Kiss members Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley performing Thursday at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor. Photo by Milena Calcagni

BANGOR – It’s been more than 40 years since American rock legends Kiss played Bangor, and the estimated 10,000 fans who gathered in the rain Thursday at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion will be the last to see them there.

Kiss’s End of the Road tour kicked off in January 2019 and was scheduled to end early last month. After the pandemic postponed the final leg of performances until Wednesday (when they returned to the stage in Mansfield, Massachusetts), the remainder of the tour was extended through 2022 to accommodate their original stops, as well as a Las Vegas residency.

The performances are billed as part of Kiss’s “final tour ever,” and the band is literally going out with a bang. After breaking two Guinness World Records for pyrotechnics in Dubai in December, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees continued their commitment to excellence in stagecraft with a glam rock spectacular, complete with flames, sparklers and fireworks.

While at times the flames and smoke machines created a thick fog that obstructed the audience’s view of the stage, the spectacle was certainly entertaining. The show opened with “Detroit Rock City,” with each of the band members lowered to the stage by hydraulic platforms, decked out in their signature silver- and crystal-studded garb and iconic face paint.

About halfway through the show, lead singer Paul Stanley ziplined to a platform in the heart of the audience for performances of “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.” The setup was electrifying, making the pavilion feel like a major rock arena.

The band members showed no signs of aging, which can only be partially attributed to their makeup; their performance rivaled their studio recordings. The voices of Paul Stanley and drummer Eric Singer, who are 69 and 63 respectively, are as rich as ever – weathered, but far from worn out.

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Gene Simmons shows off his famous tongue in Bangor on a stop of Kiss’s End of the Road tour. Photo by Milena Calcagni

Their vocals were accompanied by the fiery licks of lead guitarist Tommy Thayer (who replaced Ace Frehley in 2002), with Gene Simmons sharing licks of his own, both on bass and with his iconic tongue, much to the delight of fans. Although Stanley and Simmons are the only two remaining members of their original lineup, there was plenty of chemistry among the seasoned veterans, Singer and Thayer.

With a career that has lasted through and adapted to different phases in rock music, their anthology is diverse, but holds true to their shock-rock roots. The performance and setlist were a full tribute to their career, focusing on beloved hits and double-platinum ballads from their earlier years, including “Beth” and “Rock and Roll All Nite,” while highlighting a couple of tunes from their later albums, like “Sonic Boom” (2009).

When a band of Kiss’ magnitude steps away from the spotlight, it’s always melancholy. But the crowd of fans, young and old, is evidence that, although they may never take the stage again, Kiss will live on.

Milena Calcagni is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in southern Maine.


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