ROCK2WGTN FESTIVAL DAY ONE – KISS, ALICE COOPER AND LORDI
Show Date: March 22, 2008
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Venue: Westpac Stadium
Festival Website: www.rock2wgtn.co.nz
Rock2Wgtn has been a long time coming and it’s a real treat to see a line up of this caliber in New Zealand.
Music was meant to start at 6:30pm, so my friend Shane and I got hot chips and coffee (very rock n roll I know). I decided not to drink too much – so I could actually remember it – so we had a few before we left, then went onto coffee because I didn’t want to miss a thing.
In between each of the main acts, support was provided by local New Zealand bands The Valves, Sonic Altar and Symphony of Screams. But let’s face it, most people aren’t that interested in support bands and their lack of impact wasn’t helped by them being stuck on little stages high up in the air, on the side of the main stage and without the benefit of using the main stage PA system. So they weren’t really seen or heard very well.
A highlight was Drusilla, the smoking Dragon, who also appeared between the main acts. Created by Oscar winning WETA Workshop, the dragon was about 6 meters high with a wingspan of 16 meters. This thing was very cool to watch, billowing out white and red smoke and lunging about, all the while shining bright green lasers out of its eyes all over the stadium.
The stage itself was flanked on either side by 100 foot guitars. The lighting show was good but nothing really overly inventive or exciting that you wouldn’t have seen before if you’ve ever been to a stadium concert. We were also privy to zombie cheerleaders and dancers playing with fire who again, were off to the side of the main stage and weren’t that visible. Drusilla stole the show as far as entertainment between drinks and bands went.
After sitting through some tediously drawn out guitar competition finally Finish band Lordi took to the stage. I wasn’t overly familiar with Lordi, apart from that I knew they won some song competition and looked pretty ridiculous costume wise. They looked pretty hilarious and we just kept thinking they must be soooo hot in these monster outfits. I didn’t have any expectations and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by these elaborate monster looking creatures. They were fun and entertaining to watch with some stunning pyros and effects. They put on a really cool stage show with great pyros and the music wasn’t as bad I was expecting. Mr. Lordi‘s battleaxe microphone that shot out fireworks and his wings were especially spectacular. I thought it would be thrashy but it was kinda melodic rock. And while they were more a visual affair and I won’t be rushing out to buy their CDs tomorrow, the music wasn’t half bad either, not terribly memorable – but not bad at all.
Next up was Alice Cooper and he totally blew us away. I had never seen The Coop live before but had heard rave reviews so I expected it to be good and it was. This man truly puts on a theatrical horror show masterpiece which is like watching a story unfolding on stage. From killing babies to hanging himself, it is pure genius.
The entertainment of his stage show doesn’t detract from the music either. Alice blazed through his hits ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’, ‘School’s Out’ and a stunning ‘Only Women Bleed’. Some drunk guy I didn’t know grabbed me and spun me all over the place in a waltz-like thing when Alice did ‘Only Women Bleed’. I think he was about 12 – well you know what I mean – he may as well have been 12.
Alice Cooper was nothing short of spectacular to watch and he and his band sounded stunning as well. He is a true professional who knows how to put on an impressive show. We’re not worthy indeed.
By the look of the huge contingent of people with Kiss-face paint, headliners Kiss was the band the majority of people were there to see. I last saw Kiss in the early 80s and thought they were mind-blowing. From memory, the stage show I witnessed in 2008 was pretty much the same as what I saw in the 80s, whilst in the 80s I thought it was amazing and extremely cool now I thought it was extremely un-amazing and dated. Even Gene Simmons‘ ‘God of Thunder’ spitting blood trick seemed so predictable and old.
Sure, it’s fun and even comical for a while but it got boring pretty quick. I’m sure millions will disagree, but this stage show is dull and overrated today.
Obviously Kiss performed the favorites to keep the hard core fans happy, but while the music was loud enough, their voices weren’t. They sounded weak and lacking in power. They really were pretty boring and the sound wasn’t so good. I mean musically it was, because the PA system was pretty awesome, but their voices just had no ommpfffff.
The fake-Ace (Tommy Thayer) sang Frehley‘s ‘Shock Me’ and was terrible. And I’m not saying that just because Ace was always my favorite Kiss member, the guy just couldn’t pull it off – criminal!
Kiss need to do something new and fresh. We actually got bored and left three songs short of them finishing. They are just missing soul and the fake Ace Frehley and Peter Criss didn’t help. I didn’t think it would bother me like it does some hard core Kiss fans, but I found it almost offensive. I mean, if they are going to have new members don’t put them in Ace‘s makeup and pretend it’s Ace. Frankly, Alice Cooper blew them off the stage.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t terrible by any means, and plenty of people seemed to be more than satisfied, but I was left feeling a bit deflated after all the hype surrounding Kiss. There was something lackluster about this Kiss performance, as if something was missing. Ho-hum maybe it’s Ace.
Gene Simmons did all the publicity here (naturally) and I can’t help but like the guy. He knows he’s turned Kiss into a business and he doesn’t give a damn – he’s laughing all the way to the bank. Here’s a joke he told in a phone interview:
“You ready?” he asks from his home in Beverly Hills. “Okay. God is sitting on his throne, and there’s a knock on the door. He says…Who is it?’ The door opens and there’s Gandhi. God asks him what he believes in. Gandhi says…World peace.’ God says…OK, fine, c’mon over here and sit on my left hand side.’
“There’s another knock at the door. This time it’s Mother Teresa. God asks her what she believes in and she says…Feeding the poor.’ God says…OK, fine, whatever, come over here and sit on my right hand side.’ There’s a third knock on the door. Again, God asks who it is and what they believe, to which I reply…I’m Gene Simmons, and I believe you’re sitting in my goddam chair’!”.
Click here to read about Day Two, with Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and Poison