Sarnia Bayfest 2011
July 6, 2011
Review: Mike Forbes
Photos: Declan Goodall & Mike Forbes
After having seen Kiss about 8 or 9 times from umpteen angles, from Detroit to Toronto, from the farthest reaches of the Skydome to 3rd row at Bayfest, I can honestly say I still haven’t seen em enough. Any chance I get, I’ll go cuz I know every time, no matter where, when or what shape the guys are in, they’re gonna put on a first class show woven into a very familiar and kick ass soundtrack. Thanks to one of my oldest and dearest Kiss Army buddies on the planet, I found myself with an Unlicensed VIP ticket which puts you right in front of Gene for the night. Photographically, we tag teamed this show and got some real good gems for you all to enjoy.
Every time I saw them, I tried to take in the whole show. Every little thing going on at all times is pretty hard to do but on the opening night of Sarnia Bayfest 2011, I found myself 10 feet from Gene all night long and it was honestly very hard to pay attention to anything else. Gene worked that crowd like I’ve never really noticed before. I know he always works the crowd but he seemed over the top with fan interaction this night. Normally when I’d go to see Kiss, I’d watch Ace. As sloppy as he could be or as tight and precise, it didn’t matter, Ace was just Ace. No bullshit. He looked cool as fuck and he was an ultimate poser. But this night, I didn’t just see and hear Gene in action, I studied him.
I got to the venue as the first band left the stage. I made my way through the sparse crowd, quite gingerly I might add, as there was so much room in between imaginary rows of Kiss fans leading right up to the 3rd row. Not without pissing off a few people I might add. Why is it that people stand there with full empty rows in front of them and then get pissed when someone weasels in there and steps up to take it? If you’re in a crowd waiting for your favourite band and there are empty rows in front of you in a general admission area, fuckin step up and take it. Don’t bitch at ME cuz I did what you should have done a long time ago.
We did that at the SARS festival, headlined by Rush, AC/DC and the Stones. Me and a buddy walked on the edges of everyone’s blankets straight to the front. It got far too congested and we ended up parking our asses about 30 yards from the stage. We were sandwiched in between people who were waiting since the day before and when I told them I got there half hour ago they almost shit. Well there I was standing in front of a couple big pissed off guys and one real sasquatch of a motherfucker who had a look on his face like he hadn’t shit in a month pressing his elbow into my back for half the show. They told me they’d been there since 3 in the afternoon and I told em I got there 10 minutes ago. Sorry guys… I’m on a mission from God and NOBODY’S gonna fuck with it.
Was it just me or was Gene PLAYING his bass more than usual? I kept hearing killer fills and runs that I never noticed before. Normally while playing tunes like “Shock Me”, Gene throws in some cool little runs here and there but did I not hear far more than what he usually does? Was Gene actually challenging himself musically a bit there? Definitely not during the bass “solo” which I’ve always thought should showcase some kind of 4 string talent, but if I didn’t hear more that night, though I like to believe I did, it could have been blamed on the cookie.
Yes the cookie. Look to the cookie for a source of artificial joy. Look to the cookie for a guaranteed great night sleep. And look to the cookie to enhance any live concert experience. Yes friends, with the right amount of THC, the world’s colour pallet and mixing board unfolds to present sights n sounds one never knew existed. The cookie. Get em in ya before Stephen Harper (Canada’s Prime Minister and head Asshole) takes em away for good.
I completely missed the opening act but caught Inambush, a great little band from Brantford with a crunchy load of hard rock to dump on ya. Saw them at the 515 Concert Club in Cambridge a few months back and I was totally impressed with their skill and tightness. They had a buncha catchy hard rock tunes and were a pleasant surprise.
The Envy hit the stage and as the sun set, the ambiance rose proportionately so. The Iowan band had the crowd in the palm of their hands despite the giant Kiss logo looming in the background. Being one of Simmons’s pet projects, and a seemingly successful one at that, they seemed to have taken some cues from the demon in the arena of confidence and stage presence. They had some really cool tunes and I noticed the cookies tickling at my brain, enhancing the soundtrack just slightly enough to spread a smile across my face and keep my foot tapping and head nodding to the beat.
