Paul Stanley, the iconic frontman of the flamboyant American rock band ‘Kiss,’ is prepared to hang up his heeled shiny black leather boots and wipe off the war paint on his face, but not before captivating his UAE fans one last time.
Aptly titled ‘Kiss: End Of The Road,’ their gig at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on October 13 will be their penultimate stop as part of their farewell tour, concluding in North America.
Over the past two years, these seasoned rockers embarked on their career’s final tour, with Covid-19 playing spoilsport, and now, the septuagenarian members of the Goth gang are ready to retire with an explosive bang.
“Our concerts are a real workout,” Stanley told Gulf News in an interview.
He has a point. Their onstage gigs and gimmicks are no staid strolls. Filled with pyrotechnics, fireworks, fake blood, and outlandish theatrics, this elaborately dressed Goth gang in their seventies would put any Bollywood musical or Halloween party to shame.
“If we weren’t dressed like this, we could have moved into our 80s, 90s, or whatever. We are superheroes who run around on stage with 30-40 pounds of gear, and we make it look easy. I am blessed that I can still do it, but hey, I am 71 years old, and it’s a real workout … You can’t beat the clock,” he added.
Refreshingly candid about his advancing age, the ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ singer reminds us that he has now reached a stage in his career where he believes time is precious. He also points out that the physical stress of being on the road has understandably begun to take a toll.
“Remember, there are no 70-year-old basketball players and there are no 70-year-old Formula One drivers or soccer stars. So what we are doing is unique to us. So we just realised that and said: ‘let’s go and celebrate who we are’.” He calls this farewell tour, especially the Dubai leg, an “emotional one”. Three years ago, this American rock group had spearheaded a record-breaking concert in this city studded with epic flame projections that broke the Guinness World Book Records.
“This time around, it’s kind of like the victory lap at the Olympics. We are coming with our fists raised … We are going to bring this enormous show,” said Stanley. Apparently, his last visit when he performed at a swanky hotel in Dubai for New Year’s Eve was a controlled affair.
“Our first introduction to Dubai, other than the magnificent architecture and skyline, was a bit surreal because we were virtually prisoners in the hotel and everybody there was being tested for Covid-19 constantly. It was a strange atmosphere, so I am thrilled to return when everything has lifted … And it’s always an honour to play here.”
The lead vocalist will be returning to Dubai with his original bandmate, Gene Simmons, drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer.
“This is our final tour and trust me, there won’t be another. I know people often say: ‘he will come back and we are actually not finished.’ But this is it.”
Biggest strength and pet peeves
And his biggest strength that has buoyed his band to keep going? His army of KISS fans.
“At every show we have tried to show our fans that they are important. When we first came on the scene, bands would go on stage like they were doing the audience a favour. But it’s the audience who did you all a favour and you [expletive] well owe it to them to make them feel special. We have never lost sight of the fact that without our fans, there’s no KISS. We wanted to be the band that gave everybody their money’s worth.” His biggest pet-peeve is when pop idols get on stage and complain of a “sore throat”.
“When you hit the stage, be prepared to leave your illness and your problems at the bottom of the stairs. If you can’t deliver the goods, you shouldn’t be on stage … If you go on stage, shut up and do what you are supposed to do. Don’t apologise. People paid and they are owed more than an apology for your sore throat.”
Perhaps it’s this staunch work ethic and fan-centric philosophy that has made his band, known for concerts that are more of a splashy spectacle, endure for over five decades.
“I always say this: ‘a crappy band with a big show is a crappy band’. We didn’t start as a band with everything. We started as a band making music we listened to. When I was young, I saw Led Zeppelin, I saw Jimi Hendrix twice and I saw all the greats. They inspired me. And it was never about being a part of a band with make-up and [fireworks] … Our music doesn’t need intellectualising or philosophising.”
He believes that KISS shows are one of the few living legends who can whip up a concert that appeals to the entire family.
“I know there are entertainers right now who can draw bigger crowds, but I don’t know if they are going to in the next 50 years. We have done that. Our devoted fan base is almost like a tribe … We don’t make art that is intellectual, we make art that’s emotional … That’s why people remember their first KISS concert, their first KISS song, and they remember when KISS first came on the radio. It’s a powerful connection.”
Don’t Miss It!
What: KISS: End Of The World Tour
When: October 13
Where: Coca Cola Arena
Tickets: Dh295 and above, available on www.coca-cola-arena.com