Home News Review: KISS The Final Curtain – Accor Stadium Sydney – 7 Oct 2023

Review: KISS The Final Curtain – Accor Stadium Sydney – 7 Oct 2023

21 min read

I was trying not to think about the bittersweet tour title of ‘The Final Curtain’ when making my way into this historic music event. After last year’s behemoth farewell tour, Kiss were lovingly strong armed into making their way back to Australia.  A petition of at least 60,000 dedicated fans decided that they were not ready to say goodbye, Kiss had not reached the end of the road here, and thus ‘The Final Curtain’ was born! This night in Sydney came from a unique place in the heart, stemming from a deep love and respect for this beast of a band. Like lovers rendezvousing for one final encounter, we all came together as one, to celebrate and feel the boundless adoration and joy one final time.  A Kiss concert is more than just a gig, it’s an uplifting, sensory experience and this is a special chapter in our Kisstory that won’t be forgotten.

Sydney was buzzing and just driving into the venue was already a sight.  Kissteria was in full swing with the surge of people in Kiss clothing, make up and rock attire visible throughout Sydney Olympic Park. The merch stands were 10 rows wide.  Every food truck and drink area was swarming with early bird fans here to absorb every drop of this special occasion. Multi generations of families, with younger children in tow, is something you always witness at a Kiss gig.  It’s never too early to introduce kids to the world of Kiss.  The Kiss Army and the Kiss Family understand each other and know exactly why we are here.

Two lucky Aussie bands The Delta Riggs and Regurgitator were at the start of this 6-hour celebration.  Priming the fans and warming us up for what was to come, the crowd roared in appreciation as they rocked out and devoured their own exclusive positions as support to Kiss. Fans were already taking their ‘spots at the front’ in what Stanley later refers to as ‘animals here in the front’. This area is the brutal no mercy section of any rock gig. Late-comers who try to ruin all our tightly held spaces, and the camaraderie that has been building between us all, are not welcome. 

The momentum keeps rising as California rockers Weezer, the special guests of Kiss, also here on their own Australian tour, hammered out a cracking set.  They did not disappoint with classics like Island in the Sun, Buddy Holly, Hash Pipe and their new cover of Strutter, which I’ve read debuted in Melbourne, for the first time, the night before. You don’t tackle a Kiss cover in front of a Kiss crowd and risk anything other than perfection, and Weezer gave Strutter the respect it deserves.  Having this California band performing at the start of our Spring sunset was one of those memorable concert moments and a very apt introduction into the main course of our night.

The stadium was already heaving and we were fortunate that Sydney’s back-and-forth weather decided to stop on the ‘no rain’ button today. Drinks flowed, fans chatted and soon enough it was time for the Led Zeppelin intro of Rock and Roll blasting through the speakers and then the familiar ‘SYDNEEEEEY!!! You wanted the best, and you got the best!  The hottest band in the world… KISSSSSS!!!!!!’.  The crowd is beside themselves as the curtain drops for the final time and the band descends, as if from the Heavens, onto the stage.  Many of us know what’s to come and still can’t get enough.  Then we have a few ‘Kiss Virgins’ scattered here tonight, and I have one of those with me.  I’m curious to find out what she’s thinking after her head gets thumped by this spectacle of music and performance.

Looking a million bucks, like they always do, Paul, Gene, Tommy and Eric are already on fire, opening with Detroit Rock City. Fireworks light up the venue and, since our mid band break, it’s gone from anticipation to mayhem in record time. Shout It Out Loud is up next as fists pump the air and everyone revels and laps up as much as they can.  Deuce keeps this high pace going, with the heavy War Machine continuing the onslaught. The music, theatrics and pace of a Kiss gig never waivers. We are treated to classics and anthems, one after the other, and one of my 80’s favourites, the sexy Heaven’s On Fire, makes the list tonight.  Then it’s back to another anthem, I Love It Loud, as Gene breathes fire for us, one last time, and then back to a Sonic Boom album favourite, Say Yeah.

Kiss then go old school with Cold Gin and then the wonderful Spaceman solo enthrals the crowd as Tommy Thayer rips up the stage and shoots fireworks out of his guitar. The kids in the crowd are wide eyed as their parents lift them up higher, you can see the big ear muffs trying to soften the loud rock on their young ears. Then it’s the cheeky 80s track of Lick It Up, which is still a fun addition to these gigs, as it’s intertwined with The Who’s ‘Never Be Fooled Again’.  Then it’s time for Simmons and his crowd pleaser, Calling Dr. Love. I don’t think I’ve heard the next song in a setlist for a long time as Stanley gives us another 70’s gem with Makin’ Love.  We are then treated to a guitar duel between Stanley and Thayer before the cranking of Psycho Circus echoes across the stadium. I love the energy of this song and its unabashed lashings of rock’n’roll as we then roll seamlessly into a Singer drum solo where the Catman pummels those skins while toying, winking and pouting for the fans.