But who am I kidding? I was there to see Kiss, and more than that, to see the dark heart of what Kiss is all about beating right in my face throughout the whole show. Mr. Simmons, in all his demon-ness, laid it right out in front of me and whether he was actually playing for ME that night or not, remains a bit of a mystery but I’d swear on my kids lives, that Simmons spotted me n my camera during the opening song, “Modern Day Delilah”, and made a point to keep coming back and posing for me and every camera around me.
They ripped through a small serving of Kiss hors d’ouvres, “Cold Gin” and a kick as version of “Let Me Go Rock n Roll” before pulling out one of the big guns, “Firehouse” for Simmons’s fire breathing show stopper. Well fucked if I didn’t have 18 pairs of hands and at least a dozen heads in the way while I tried to capture what always proved to be the hardest shot of the night and failed miserably again. I’ve only ever caught that shot to my satisfaction once from centre ice at the Air Canada Centre back in 2000. The rest have all been NFG, heads n hands in the way and/or blurred beyond recognition. This night was no different.
So I spoke with a few buddies who were at the show and none of them seemed to think Paul was off his game at all. I sure did. Was it the cookies though? I dunno. He definitely wasn’t jumping around like usual, but that’s probably because of the hip replacement. Fuck that makes him sound old. You know if you’re talking heart attacks or hip replacement the dude’s gotta be old! He seemed heavily medicated or something though. Normally he’s yappin away like a cheerleader yet making perfect sense but there were a few times that night that he was beakin off and I couldn’t figure out what the fuck he was talking about… or to who. I also heard quite a few sour notes and I’m pretty damn sure Tommy wasn’t the one dishin em out. To the first timer, or the uninformed, Paulie was top notch and that’s all that really mattered. Like last Bayfest Kiss played, Stanley honed in the town’s name and must have said it 42 times in a sing songy way as if people just like to say Sarnia… only with a think New Yok accent, Sarnia sounds like SAAAWWWNEEAAAAAAAA…. SAAAAAWWWNEEEAAAAAAA… I expected him to pick up a few beer bottles, stick them on his fingers and start slowly clinking them together…. Sawneeeaaaa come out and play!!!
I received a text just before Kiss came on. “Get a good shot of Paul’s ass for me.” My buddy Faye was sitting up on the hill with her son all painted up like Gene. It was his first big concert. So I did. Hope nobody noticed me tracking Stanley’s ass for half a tune, but if they did I’d just tell em I’m gay and that would make most of em shut up n go away. That is one thing you can always count on though. No matter how on or off the ball Mr. Stanley is he’s still a great lookin chiselled dude at 60(ish)!!
Halfway through the show I noticed the moon rising up on stage left. I thought how cool it would be to get some great shots of Simmons spittin blood all over the front of the stage with the moon looming in the background. Well it didn’t happen for the blood shots but I did get some moon pics only it’s kinda hard to expose it all properly without going straight to PhotoShop to make it happen. Well that makes me wanna get creative now!!
One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen at a show and it made me think immediately of my little guy was this dude carrying his kid, 5 years old, on his shoulders right up front to see Gene up close n personal. Ty, a 5 year old kid at his first concert had the devil horns held high with Gene playing just for him had everyone around us watching with huge smiles on our faces. Gene was pointing right at him, stickin his tongue out at him and the little guy was rockin out and lovin it all the way. Shit like this is what puts Gene head n shoulders above a lotta guys out there. I’ve seen Ace totally shit on little kids when it came to getting an autograph but Gene, no fuckin way. He may fuck your mom, your wife and your sister but he aint gonna ever fuck your kid out of an autograph or an opportunity to make a new fan for life.
