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Gene Simmons @ Festival Hall

Posted Aug. 31, 2018, 9:50 p.m. by T

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Gene Simmons

Festival Hall

Melbourne, Australia

August 30, 2018

Gene Simmons.

Ace Frehley.

Spearheads of KISS.

Outworn labels like “legendary” are not inappropriate in this context as it would prove to be difficult to find anyone who grew up in the 1970s/80s that has not at least been partly impacted by KISS and what its individual constituents introduced to the world of music and popular culture at large.

2018 sees the bigger-than-life persona Gene Simmons reconciling with his former bandmate Ace Frehley taking stages down under to not only celebrate their crowd-pleasers but also gems of their more obscure solo back catalogue, and gems there is no shortage of. A Gene Simmons shows is first and foremost a grandiose exercise in refined, old school entertainment. The man holds court and his engaging banter and crowd interaction do no mask but adorn his accomplish musicianship. It is quite an experience to see how effortlessly Gene rocks through his ever changing set lists including songs he performed the first time around in a live setting, which are well calibrated with ebbs and flows to keep the audience on its toes.

KISS is all about effects and the stage show and tonight was focused on the music, which showcased both Ace Frehley’s, who opened the show, and Gene Simmons song-writing and performance skills. Backed by a band that works like a well-oiled machine and has a pedigree in bands like Slash, Alice Cooper, Vince Neil, et cetera, the show ticked boxes on many levels and it would be hard to argue that it is a mere nostalgia act as timeless hits met contemporary sound.

Ever the consummate silver-tongued businessman, the tour coincided with Gene’s “The Vault” release, another elaborate addition to the growing empire of Gene Simmons’ and Kiss related mementos, including one-hundred and fifty songs, action figure, commemorative coin, personal gift, liner notes – the works – which he hand-delivered to his fans, who also received a double pass to one of his shows and of which there were quite a few present tonight.

An evening that was loose, borderline casual, had Gene and his worthy constituents enjoying themselves, dominating the room yet being accessible, inviting fans on stage various times throughout the set to celebrate their hits with them.

It was interesting that despite the lack of pyrotechnics, costumes, fire, blood or make-up, essential ingredients for the winning KISS formula, the KISS Army left satisfied and did not miss it one iota, which is testament to the showmanship and charisma of one of the few remaining greats of the pantheon of rock and roll.

Stripped of all theatrics and bombast, Gene Simmons showed himself in a playful and humorous light, which added another dimension to his persona and the musical substance of his oeuvre.

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