KISS “End of the Road” World Tour. USANA Amphitheatre September 22, 2021
Reviewed by Brittany DeMott
Three years after Kiss announced their “End of the Road Tour”, fans finally got to experience the spectacle known as KISS! USANA Amphitheatre packed in over 20,000 die-hard KISS fans, ready to rock and roll all night, but maybe not party every day. For me, this was my third time seeing the band. I’m a 30-year-old woman, who has grown up her entire life listening to KISS. My Dad is one of their biggest fans and I thank him for enlightening me with some quality music.
Our seats were front and center, something only we have dreamed of. The tour was canceled the first year due to Gene getting surgery, and then, of course, the dreaded pandemic. I was starting to worry that I would never see my favorite band again – and then September 22nd came around. “Are you going to dress up?” People started asking me this, the answer? “DUH.” I chose to dress up as my favorite member, Paul Stanley.
Adorned with my make-up, my dad and I pulled into USANA right as doors open and got in fairly quickly. Once we were inside, I felt at home. The KISS Army (what they call their fans) did not disappoint. People wearing make-up of their favorite member, from young children to seniors, it was something we all had in common and something we all are excited about. If you know a KISS fan, it’s not just “Yeah, Kiss is great.” No, we live and breathe KISS. We are The KISS Army! There were a few people who went all-out in their costumes. It honestly could have been Gene Simmons walking around and you wouldn’t really have noticed the difference. I had so many people ask for pictures with me and just sharing that excitement was incredible.
We got to our seats and I about cried. It was unbelievable how close I was. I would be able to see every detail, every drop of blood Gene spit out, every dance that Paul would do. I could see Eric Singer perfectly, which is sometimes hard when you want to see the drummer. It was as if Tommy shredding on his guitar and was like a personal show for me. As we waited at our seats, an official KISS ARMY tour member came out on stage and pointed directly at me.
I just stared, confused, and he told me to come around on stage. He had a surprise for me. Security helped me on stage and this lovely man handed me Paul Stanley’s Ibanez Iceman that he opens the show with. Actual dream come true! I posed for some pictures and he gave me guitar picks and Paul’s used mic cover. Not sure what I will do with that, but I got it!
The original opener was going to be David Lee Roth, the frontman of Van Halen. Instead, David Garibaldi, a performance painter opened. What is that you ask? Well, this man turns on the song of the person he is painting and finishes the painting during the songs! He jams out, he rocks out, he really was a great start to the show. He painted Joan Jett, Freddie Mercury, and then KISS. They would be giving away the KISS one, signed by the band if you donated to charity.
It started getting darker, which meant Kiss was getting closer. The iconic curtain with “KISS” in giant letters went up. The crowd filled in, and I looked behind me to see a packed venue. My dad and I got our spots at the railing and waited for the show to begin. This was it, after all this waiting, I was going to see KISS perform their greatest hits 10 feet from my face.
The lights dimmed, the crowd screamed. Then we heard it, “YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST, THE HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD: KIIIISS!” The curtain dropped and from above the stage, down came Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley opening with “Detroit Rock City”. If you are a true KISS Army member, you know this set has essentially been the same for years – and we appreciate that. We want to hear their best songs, we want to be able to relive this show every time they go on tour. It is iconic in the rock and roll world. “I hear my song and it pulls me through. Comes on strong, tells me what I got to do!” We got up on our feet, we left our seat and we all lost our minds in Salt Lake City!
KISS has been a staple in the rock industry and they are still rocking out like it’s 1975. The costumes are pristine, the movements they do, and their voices haven’t changed a bit. The great thing about KISS is they interact with the crowd a lot. Paul spoke to the audience and let us know they love Salt Lake and he specifically remembers playing at the Salt Palace. We love a band that interacts, we feel special, we feel seen. It only makes The Army stronger.
Tommy Thayer is our Spaceman and a good one at that. Watching his solo during “Deuce” was one for the books. The way he shreds on that guitar, so effortlessly, is mesmerizing. KISS couldn’t have found someone so perfect to fill Ace Frehley’s platform boots. Paul (The Starchild) will swing his guitar behind his head and play each chord to perfection. Gene (The Demon) stomping across the stage will forever be a classic. Eric Singer (The Catman), one of the best drummers of our time will do a few solos throughout the night. He honestly could be asleep and hit every beat so effortlessly. His drum solos have got to be the best ones I have ever seen. This foursome couldn’t be a better match.
With every KISS show, comes some recognizable moments that we love to see. From crowd interactions such as throwing guitar picks out to the crowd, to Gene spitting out his water on your face. The Demon has some of the greatest stage tricks we have ever experienced. We see our Demon spitting fire – in classic Demon fashion. Gene performs “God of Thunder” and is one of my favorite parts of the show. Gene comes out with his ax bass, that he actually designed himself, and stares out at the crowd.
