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Sonic Boom Over Europe

May 2010
Review and pics by Paul Finn

Well, who really thought after Download in 2008 that KISS would actually come back and do a UK tour? Certainly not me that's for sure but they did and they've delivered 110% yet again. Unfortunately I only made it to 2 of the shows, Birmingham & the final UK show at Wembley, but from all accounts with the exception of a small turnout in Liverpool the entire UK leg of was a great success. The set list has been kept the same throughout the UK shows, although rumors are that it may be experimented with slightly as the tour moves through Europe.

Right at the start before you hear "All right [insert name here]..." we're now treated to parts of the MDD video (with the band larger than life walking around a city) followed by pre-recorded footage of them walking to the stage with Doc, brilliant touch. Modern Day Delilah is the new opener and sees that curtain drop and the band rise up over the drums and hit the stage, this is just phenomenal and sets expectations high. Personally I'd still like to hear Deuce as the opener with MDD pushed further in, but I've spoken to a lot of people about this and it looks like I'm in the minority.

Paul's vocal chords have been a point of discussion ever since the 2008 tour, this tour will hopefully put those discussions to rest... At Birmingham he sounded great, a little strained at times but no real problems, however during the Wembley show his voice was faultless, I hope this is a good indication of what the rest of Europe are about to experience. Incidentally it was nice to hear Paul pronounce Birmingham right throughout that show, "Birming-um"!!

Cold Gin, Let Me Go Rock & Roll and Firehouse all followed next, some nice warm ups before the song that really started the show for me - Say Yeah. I love this song and the reaction it got from the crowd was fantastic, from here on the band goes into overdrive with both Deuce, Crazy Crazy Nights and Calling Dr Love. Crazy Crazy Nights was played on this tour for the first time in about 20 years (or as Paul said "last heard on Top Of The Pops"!), there were mixed reactions about this as it's one of those love/hate tracks, however it works, it's been given the KISS 2010 make over, sounds great and gets the crowd jumping. It makes perfect sense to include it when you consider how many new fans KISS have picked up since the last tour and who all know this one.

Shock Me was next up with Tommy on lead vocals, the song sounds great but I'd really like to have heard When Lightning Strikes instead of an Ace song. The effects are in full flow towards the end of the song when the drum & guitar solos make an appearance. Eric & Tommy have worked very hard to produce a joint effort here with lots of sibling rivalry. Tommy fires rockets from his guitar, and goes up on one of the risers. Not to be outdone Eric's drums rise up with a jet of co2 while he crosses his arms, shakes his head at Tommy and fires.... a bazooka!! Brilliant stuff, cheesy but very entertaining.

One thing that really stood out on the tour was the lighting, it was amazing and made taking a bad photo almost impossible. Just check out the photos I've taken of Gene breathing fire & Tommy's solo - a lot of care and thought has gone into this and apparently Gene had a close hand in the design. Along with this the entire stage design is very well thought out, what first looks like a stack of amps are actually monitors that are put to good use throughout the show from enhancing the pyro effects to displaying rotating cubes of album covers. The logo is now situated behind the band at stage level and rises up once the platform that brings the band to the stage is put back.

Next the third and final song from Sonic Boom, this time Gene's turn with I'm An Animal. At Birmingham he made a few mistakes on this one, but Wembley was better. It does sound good but from what I've heard this is one of the potential songs to be dropped for the rest of the tour. Next a song that Paul claims has been sung on every tour... 100,000 Years. Luckily this time it doesn't quite last as long as it's title, but not my favourite KISS song so a potential piss break here!

Gene flying to the lighting rig is back again, this time to I Love It Loud. It would have been nice to see God Of Thunder make a come back but this one still works well, complete with blood drooling from Genes mouth. Love Gun was next up, but no pulley to get Paul into audience this time (but the revolving stage is still there so no need to panic). The main set was finished off with Eric's brilliant rendition of Black Diamond ("Gene's got me under his thumb") and Detroit Rock City. At the start of Black Diamond Paul has dropped the intro to Stairway To Heaven and replaced it with Whole Lotta Love, again proving that he's no push over when it comes to playing guitar, after hearing this it'd be fantastic to hear them do a cover at some point.

As you can see no real surprises in the setlist, not too different from the last tour or indeed the Islington show, but the band are sounding so tight this time round you can definitely forgive them. After the customary bow, Paul made a comment about not liking bands who come on & off several times with an encore, so this will be the longest encore ever! He also said that the band will be back again, yes I know he says this every tour but it gives us all that little bit of hope that they will be back here again one day - and lets face it baring a 10 year gap from 1998-2008 he hasn't been wrong.

The first of the five songs included in the encore were Lick It Up (with The Who's Wont Get Fooled Again in the solo which sadly isn't played anymore before the show starts), Shout It Out Loud and I Was Made For Lovin You. It was during I Was Made that Paul made his way to the stage in the middle of the arena, a nice touch this time around is that the stage now revolves. 

The penultimate song is one I've waited almost 20 years to hear live as it was the song that got me into this band in the first place - God Gave Rock & Roll To You II. This sounded awesome on both the shows I went to, in particular Gene proving that he can still hit those high notes in the harmony towards the end. One very nice touch in this song are the pictures of Eric Carr that were displayed on the monitors very touching. Rock & Roll All Nite ends the show complete with ticker-tape, pyro, risers... the works. Yes this has been played every show since the make-up went back on in 1996 but it is the only way to end a KISS show.

I was lucky enough to go backstage at the Wembley show, the guys were in a fantastic mood, Gene was particularly impressed with a "cute kid" he'd just met, turns out he was talking about Liam Gallagher and Nicole Appleton's second son, Gene, named after the man himself. Eric made some comments about KISSin' UK which was great to hear, while Paul crouched down and signed my leather jacket for me (never to be worn again..?!). Brian May was also hanging around back stage, apparently he too enjoyed the show (along with Jimmy Page the night before!). I met several fans who were doing the meet & greet, it's no secret that these aren't exactly cheap but everyone I spoke had a great time and were treated very well by the band.

I really don't know how to finish off this review without saying if you haven't yet caught this tour (and it's not too late) then go see it, it is incredible. There's an empty feeling that fills you when you see your last show of a KISS tour, this is definitely no exception...

Some Aussie fans at the bar at the Ibis

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock And Roll
Say Yeah
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr Love
Shock Me
Tommy/Eric solo
I'm An Animal
100,000 Years
Gene solo
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
Black Diamond
Detroit Rock City

Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Lovin' You
God Gave Rock And Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite