At the weekend, Kiss completed their End of the Road farewell world tour and brought the curtain down on an epic 50-plus-year career during their last-ever show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Though they were without fellow founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons took to the stage to perform a 23-song setlist that ended with a show-stopping performance of 1975 classic, Rock and Roll All Nite.
But, as many had expected (given the fact this wasn’t Kiss’ first farewell rodeo) the show wasn’t technically the end of Kiss – and those who attended the Garden on Saturday (December 2) were the first to be made privy to the band’s future plans for, erm, digital immortalization.
Before they reached that point, though, Stanley and Simmons – along with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer – made their way through hit after hit, treating attendees to Detroit Rock City, Deuce, War Machine, and Heaven’s on Fire early on.
Tommy Thayer was also given the floor to let loose on a guitar solo in between Cold Gin and Lick It Up – and, thanks to some eager fans keen on documenting the historic performance, footage of the entire show has made its way online.
Of course, the show was also punctuated with pyrotechnics, exemplary displays of showmanship and borderline acrobatics, with Simmons breathing fire during I Love it Loud and Stanley zip-lining across stages to perform Love Gun and I Was Made for Lovin’ You.
When the End of the Road farewell finale was reaching its conclusion, though, fans were informed that, while the physical instrumentalists would be retiring from their Kiss duties once and for all, the band itself would live on through other means.
Specifically, it was announced in a digital film that “Kiss have been immortalized – reborn as avatars – to rock forever”. The footage also revealed that “the new Kiss era starts now”, and (to really hammer the point home) a voice over told the fans, “Your love, your power, has made us immortal.”
As has now been revealed, Kiss will indeed live on forever thanks to state-of-the-art avatar technology – the same technology that was first developed for ABBA’s groundbreaking Voyage show, which saw each member of the Swedish pop group get reborn as a digital avatar.
For this project, the Kiss members were captured and recreated while the band performed in motion capture suits earlier in the year.
In essence, it means ‘Kiss’ (or, at least, digital projections of Kiss) can continue to 'perform' indefinitely following Stanley and Simmons’ retirement. Indeed, as Stanley said in a later video detailing the plans, “The band will never stop, because the fans own the band. The band deserves to live on, because the band is bigger than we are.”
Those at the Garden also got a sneak preview of the avatars in action, with four superhero-styled recreations of the band taking to the, erm, screens, to perform some of God Gave Rock and Roll to You II.
The exact future of the Kiss avatars is unclear, though. As Per Sundin, CEO of the Swedish conglomerate who financed the project (via BBC), “We're going to figure it out after the tour. Is it a Kiss concert in the future? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure?”
To keep up to date with whatever the project becomes, head over to Kiss’ official website, and to look back at the band's guitar highlights, check out our retrospective, where Eric Johnson, Nuno Bettencourt, and 40 other guitar legends share their favorite Kiss guitar moments.