The thunder begins as he starts plucking his bass. He looks alarmed – confused almost. He keeps his mouth closed and his eyes wide. What is he up to? The bass gradually increases and the lightning starts. Gene throws his head back and starts shaking it back and forth until we see blood flowing from his mouth. The notorious tongue makes an appearance, as he spits blood everywhere and the crowd goes absolutely insane. He spits into a towel so he can start singing “God of Thunder” and throws that bloody towel into the crowd – that I caught.
Paul likes to include the Army that is not as close to the stage for a couple of songs. Paul will fly from the main stage above the crowd to a stage near the front of house and perform a few songs out there. I love when bands do this because not everyone is lucky to see them up close, but when they come to you, you don’t feel as forgotten about.
He performed “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Loving You” before returning to the main stage. Just a fun fact – Gene Simmons did point to me as he said the lyric “I was made for loving you.” My dad just rolled his eyes, I ate it up! I think my dad may have been a bit envious of the attention that I got. I got Paul’s attention, as well. He noticed me dressed as him in the crowd, stepped up to the end of the stage, and pointed at me. I mouthed “I LOVE YOU!” He did an “aww” face, put his hand to his heart, and said “I love you” back. Dead. I am dead at this point. Life made.
Paul would also do some of his notorious stage moves. Paul is a fantastic dancer and his moves are just so appealing. When I was 12, I sat 4th row and saw what I liked to call his “butt dances”. It’s all I talked about weeks leading up to this show. “I can’t wait to see Paul dance.” He definitely delivered those dance moves for us multiple times. He moved his body in ways only a true rock god could. Paul swings his mic around, throws it in the air, and catches it every time. He wraps and unwraps it around his neck before continues on singing.
The set was unforgettable. The lighting fit every song just perfectly and I felt my face burn from the flames. Tommy had fireworks on the end of his guitar that would shoot off. We had the fog, we had the fireworks, we had giant KISS balloons going through the crowd, we had it all. The sound vibrated your body and you couldn’t help but smile. KISS is not only an amazing band musically, they know how to put on a show. You hear stories about people who get “dragged” into going to Kiss concerts. Maybe someone who has only heard “Rock N Roll All Nite’ and isn’t really educated on these masters. They always leave the show entranced and end up becoming huge fans. Better late than never!
As the show started to wrap up we see a gemstone piano pushed onto stage. Eric sits at the bench and starts to play “Beth”. He performs Beth so amazingly well and it is one of the very first songs I fell in love with when I was young. I knew the show was coming to an end and I didn’t want it to. I could have stood there all night and listen to every song they have ever sung. “Do You Love Me” starts to play and only happiness comes to mind when I hear this song.
For many people my age, we are into KISS because of our parents. Memories of my dad singing “You really like my limousine, you like the way the wheels rolllll” while we put up the Christmas Tree flashes in my head. I am sure KISS triggers all sorts of memories for us fans. I spoke to a few people after the show that shared a similar story. KISS binds us together. We are one.
The most recognizable and singable song started to play. “Rock And Roll All Nite”. The confetti canons blast into the crowd with red and white raining down upon us. We really did keep on shouting that we wanted to rock and roll all night! Before the song ends, we have one last KISS moment. Paul smashing his guitar. He waves around a black Ibanez Iceman over his head as Eric is rising on his platform above the crowd drumming away.
Paul turns his back to the crowd and pretends to smash it as fireworks shoot from the stage. He turns around, kisses his guitar, and then SMASH! The guitar is split into two, he shows it off to the crowd – the music, crowd, and fireworks going crazy. He throws it side stage and the show is complete. Eric gave his drum sticks to the cutest child rocker I have ever seen. Her face lit up and I knew she just created a core memory. “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II” started to play and some crew members threw a handful of picks out, which created a small chaotic scene where I was standing. Everyone was digging through the confetti to find the picks!
The lights turned on and it was time to go. I walked out waving my bloody towel in my Starchild outfit as I yelled “Look everyone! I got his bloody towel!” Everyone would cheer for me and I couldn’t stop smiling. I know, it seems weird to be excited about a towel that someone spit into, but it was a piece of that night for me to remember. Don’t worry, I sanitized my hands and it’s currently sealed in a bag.
I have been to many concerts in my life but this one has taken 1st place. I slept 4 hours that night. The KISS adrenaline was strong in my body and I just wanted to relive that night over and over again. If you haven’t been to a KISS show, try to get to one as soon as possible. They are doing a string of shows in Vegas later this year, please go. Please experience the hottest band in the world: KISS!
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Heaven’s on Fire
I Love It Loud
Lick It Up
Calling Dr. Love
Tears Are Falling
Eric Singer Drum Solo
God Of Thunder
I Was Made For Lovin’ You
Do You Love Me
Rock and Roll All Nite
God Gave Rock and Roll To You II (exit song – not performed)