5 things to know about the extravagant glam-metal band

The American group Kiss and its hellish barnum are expected at Hellfest on Thursday June 15th. One of the last opportunities to see and hear the grimé quartet play their hits on stage.

The four of them have been making a hell of a racket for half a century and have sold more than 50 million albums. Their tour, carried out flat out since the start of 2019, shows that Kiss, the enduring American metal band, hasn’t let go of anything from the top of its 20 cm high “platform shoes”. However, this band of hilarious metal with exacerbated theatricality which is fun to scare, ensures that it wants to hang up the gloves. This tour called End of the road would be their exit from the road, their last tour. While waiting to see if they will keep their word, they will roll out their hits on Thursday June 15 at Hellfest and June 27 in Lyon (Halle Tony Garnier). A mess of all the devils feverishly awaited to finally get out of the exhausting noise of the real world.

1End clap?

After 50 years of career, Kiss performs a farewell tour. An intense tour started in January 2019, which has already taken them around the planet several times (we can imagine the number of flight hours and the related carbon footprint) despite the numerous postponements due to Covid-19. After a double passage last summer in France (Paris Bercy and Nîmes), the group is eagerly awaited at the Hellfest in Clisson on Thursday June 15 before making a final stop in Lyon on June 27 (Halle Tony Garnier).

As we know, we must always be wary of end claps in the music industry: Kiss already went to Hellfest in June 2019, bowing out at the time to the public of this French meeting dedicated to metal and its currents. , one of the largest in Europe (240,000 festival-goers expected this year). They are however back. But this time the tour End of the road (End of the road), which ends in December at their home in New York, seems to bear its name.

2They are only two members of the original formation

Of the original quartet of the mythical glam-metal group (one of the most melodic branches of the family) formed in 1973 in New York, only half remain: Paul Stanley, guitarist and singer, 71, and Gene Simmons, iconic and colossus bassist, 73 years old. Victim of a heat stroke on stage in Brazil in April, the latter had to play seated that evening, a sequence relayed on social networks. Since then, no incident.

These two did not hesitate to continue the adventure without the two other original members adored by the fans, Ace Frehley, solo guitarist, and Peter Criss, drummer, who left for the first time in the 1980s, then definitively at the beginning of the 2000s after a very lucrative reformation. Frehley and Criss have since been replaced by Thomy Thayer, 62, and Eric Singer, 65.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the American group Kiss discuss with a policeman in 1976 on a street in New York (United States).  (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/GETTY IMAGES)

3Make-up is Kiss’ stroke of genius

Its popularity, Kiss owes it largely to its sense of theatricality, with very advanced make-up combined with extravagant costumes. Simmons and Stanley have in fact mixed the macabre and grand-guignolesque staging of Alice Cooper and the concept of the New York Dolls, this precursor group of American punk whose musicians were dressed like drag queens. No androgynous temptation at Kiss but a cocktail inspired by fantastic B series, between leather, studs and pyrotechnics.

Each member of the group hides behind a different make-up and embodies a comic book superhero: Gene Simmons is “the demon”, Paul Stanley “the son of the stars”, Ace Frehley (and today Thommy Thayer) “the man space” and Peter Criss (and now Eric Singer) “the cat man”. But of all of them, it was Gene Simmons who became the face of Kiss, sticking out what is said to be the longest tongue on the rock circuit, spitting out fake blood or fire.

After the first departure in the early 1980s of Frehley and Criss, sucked in by drugs and alcohol, Kiss performed for several years without makeup. This low masks is clearly a bad idea: the makeups are reintroduced in 1996 with the original costumes, at the request of nostalgic fans.

4A stage group

Kiss’ reputation was built on stage. Particularly noisy, and of course made up, they deploy there from their beginnings a spectacular scenography and many special effects (fireworks, jets of flames, explosions, showers of confetti, giant dragon, medieval or science fiction decor), stealing the limelight from the bands they open for.

It is also with a live (Alive! in 1975), their fourth album, which came to record success, while their label was on the verge of bankruptcy. The success is overwhelming: two weeks after its release, it is a gold record in the United States. Kiss is then swept away in a whirlwind from which he will have a hard time recovering. Today, after fifty years of service, Kiss has lost none of its vitality, assure the witnesses: on stage, they have enough hits – like Rock and Roll All Nite, I Was Made For Lovin’ You, Lick It Up, Beth, Detroit Rock City, Love Gun Or Heaven’s On Fire – to last two hours at a hellish pace and at a dizzying sound volume.

5The kings of merchandising

As soon as the triumph came, the fans became a faithful “Kiss Army” and the merchandising developed on a large scale to satisfy the “kissmania”. Merchandise, such as a comic book published by Marvel whose red ink supposedly contains their blood (this will be Marvel’s best seller for ten years), figurines, pinball machines, make-up sets, and even condoms and coffins with their effigy, flow in industrial quantities. A more than juicy market: in 2006, the Kiss brand was valued at one billion dollars. Enough to ensure a nice mattress of dollars for their old age.

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