I never get sick of watching all this and turn to the lovely Adelaide couple I met standing behind us and say ‘I can’t believe this is the last time I will be seeing this’ and the lady nods and replies ‘I know’ as we both make a very sad face. This is another aspect of Kiss gigs that I love and I remember Stanley had previously asked the crowd ‘so where are you all from?’  There were many screaming replies of the different cities and countries where fans had travelled from.  People travelling far and wide, coming together, being united by Kiss and their music, is unique and special.

What a beautiful night this is. The magnitude of this occasion was starting to hit me but I had to keep focus as we were now being taken back to Simmons’ den and one of his other signature moments, the Demon! We get a little bit of 100,000 years and some loaded bass as Simmons begins his Demon blood spitting. Another genius moment of a Kiss show, and the only time I have found gore to be entertaining, as Simmons is lifted up and hammers the dark God Of Thunder from above the stage. The stadium is mesmerised as the Demon then makes way for the Starchild with Stanley’s signature moment of flying across the crowd onto the second stage in the middle of the ground for some Love Gun.

Stanley and the band are all in great shape and spirits.  You can clearly feel how they genuinely love what they do. Stanley shimmies and struts with a tight tush that puts many to shame.  We’re all in awe as he continues to control and entertain us with ease as he then joyfully flies back to the main stage before some Black Diamond finishes off this corker of a main set. An eruption of screams and cheers fills the stadium as the fans show their appreciation and wait for a killer encore.

I notice my notes are a mess as I’ve been trying to just absorb the night.  I quickly fix what I can before the stage is set with a solitary piano for Singer to serenade us with the heart tugging ‘Beth’.  As phone lights twinkle across the stadium, it’s hard not to get emotional until some random male fan actually invades the stage.  Thankfully, he is carted off quickly.  What an unexpected sight during a love song and I wondered if he planned it or was just caught up in the moment.  My eyes welled up with tears and my heart turned to goo when ‘Shandi’ snuck into this mega set list. Stanley had said during the gig that ‘Australia is like our second home’ and it was so sweet to hear this again live.  

The night wasn’t over yet as Dynasty’s ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ got the hardcore crowd up and dancing for more rock. For many, this classic track was their first introduction to Kiss. Its longevity has endured, just like the rest of the Kiss songs, that you cannot imagine a musical world without them. The same can be said for another Kiss anthem, tonight’s finale, the brilliant ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’.  Balloons and confetti filled the stadium as everyone sang, danced and cheered. As Stanley smashes his guitar, much to the delight of the fans, Kiss are given yet another standing ovation.

As five decades of this much-loved touring spectacle come to a close, it has been an absolute privilege to have these last few hours together again.  You can see the emotion on the band members faces, especially Stanley and Simmons.  As they bow, wave and bid ‘adieu’, this is a band that have created something so unique and special, they love their fans and we adore them. Their legacy will continue long after we’re all gone.

As we leave the stadium with mixed emotions, I ask my friend what she thought of her first and only Kiss experience.  She replied ‘What an amazing theatrical show. Love the energy of Paul and how he really engaged the crowd and made sure we were enjoying ourselves, and Gene did his impressive Demon thing’.  There has always been a lot to say about Kiss but hearing it from an uninitiated audience member, and how much she enjoyed the show, was a thrill for me as Kiss have always gone above and beyond for their fans.

As we say goodbye and wish them well, let’s raise a glass and toast the dazzling, jaw-dropping costumes, the creative set designers, pyrotechnic and SFX masters that have lit up the stages so brilliantly.  A toast to all the unsung heroes behind the scenes that have helped keep this crazy rock’n’roll circus alive. A big thanks to the promoters, publicists, drivers and bookings agents that bring this spectacle to town. Let’s salute the mighty Kiss Army, the most loyal, friendly, crazy bunch of fans a band could ever hope to have.  And last of all, the loudest of cheers to all the members of KISS, past and present, for their incredible talent, dedication, tenacity and ability to bring us decades of joy through their music and performance.  There really is no way to thank you enough.  We know that we will cherish our albums, our t-shirts and all our other memorabilia just that little bit more and we’re grateful to have been alive to witness the hottest band and the best rock show on Earth!  This evening’s special rendezvous may be over but the love affair will continue and we can only hope that we will some day meet again to enjoy a little more Kiss.

© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2023 (All Rights Reserved)

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