Despite the load of shit Kiss tried dumping on it’s Bayfest fans in the Sarnia Observer, claiming: “It's going to be just as much, if not more, this time", this was a pretty straight up, bare bones show as far as Kiss is concerned. There were no strings and floating stage high up in the middle for “God of Thunder”. There was no drum riser, with sparkling pinwheels n kitty cats at the end of “Black Diamond”. There was no dual scissor lift for the show’s end “Rock n Roll All Nite”. In fact there were no real mechanical devices that distract from what’s really going on and that’s the straight up 3 chord rock n roll that Kiss perfected back in the 70’s. Sarnia got a huge dose of it and from the reaction of the crowd, they loved every second of it…. again.
John Labatt Centre
September 29, 2009
Photos: Declan Goodall &
Review: Declan Goodall
So Kiss is coming back to your town after 35 long years away (give or take a year or two, or 1990) and now is your chance to ask Gene for a paternity test in person; that's nice! A home coming gift, Nick has a new brother? Shannon Tweed has a new whatever ..step Kiss child?.... Have fun with your new life, I hear Los Angeles is warm this time of year… I hope you’re right and that your Mom was not at the Led Zeppelin Concert instead that night! maybe that’s why your name is Jimmy!
But if you’re sure about who fathered you like the rest of us, then just start taking photos as Gene gets off the plane at the jet terminal and smarten up! ..... And so begins the adventure of "Kiss Returns to London Ontario, Canada 2009" Someone said: "If you build it (the new John Labatt Centre) they will come", and so they did .
They first played London at Centennial Hall on Wellington St. downtown, on Thursday July 25, 1974 with opening act Rush from Toronto. Then again on Dec 22, 1974 at the old London Arena Sunday with opening band Joe who later formed the rock group Tease. They played again in 1976 at the London Gardens with Vancouver's own Hammersmith and then again July 18, 1977 at the London Gardens with opening act Cheap Trick. Myself and a good buddy had two girls with us that night but buddy was not in the mood as he said his date was covered in dog hair. Who knew he was allergic to sheep dog hair?! Kiss also played the London Gardens on Oct 13, 1990, on the “Hot in the Shade Tour” with Slaughter and Winger.
So we got to the jet terminal before the band landed at 3:45pm. It was a windy over cast afternoon, and as each member of the group set foot on the runway, the red carpet girl had to chase the carpet down the runway each time and bring it back for the band to walk on! I will make sure she gets a couple of photos of her holding the carpet down for The Demon and Starchild.
Kiss had two shuttle bus limousines waiting for them Paul and Tommy in one bus, and Eric in the back seat with Gene who sat up front with the driver looking great as he always does. We tried to get him to sign as they drove out the gates, but the driver keep going, with Gene pointing at him like he had no say in it. I’m sure this is part of the act, but no big deal, we just drove ahead of them to the venue and waited for them to pull in beside the tractor trailers out back. When they arrived at the JLC venue, Paul got out of the first shuttle limo and head straight into the building. Gene got out of his limo bus and came straight over to the fans waiting to see them and signed for everyone, as did Eric and Tommy, this provided a great photo op to see the band up close in street clothes, and get the old Kiss albums signed.
As Gene was leaving the area, he did not see Eric's long handled suitcase and tripped over it backwards. This could have been disastrous had it not been for a big man behind Gene, who helped catch him and prevent a nasty spill and possibly a broken wrist to boot? ..... Gene is a big man up close 6' 3" 230lbs easy, and he was very thankful for the guy behind him, no doubt about it! He saved the day, lesson well leaned this could have been a disaster for the whole tour with Gene going down backwards over a suitcase he didn’t know was there.
After Kiss went inside the building, the opening band Buckcherry came out and signed as well, over and over, each time they walked back and forth to their buses they came over to pose for photos and sign again and again. Thank you very much guys, some bands should learn from you guys how to treat the fans waiting for an autograph or photo… especially the pretty girls who were waiting. Are you paying attention Kings of Leon? They signed for ah... nobody! They blocked the fans with their buses and deeked in and out after the show.
So this day had gotten off to a great start, but we were missing Paul Stanley to complete the day, maybe after the show? Gene comes out the front doors of the venue with no one recognizing him, and onto the Family Jewels Bus out front where the local radio station was broadcasting live. We did not know about this until the next day when they played back the interview.
