“This stage is so small, I have to leave to change my mind,” Kiss frontman Paul Stanley quipped onstage at the 500-capacity Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles Monday night. Less than two weeks into their End of the Road tour, which finds the band headlining arenas, the group opted for a far more intimate setup in conjunction with SiriusXM and their Kiss Army Radio channel.
Fans lined up hours before the gig to try to score an invite to the show, which saw celebs like LL Cool J, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal and George Lopez gawk at the Hall of Famers. (The marquee outside boasted “SiriusXM Presents Wicked Lester,” referring to the group’s original name.)
After longtime Kiss obsessive Tom Morello came onstage to mimic the group’s famous intro from 1977’s Alive II (“You wanted the best and you got the best!”), the group performed a 70-minute set that drew heavily from their 1974–77 heyday. (Three songs from the Eighties — 1982’s “War Machine,” 1983’s “Lick It Up” and 1984’s “Heaven’s on Fire” — rounded out the set alongside 2009’s “Say Yeah.”) “How many of you people have seen us in the Seventies?” Stanley asked the crowd to sizable applause.
In the middle of the show, Stanley acknowledged the role small venues played in the group’s early development now that the band has long been an arena act. (The show marked the group’s first at the Whisky and first club show in more than 20 years.) “To be able to relive what we did once upon a time is pretty fuckin awesome,” he said.
Prior to the show, the group walked across Sunset Boulevard in full makeup and costume to commemorate the evening and promote their channel.
After the penultimate song, “Black Diamond,” Stanley joked again about the intimacy of the venue. “That’s supposed to be the end, but we have no place to go,” he told the crowd before “Detroit Rock City.” “We can’t even leave the stage, we’re too friggin’ big.” Monday’s show may have had to forsake the typical arena trappings of pyro, fireworks and the like, but for the diehard fans in attendance used to seeing this friggin’ big band on a friggin’ big stage, it gave many of them the chance to get as close as they’ll ever get to their heroes.
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