 people in line were to receive a pair of the ‘brand new, all in one, KISS pyjamas’. After changing into my new KISS nightwear (!!) I went back to the lido deck to meet some friends and watch the show. Once it was over, Stu and I went for a walk to the Palladium, luckily the door was open. We wandered in, took a seat and chat whist the crew set the stage for tomorrow night’s Indoor KISS show. Twenty minutes passed with an opportunity to take some good photos before being asked to leave. As it was getting late, Stu decided to call it a night so I head back to the casino for, what was meant to be, a short visit. Doc McGhee had stayed for a longer game of blackjack than you would imagine!! Skid Row partied at the bar. As I went to get a drink, the guys from ‘Bad City’ called me over to sit and drink with them (they had spotted me earlier that night singing along to their songs at the front of the stage). Next thing I knew, it was 5am and I’m just walking back into my cabin.......... And it’s only the 1st day!

01 - 'KISS Around The World' map 02 - 'Putt Putt With Tommy Thayer' 03 - 'Putt Putt With Tommy Thayer'
04 - 'Putt Putt With Tommy Thayer' 05 - Skid Row 06 - Skid Row
07 - Skid Row 08 - 'KISS Kruise' Blackjack table 09 - 'KISS Kruise' Blackjack table
10 - Brian Collins Band 11 - Bad City 12 - Bad City
13 - Blackjack with Doc McGhee 14 - Monster Rock Show 15 - Johnny Solinger (Skid Row) performing with 'Monster Rock Show)
16 - Indoor KISS stage being set up in 'Palladium' 17 - Me & Rich Lombardo (Bad City) 18 - Me & Max Perenchio (Bad City)


FRIDAY 14th OCTOBER
‘Half Moon Cay’ was the first stop for the ship, an island privately owned by the Kruise Company. I awoke to find we had already arrived at this beautiful attraction. As a group, it was decided the previous day that we were not going to venture off the boat. We thought that if KISS were going to walk about onboard, it would be today, when most people would take this opportunity to do their own thing on the beach.

We began the day just sat in the sun, being on holiday too after all!! Craig Gass was about at this time, chatting briefly as he signed my flag and Stu’s copy of ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels – Series 3 (Roast Edition). About an hour later, Paul (an old school friend of Stu) came back to the table after just bumping into Paul Stanley. He was gutted to not have had his camera and we were too because we had missed it. However, within 2 minutes, I saw Michael Frances and Paul Stanley walking across the top deck. Me, Stu and Paul headed up there in hope of having our photo taken with our Idol, plus a couple of signatures. Luckily, our friend Karl was just on his way back to the table and spotted us on the upper level speaking with Paul and came up too. Stanley gratefully signed the items he was given and posed for pictures with us and chatted with the small group of fans that were up there. Stuart then got into a conversation with Michael Francis about Stoke City Football Club (this is certainly a sign that it’s time to leave). We went back to our table to relax and chat for the afternoon before people started coming back onto the ship. As time started to pass, Stu, Jackie, Karl and Jasmine went for something to eat before they were due for their photo with KISS. I decided to check out deck 7 where the KISS dressing rooms are stationed. When I got there, I bumped into Paul and Billy [Two guys that drive the ‘Gene Simmons Axe’ bus that I met last year on the ‘Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour (but that’s a different story... http://www.kissinuk.com/kisscr52.htm )]. Anyway, after a brief chat they disappeared for a while, but it wasn’t long before they returned to Gene’s dressing room with the ‘Axe Bass’ and the new limited edition ‘Firehouse Axe Bass’ that he is due to use later that evening. After letting a couple of fans take pictures, they headed off with the guitars to the palladium where both indoor shows will be taking place. After about 15 minutes, I saw Michael Francis again and he came over to sign my book ‘Michael Francis – Star Man’. He went off into one of the dressing rooms before reappearing with all four members of KISS, in full attire. They all made their way through the corridor towards the lift, tapping fists with all the waiting fans that appeared at the doors of their rooms. It was quite funny to see these four guys in full costume and two huge security guards squeeze into one of the glass lifts on the ship.