Cell phone rings its my posse. Sighting of Stanley but he does not sign. This is not good, I have seen this before. Will we be shut out and have to travel to Toronto or further east to Oshawa to get the albums completed? I really hope not! Winter's coming and I got lots of chores to do on the farm next week.
While I was out front by the Family Jewels bus I met Bob J Reid, lead singer for the rock group Bobnoxious. They opened up for Kiss this summer at Sarnia Bayfest and were awesome! Bob was coming off the bus dropping off some new music for the radio station to check out, maybe a new album? The last one Superscar is my favourite with the killer tune "No Holiday In Disney", can't get enough of that song. The Ramones would have loved Bobnoxious. I have met Bob j Reid a couple of times before, so I asked him could he pose for a couple of photos by the bus right beside Genes face for the Rebel Reviewer.
Ok! Things are moving along, the afternoon light was fading to evening, still no rain even though it was expected. We met lots of new Kiss fans around the venue and took plenty of photos off them dressed up as the band Lots of pretty girls in full Kiss makeup… you know this is only gonna get better inside the building.
Enough rambling, we're in and that’s all that matters at this point. Lets take it one step at a time… straight up to the second floor restaurant for as much beer as we can drink, cause when Kiss comes on, the suds shut down. This is a really bad policy. It’s called the “John Labatt Centre”, as in John Labatt’s BEER, and you can't have a beer after the headlining act comes on?... Doh!
My friends from outta town were not happy about the prohibition on suds after the opening act comes on, and they vowed not to come back to the JLC. Yeah? Well who needs them anyway? We've only been friends forever. And they are not kidding. They come from Toronto, that big town of 100 million people that produces all the garbage buried everyday in my backyard in St. Thomas. That’s enough reason to end the friendship right there. They are used to the Rogers Centre and the ACC, entertaining their outta town friends all night long during their events...... and they’re right! It can put a damper on the event because you are gonna be dry for two and a half hours. Tonight we let it go because Kiss are in the building.
Ok you knew it had to happen sooner or later, and we knew they were going to Destroy the JLC 35 years later since the first time in 1974 at Centennial Hall.... Finally..... Welcome home Kiss!
The lights go down to the roar of the crowd, it was electric, the band appeared on a platform that Stanley will break his guitar on later when Gene and Ace go up in the air during Rock 'n Roll All Night. The platform was right in front of the drum kit and they come out blasting Deuce with the signature moves. Tommy Thayer doing his best Ace in his new costume that was part Destroyer and part Hotter than Hell, and it works with the knee high boots. It can now be said that Tommy has his own costume, one that Ace never wore, plus he also sings his own song on the new album "Sonic Boom”.
Tommy has paid his dues with his own bands "Movie Star" and "Black and Blue", as well as playing Ace Frehley in the clone band, "Cold Gin" He worked for Kiss as Gene's personal assistant which led to him first playing Ace in Kiss in 2002. He also had to show Ace how to play his own licks for the 1995 Reunion Tour, how’s that for talent or lack thereof on Ace’s part.
So now Kiss has a new album of songs that are not associated with Peter or Ace, and the band is over the hurdle of the past members and onto the next chapter of Kiss........... this line-up will probably continue well into the next decade, or until NASA blows up Mars by mistake from one of them there used satellites their crashing into it, and we're all outta here together! that's in the Bible somewhere I'm sure!
On and on keep marching on...the new stage is clean! really open, no visible monitors on the stage, they are in the floor of the stage? in front of the microphones, a new giant Kiss logo on the stage floor in front of the drum kit, a killer HD video screen behind and above the drum kit. Stanley looks great (as usual) with new tassels on his hotter than hell boots, I thought they looked killer, got get me a pair for Easter. Gene wearing the Love Gun boots, (yes!) moving like he was 20 years old, with 60lbs of armour on him, most guys half his age couldn't hold a candle to Gene in action.
