KISS coming to Brno

Rock band known for makeup and pyrotechnics skipping Prague

Veteran rock band KISS be bypassing Prague on their 2017 European tour and instead be heading to the BVV exhibition grounds in Brno, South Moravia, on May 20. The band will be touring the US until the middle of April, then will start in Europe on May 1 in Moscow, working through northern Europe and Germany before heading to the Czech Republic. The month-long trip will end May 31 in London.

The lineup will be the same as it has been since 2004. Original members Paul Stanley in his Starchild makeup on rhythm guitar and vocals will appear with Gene Simmons in his Demon makeup on bass and vocals. They have a been a constant presence in the band since it began in 1973. They are joined on stage by Tommy Thayer as the Spaceman on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Eric Singer as the Catman on drums, percussion and backing vocals.

KISS has no new material since Monster in 2012, and Gene Simmons has told music magazines that the band intends to concentrate on the big hits and crowd-pleasing numbers, rather than dig up obscure material that bulk of the audience doesn't know.

This still gives KISS the opportunity to mix the setlist up a bit for the last time they were in the Czech Republic in June 2015 on the 40th Anniversary Tour. The band has 60 singles and 20 studio albums to their credit, not counting the series of four solo albums released in 1978.

“Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City” are the two songs the band has played live the most, around 2,000 times each. “I Was Made for Lovin' You,” perhaps their most recognized song, doesn't even make the top 20, coming in at 21 in terms of live performances with a little over 720 renditions.

KISS also helped to turn rock concert into big production shows, something that has been copied by many bands. Their makeup was inspired by Japanese kabuki theater, and meant to make them more visible onstage, as back in the 1970s large video screens did not exist yet. Over the years the band has added several items that figure into most of its shows, such as long guitar and bass solos, Simmons spitting stage blood and extending his long tongue, smoke and fire shooting from guitar necks, band members levitating on wires, and drums rising on a platform. The shows are also filled with pyrotechnic effects with flame cannons and other fireworks.

The band also pioneered making their fan clubs much more a visible part of what the band does. Since the mid 1970s, fans have been able to join the KISS Army, and get special greetings from the band and exclusive merchandise. The band has been seen in comic books, action figures, cups, shower curtains, key chains and all manner of merchandise for every budget — another area where the band tried to outdo its rivals.

KISS was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, but just the original lineup, with former guitarist Ace Frehley and former drummer Peter Criss. The lineup did not perform at the ceremony, and has not performed together since the 2002 Winter Olympics.

It is not clear how much longer KISS will perform. They had intended to retire after the 2000–01 Farewell Tour, but instead the tour brought new life to the band, and in 2003 they embarked on a World Domination Tour, followed by several others. Simmons and Stanley are both in their 60s, and the show they put on is rather demanding physically. There are no current hints that this is a final tour, but no guarantees the band will be back to the Czech Republic either.

KISS has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. The band's highest charting album in the US wasn't until after their comeback. Sonic Boom from 2009 reached number two. The highest charting single was “Beth” and “Detroit Rock City” in 1976, which hit number seven. It was from the album Destroyer. Despite the band's long tenure as one of the hardest rocking acts, they have not had a number one album or single in the US overall charts, though they did have a number one single on the US Rock chart and two number ones on the Canadian charts.

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