KISS Rocked and Rolled All Night With Charlotte Fans At PNC Music Pavilion
Legendary Rockers Bid Their Final Farewell To The Queen City
Written by: Kris Englehart | Photographs by: Luke Jamroz
When the legendary rockers KISS announced their End of the Road World Tour, I felt like a little piece of my rock and roll heart had died. Could this really be it? I mean, we had a Farewell Tour before so anything is possible right? Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and this time around looks to be literally the end of the road for the four masked men whose music has been such an integral part of our lives over the years. Saturday night KISS brought The Final Tour Ever to the PNC Music Pavilion making it “Charlotte Rock City” one more time.
As I made my way through the parking lots of the venue, I noticed a lone protester with a megaphone by the road near the main entrance spouting off about the devil’s music and whatnot, urging us to save our souls. I laughed and thought, do people still really think this way? Apparently, even the police officers that were working the crosswalk had enough of him because they had the radio in their cruiser blasting classic rock to drown him out. I guess it wouldn’t really be a KISS show without at least one protester. Moving past him, I made my way through security, got my ticket scanned and headed to the VIP check-in. After availing myself of the facilities, I grabbed a free Rita’s Italian Ice which was set up in the VIP club and was the perfect way to cool down after walking in the heat. While walking around the venue, I noticed the usual makeup clad fans and a merchandise stand that was being mobbed by throngs of people waiting to get their souvenirs.
I found my seat just in time to check out the opening act, performance painter David Garibaldi. David’s specialty is a “Rhythm and Hue” stage show where he quickly creates paintings of rock musicians while rock music is playing. He gets the audience involved in the show and it was definitely something different. I can honestly say I had never seen a painter opening up a rock show before. The masterpiece of the show was his painting of the four members of KISS with the word Charlotte emblazoned across the bottom. This particular painting was being signed by KISS and being auctioned off with proceeds going to Make a Wish America. The end result was absolutely incredible and any fan in the venue would have been lucky to take it home.
It was time now for a short break as the crew and crowd prepared for the main event of the evening, KISS! Screams and shouts could be heard throughout the pavilion as the black KISS curtain was in position, hiding all the stage for the big reveal yet to come. Soon, the lights dimmed and a tape of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” began to play as people stood up, screaming and shouting. The KISS Army was out in force tonight. Then you could hear the intro to the show, “You wanted the best. You got the best. The hottest band in the land, KISS!” as the curtain dropped and the venue went totally nuts. Amidst a sea of smoke, fog, and lights, Gene, Paul, and Tommy descended from above on flying saucer type discs like the rock gods that they are as the band launched into “Detroit Rock City.” From then on, it was non-stop action all night long as KISS gave the fans the show they wanted to see with all the hits and all the fanfare.
KISS always brings a phenomenal stage show with all the bells and whistles but for this final tour, there was more than ever before, much, much more. KISS brought enough flames to scare the hell out of that protester and enough confetti cannons to probably give the venue clean up crew some quality overtime. I can honestly say that this was the most enjoyable show I have been to in a long time. The fun never stopped and the fans were on their feet singing along the whole night. One of the coolest things about a KISS show is every member of the band gets there time to shine and although Gene and Paul are the only original members left, longtime members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are given equal treatment on stage. Bass guitarist and vocalist Gene Simmons has his Demon routine down pat as he breathes fire during “War Machine” and does things with his tongue that drives the female fans up front crazy.
Simmons also performed his infamous bass solo with blood spitting out of his mouth as he is lifted up to the rafters for “God of Thunder.” What rock fan on the planet doesn’t love this stuff? Guitarist Tommy Thayer got some solo time during “Cold Gin” during which he blasts pyro out of his guitar up at the disc hanging on the stage.
Vocalist and guitarist Paul Stanley was shimmying and shaking all over the stage and even took to the air as he flew across the audience on a trapeze to a small stage set up near the soundboard for “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.” Drummer Eric Singer did an epic solo during “100,000 Years” and again during the set closer “Black Diamon” where his kit was lifted high above the stage flanked by giant spinning pinwheels of pyro. The stage went dark bur nobody moved as they knew the best was yet to come.
A glistening grand piano was brought to the front of the stage as Eric Singer took his spot behind the keyboard for a poignant version of “Beth” which had the crowd lighting up the venue with their cellphones as they sang along. As he got to the end of the song, the rest of the band came out to join him around the piano before Paul handed him back his drum sticks because the night was clearly not over yet. The stage lit up with dazzling lights and lasers as a bevy of giant, black and white KISS balloons were dropped from the rafters during “Crazy Crazy Nights.” I looked around and two young girls in front of me were crying with excitement and everyone was having such a great time. It really was a crazy night, a night to always remember. Still, it wasn’t over yet. There was one more song to come and we all know what it is because it would be a sacrilege to fans if KISS didn’t play it. Sure enough, the final song of this crazy night was “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Huge plumes of smoke shot out from the front of the stage and confetti cannons blasted everywhere. I have been to hundreds of rock shows over the years and my fair share of KISS shows and I have never seen this much confetti. There was more pyro, more flames, and fireworks! Lots of pretty greens and pinks going off at the rear of the stage. KISS pulled out all the stops for this one and nobody wanted it to end. I think we all could have stood there listening to that one song all night long, screaming, shouting, singing and hugging each other. It was an epic ending to an epic night of rock and roll by a band that simply is “the hottest band in the land.”
We all began the slow walk from the venue to the parking lots as a taped version of “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II” played over the loudspeakers and all I could think was yes, yes he did and in his infinite wisdom, he also gave us KISS. This is one tour that you simply must see so grab your tickets while you still can. Don’t miss your chance to “Shout It Out Loud” one more time!