Kiss then goes right into Strutter, all the songs were from the first three albums which cumulated into one of the best albums of the 70's... Alive! The album cover for that record is a classic photograph that really represented what the 70's was all about, everyone I knew had that record before they jumped ship when Kiss went disco, that and the Kiss dolls, and all the merchandizing. I can honestly say I never bought the dolls or even owned one, not even Ace's, but I did take a shot in the head from the High School Bully because I was guilty by association. Lesson well learned, time to start lifting the weights, saw him later in life, called him on it, he said he did it cause I was into Slade...Huh!
If you have seen Kiss before, you know the show by now, pyro, lots of it, fried me good… dry ice machine, levitating drum kit with your 70's trademark drum solo from Eric Singer (ex Lita Ford, ‘85 Black Sabbath, ESP, Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley solo tour, etc) who beat them skins like they owed him money and he was collecting a debt tonight. He owned the crowd. The 70's drum solo was Alive! and well tonight. Fire breathing by Gene, as well as blood spitting, flying up into the light truss, explosions, Stanley flying to his rotating satellite stage for all the girls to see him dancing up close. There were no glitches in this show at all, everything went off like planned, lots of things can go wrong but they didn't, which inspired the band to keep rockin way past the cut off time at the JLC which is 11 o'clock. Playing six encore songs and blowing the place up real good, so someone loses their deposit on the noise by law. You hired Kiss, what did you expect.... compliance? It’s the hottest band in the world... it's not Box Car Willie. Kiss your $1000 deposit bye-bye, I hear it goes to charity anyhow, could be wrong though.
So by this time in the wee hours we're all sweaty from being Destroyed. Kiss came back to London for one thing, to blow the place up, and they blew the place up real good. They meet at the front of the stage to say goodbye to the fans, the house lights come up a bit to show the boys even better for more photographs, and the building was on its feet to say goodbye to their boyhood heroes who are still rockin the world the same way they did when we were in high school in the 70's. With our bell bottom jeans, tie-dye t-shirts, and Tommy Chong had not gone to prison yet for having his face on a bong! .... ah the good days.
They left the stage but not the building. They stayed inside for about an hour, then walked out the back of the venue to the limo buses. The buses could have driven inside the building to them, but this show was their home coming and everything from our point of view was a perfect show. Paul came over and completed my friend Jimmy's albums, as well as a black white photo from 1976 taken at the London Gardens. They came out back to sign for the fans, most of them girls, who got to see Gene and Paul up close and got to have a picture taken with them.
By meeting them again, the band I chose to support in high school in 1974 are still rockin after most bands have broken up, and gone on reality TV rehab shows, put on the slippers and pipe, and play that one record they put out over and over for the in-laws at Christmas. Kiss was supposed to be have died along time ago after one album as well, but then it became two albums and then three, and then came Alive! No one was going to accept a group this bizarre, with this much make-up, more than Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls combined. But all the critics were wrong. Right from the start, Kiss made it out of the 70's and will continue to make and break all the music records, that’s what Gene and Paul do… they do it their way! Soon it will be the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, which we don't really need to hear from any way, it’s not about their stupid award, Kiss already has their award that is more important to them… the Kiss Army award. So you know where you can put your stupid award Mr. Hall of Fame.
At this point, 35 years later, it really doesn't matter. Their award holds no water. There are bands in there that don't belong, I would love to see Kiss say no thanks to the award. They have been snubbed way too long by the committee from the Hall of Shame.
Guess there’s only one thing left to say: “So Lets Rock n Roll All Night and Party Every Day"!
3. Got To Choose
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Nothin' To Lose
6. C'mon And Love Me
9. Watchin' You
10. 100,000 Years
11. Cold Gin
12. Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll
13. Black Diamond
14. Rock And Roll All Nite
15. Shout It Out Loud
16. Lick It Up
17. I Love It Loud
18. Modern Day Delilah
19. Love Gun
20. Detroit Rock City
July 10, 2009
Out of the 6 or 7 times I've seen Kiss, I thoroughly enjoyed this show the most by far. Sure they had all the fire, blood, bombs and other pyro, but the show just seemed a whole lot simpler for some reason. Maybe it was the pint sized stage that barely held their equipment, logo and video screens. Or maybe it's cuz there's only 2 guys in the band that they can really spotlight and show off anymore as the others are really just hired guns doing what they're told to do.
