Gene Simmons and his bandmates in KISS don’t really seem to know what ‘farewell tour’ means. They attempted their first one way back in 2002 but were back on the road again within two years. Another abortive attempt at saying goodbye happened a few short years later. Now the band is at it again with their ‘End of the Road’ tour. With the band now averaging seventy years old, it seems more likely that the rock band means it this time than at any point in the past – but that still doesn’t mean they’ll be saying goodbye any time soon.
Officially, the tour began on January 31st this year in Canada, with dates announced that ran into 2020. Nobody within the band at the time could confirm that the final date listed at the time the schedule was published would actually be the final night they would play together, and so speculation began to grow. Most fans imagined that once the tour was all said and done, KISS would play one final stadium super-show to say goodbye in style. They still might, but that doesn’t seem to be the reason they were holding back on confirming an end date.
As of this week, we now have a little more clarity on the situation. The tour doesn’t have an official end date because the band simply doesn’t know when it’s going to end. They’re still enjoying it, they all want to carry on doing it for as long as possible, and Simmons himself says that he expects the tour to continue throughout 2021. That begs the question of whether if a so-called ‘farewell tour’ starts in 2019 and doesn’t finish by the end of the year, is it a farewell tour at all? It’s not inconceivable that by the time the band reaches 2021, they’ll return to some of the same venues they played at the start of the tour, making a mockery of the curtain call they took on the previous visit. Given the band’s past form for saying goodbye and then coming back, it may even be the case that they reach the end of 2021 and decide that 2022 looks good, too.
The only factor that may count against them in all of this is time. Simmons is exactly 70 years old now and will be 72 by this point in 2021. He’s spoken in the past of wanting to leave the stage with the audience still wanting more, but he’s not leaving himself with much time to do that if he doesn’t plan to retire until 72. Under the rock and roll persona and the makeup, he’s still a human being and a senior citizen at that. There’s a limit on the amount of time anyone can spend on a tour schedule. Musicians less than half the age of KISS struggle with long tours. Perhaps that comparison is unfair, though; KISS aren’t like most musicians.
With their famous visual branding and their theatrics, KISS aren’t just a band; they’re a brand. They’ve appeared as cartoon characters in ‘Scooby-Doo.’ A professional wrestler called ‘The KISS Demon’ wearing the band’s full stage makeup appeared in WCW in the late 1990s. You’ll find an official ‘KISS’ mobile slots game on a website like Rose Slots. They aren’t the only band to step into the casinos – their good friend Alice Cooper has his own official mobile slots game, as do Guns n’ Roses and Megadeth – but all of this adds up to the fact that just being in KISS is like hitting a mobile slots jackpot every day. It’s a license to print money. In terms of branding, they might just be the most successful brand in the world, and that’s almost certainly a difficult thing to let go of.
There are those who have managed to let go of it in the past, though. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are the only original members of the band who remain standing. Eric Singer, on the drums, has been with them since 1991. Tommy Thayer is a much more recent addition, having joined the band for the first time in 2002. Invites have been sent to Peter Criss and Ace Frehley – both of whom are original KISS members – to come and perform with them briefly on the tour as a way of saying goodbye to the fans. It’s understood that neither of them has taken KISS upon the offer. Frehley, in particular, has had unkind words to say about Simmons in the press in recent years, although he’s believed to maintain a friendly relationship with Stanley. It would be a shame if KISS were to bow out without the original lineup standing together one final time, but as fans, we can’t have everything.
The band is currently taking October as a rest month, after completing a lengthy leg of the tour throughout the United States of America and Canada during August and September. That alone makes the idea of this being a farewell tour questionable – the tour began in Canada before moving to North America, heading out across Europe during the summer, and then returning to Canada and North America for a second visit. They’ll pick up again in November, starting in Australia and New Zealand before moving into Japan during December, and heading back to the USA for a third time in March next year. In theory, the final date in their calendar is the Download Festival in the United Kingdom on June 20th next year, but we now know that won’t be their final date at all. Presumably, the band will announce the next leg of the tour early next year.
This is the part where we’d normally urge you to get tickets if you want to see the band because you might never get the chance to see them again, but this is KISS we’re talking about. If they don’t get the chance to say goodbye to you this time, they’ll probably see you in a year! If you’re a fan, though, perhaps it’s a good idea to invest in a ticket for one of the existing concerts just in case. One of these days, they really will say goodbye and mean it.