It Saturday 8/10/19 and I’m getting prepared to photograph” KISS” tonight at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, NC. I’m up early, to excited to sleep in. I grew up on KISS. I remember my mom buying me my first “KISS” album “Love Gun” back in 1977, even though my parents didn’t care for them. Now it’s time to head out; making sure I have everything. Once I arrive and get parked, I head out to see what’s going on. I see fans tailgating, painting up their faces and putting on costumes. As I’m walking around outside waiting for the gates to open, I hear someone talking through a megaphone, preaching to the “KISS” fans that were entering the amphitheater. I felt like I was in a scene, straight from the movie “Detroit Rock City”. The lines were long, and people were anxious to get in. It was a bit hot, temperatures 90+ but no one cared. The “KISS Army” was out in force.
It’s time to go. As I proceeded to the sound board for my first song to shoot. The stage is covered with a black curtain that says “KISS”. Anxiously awaiting the curtain to drop. My heart is racing, anticipation is building. The big screen is showing the band headed to the stage. Then You hear “You Wanted The Best You Got the Best, The Hottest Band In The World KISS”. The curtain fell, then all I could see is balls of flames, smoke and then “KISS, slowly ascending from the ceiling playing “Detroit Rock City”. Each of them on their own platform. The pyro’s, smoke and water fall of sparks are off the chart, everyone’s on their feet cheering and screaming. In the middle of the song “Paul Stanley” screams out “Hey Charlotte”. What a way to kick off tonight’s performance. Now it’s time for my 2nd song. As the first song ended, I frantically make my way to the front of the stage where I get the opportunity to take pictures from the pit. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, a concert photographer’s dream to be able to shoot “KISS” up close. With a steady hand and a firm grip on my camera I proceeded to take my shots. As I’m shooting, I observed “Paul Stanley” looking at me and pointing. I just stay focused and do what I do, but in the back of my mind I’m overwhelmed with excitement. As I make my way through the pit shooting everyone in the band alternating between the band members. Time is of the essence. Making sure I have a good shot of all of them. As I finish my work obligation it’s time to head to my seat and enjoy the show.
As the night moves forward, playing songs like “I Love It Loud”,” Heaven’s on Fire” and “War Machine”. You hear the sirens; smoke is everywhere, the lights are red to set the mood, then “Gene”, holding the torch getting ready to do his fire breathing stunt. “Gene” spits into the torch which produces a giant ball of fire; following that up with their 1983 hit “Lick It Up”. Now it’s time for some “Cold Gin” which “Tommy Thayer “plays the rocket guitar solo. As “Tommy” nears the end of the song he aims the guitar neck to the floating UFO’s which are position all around the stage, shooting them down with sparks flying from the end of the guitar neck. Everyone in the amphitheater is cheering. It’s time to move on to “Genes “bass solo, playing “God of Thunder”. This is one of my favorite parts of the show. As the lights dim down all you hear is the bass, you see the glow of green lights and the foggy haze, through all that, you could hear the rumbling of “Genes “bass. There he is standing on a platform in all his glory. All lights on “Gene” as he’s building up to this performance. He’s spitting blood. Once he’s done, he spits it all out, and then grabs a white towel and wipes the dripping blood on it; throwing it out into the crowd. The platform starts rising in the air and the lights change to red, all the little floating screens have” Genes” face on them. This was an incredible performance. “Gene Simmons” is a monster. He stalks, flicks his tongue and darts his eyes. He breathes fire and drips blood. He licks the neck of his guitar with his tongue. He is the reason I love rock – n – roll. As the band moves on playing songs like “Psycho Circus” which was released in 1998, and “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll “which was released back in 1974. They are covering a lot of their material. Trying to satisfy everyone’s taste. Off to “Paul”, as he wasted no time flying through the crowd to the middle of the amphitheater to play “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”. “Paul” wanted to be up close to the fans even the once in the lawn area. Everyone deserves to have a great encounter with the band. As the night starts winding down the band started their encore. The stage goes dark, then “Eric” appears playing their top 10 hit “Beth”. Everyone has their cell phones in the air lighting up the stage singing word for word. This song is one of my all-time favorites. “Rock and Roll All Nite” kicked off the canons of confetti and the giant size balloons with the “Kiss” logos on them. What an experience. There was so much confetti it looks like snow falling. “Paul” thanked the “Kiss Army”. The show was off the chart. All the pyro’s throughout the night. The lighting was perfect. “KISS” gave their fans everything they wanted plus more. What and incredible show. Please take your family/kids to a show near you while you can. This is an experience they will never forget. I know I won’t. You will never get to see them live again. “It’s the End Of The Road”.
Review By: Hannah Lee