Yes I know the fine people at Bayfest went out and spent a gazillion dollars on a new stage, the biggest one they've had yet, and a fine stage it is, but for Kiss, it's a pretty small stage! That being said, the small stage is where ya wanna see the larger than life Kiss members anyway. Every time I saw Kiss, it was from a fair distance from the stage. Never had I had the chance to push my way up to 3rd row to take in my favourite childhood band and enjoy them so close up.
This night, Kiss pulled something out of the bag that I'd never seen them do before and I was SO happy to have been there to witness them play the Kiss Alive album from front to back, song for song.. everything except Firehouse. GASP... Everything except FIREHOUSE says any real Kiss fan that's seen them since the beginning of time... How could they possibly play a set without the show stopper, the big daddy, the fire breathing tune? I'll tell ya how. Hotter Than Hell. Gene switched things up and totally took me off guard by pulling out the flaming torch at the end of Hotter Than Hell, hence the blurry and unprepared fire breathing shot I feebly executed.
Another thing I'd never seen or heard Kiss do Live was play my favourite tune they ever laid down and that's SHE. Ever since WAY back, that's been my favourite tune especially from the Alive! album. For the day it was just so heavy and I've always had a penchant for my crunchy guitars. The good ole Les Paul pumped through a Marshall stack.. nothing beats it. THAT is rock n roll. Tommy Thayer laid down a wicked guitar solo closely resembling Ace's own from the Alive! album during She. I just can't say enough how awesome it was to have seen Kiss play 90% oldies for a show. And when I'm talking oldies I mean the first 3 studio albums only. I've never heard Kiss with makeup and Eric Singer on the drums. I know he's ten times the drummer Peter Criss ever wished he was and he proved it during the infamous 100,000 Years drum solo. Way more intricate than Peter's solos ever were. Plus Eric is straight. Or at least not messed right up. Peter could barely get to the stage some nights having to hold on to Gene just to stay on his feet.
Of all the shows I've seen at Bayfest, this one took the cake and ate it too. I'd have to say a close second was the Foo Fighters show back in 2003 and the Stone Temple Pilots show the night after the Kiss show, but I've seen a lotta bands sail through Bayfest. ZZ Top, Tragically Hip, Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Finger Eleven and Collective Soul to name a few, but none kicked the ass as thoroughly as Kiss did that night. They fuckin commanded that place like a 5 star general off to war.
Adding to the evening was the opening acts. I'd missed Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols, but I caught most of Bobnoxious' set. I still say Bobnoxious should have been given 4th slot behind Kiss instead of Gene's little pet band Dean Lickyer. As rockin as they were, they just didn't have anything original to keep me interested for more than a couple songs. The beautiful lesbian couple making out next to me were MUCH more entertaining so I spent Dean Lickyer's set trying to talk them into a Mikey sandwich. I asked them what the male equivalent of a Fag Hag is and I stumped them. I thought for sure there's gotta be a term for a guy who hangs out with lesbians but I had to coin one on the spot... and I did... I held out my hand and introduced myself as a Dyke Mike! Thank God they thought it was funny, but not funny enough to build the Mikey sandwich.
So Paul Stanley announced at one point that they are working on a new album that's gonna blow us away. Well I heard them say that about Psycho Circus and quite frankly that album blew large chunks. So here's to keeping the hope alive that Kiss has that one last amazing album in them. Something like the surprise that Revenge was. If it's not at least as good as Revenge, keep it in the vaults for someone else to deal with.
September 23, 2000
Pine Knob Music Theatre
September 12, 2000
Air Canada Centre
June 23, 2000
March 28, 1997
August 6, 1996
Chapters Book Signing
KISS Official Web Site
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