As the band made their way to the photo session, I headed back to my cabin for a shower and a change of clothes before the first indoor show. I eventually met up with the rest of the group and we made our way over to the palladium. 

03 - Me & Paul Stanley 04 - Me, Stu & Paul Stanley
01 - Half Moon Cay 02 - Stu & Craig Gass (Comedian)
05 - Billy with Gene's 'Punisher' 06 - Me with Gene's new 'Firehouse Axe'
07 - Meeting KISS on the way to 1st photo session 08 - Meeting KISS on the way to 1st photo session 09 - Meeting KISS on the way to 1st photo session
10 - Meeting KISS & Michael Francis on the way to 1st photo session 11 - Meeting KISS on the way to 1st photo session 12 - Stu, Jackie, Jasmine & Karl with KISS


We went our separate ways to find our seats. Myself, Stu and Jackie were front row on the left. (And front row it is. There was no barrier or press pit). At around 8:50pm the crowd cheered as Shannon entered the palladium and made her way to her seat. Just after 9pm KISS walked onto the stage with no ‘‘you wanted the best, you got the best...’’ introduction. Paul said a few words before the band got to work on yet another set list that blew the minds of all that was there to witness this special event.

The set list:
1. Room Service – Two Timer - Comin' Home - Strutter - Nothin' To Lose - Love Her All I Can - She - Take Me - Goin' Blind - Parasite - Rock Bottom - All the Way - Got To Choose - Shout It Out Loud - Lick It Up - C'mon And Love Me .......... Encore: Hard Luck Woman - Beth - Rock And Roll All Nite

As you can see, the set list was amazing and KISS, once again, were on top form. Many times throughout the show, the band would make their way to the front of the stage as the crowd just handpicked plectrums from the guitars and pushed forward just to touch the killer platform boots worn by the ‘iconic’ characters. At one point, Gene was just resting his dragon boot on the shoulders of the fans in the front row. He also once again chose to shake his finger and point to his wedding ring throughout the show as Shannon watched on from the sound desk up on the balcony.
As I left the palladium with my swag, I took the opportunity to get a photo and autograph from Doc McGhee.

 1st Indoor Show  1st Indoor Show  1st Indoor Show
 Me & Doc McGhee


After returning to my cabin and changing into my Scream outfit for the ‘Halloween Theme Night’, I headed back up to the lido deck where there is a contest for the best/scariest/imaginative costume. The extreme and expense that some people had gone to was unreal. Once the judging was over, the outdoor party began.

With more alcohol being served, the wilder people became, especially the guys from Bad City. The crowds seemed to grow around them as they sang, stripped and danced all over the top deck... just genuinely having a good time. I sat with the KISS guitar technicians (Fran, Spike and Michael) for about an hour, chatting mainly about English football and how each of them wound up working for KISS. 

I then headed to the bar for a drink with some of the people I had met over the past few days. Once again I had lost track of time and it was 5:30am when I got back to my cabin

01 - Halloween 02 - Halloween (Me & my brother from another mother) 03 - Halloween
04 - Halloween (Ugliest girl on the boat) 05 - Halloween 06 - Halloween (KISS Navy)
07 - Halloween (KISSter potato head..aka Andy) 08 - Halloween (KISS m&m's) 09 - Halloween (Me & Eddie)
10 - Halloween (KISS Kittens) 11 - Halloween (Bevis & Butthead) 12 - Halloween 'Phanton' Paul & 'Artist' Paul)
13 - Halloween ('Artist' Paul & 'Crazy Nights' Paul 14 - Halloween (Bad City) 15 - Halloween (Me & Rich Lombardo {Bad City})
16 - Halloween (Me & Alec Cyganowski {Bad City}) 17 - Halloween (Me & Fran Steuber {Paul's tech}) 18 - Halloween (Me & Michael Berger {Tommy's tech})


 
Click here to read part 2 of Dans report