Legendary rock band KISS captivated a sold-out crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden Saturday night, delivering an explosive, emotional final live performance before transitioning to virtual "avatars" that will carry on the band’s legacy.
KISS Delivers Electrifying Final Show after 50-Year Career
In their trademark flashy style, KISS took the stage in full costume and makeup Saturday, opening the show with their hit "Detroit Rock City." The band thrilled fans during the multi-hour concert event, with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons joined by longtime members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. Highlights from the decades-spanning setlist included "Shout It Out Loud," "Love Gun," "I Was Made for Lovin’ You," and of course, "Rock and Roll All Nite" to close out the epic show.
KISS Madison Square Garden Final Concert Setlist
|Detroit Rock City
|Shout It Out Loud
|Creatures of the Night
|Heaven’s on Fire
|I Was Made for Lovin’ You
|Lick It Up
|Lick It Up
|Calling Dr. Love
|Rock and Roll Over
|God of Thunder
|Hotter Than Hell
|Do You Love Me
|Rock and Roll All Nite
|Dressed to Kill
KISS delivered over two hours of non-stop rock entertainment, showcasing their iconic look and sound one last time for fans. Their final live performance capped off the "End of the Road World Tour," an extensive multi-year global farewell trek celebrating the band’s 50-year career.
KISS Ushers in "New Era" with Digital Avatars
While Saturday marked the end of KISS as a traditional live act, the band made a surprise announcement ushering in a "new era" – with virtual "avatars" allowing KISS to continue performing. Using advanced digital animation, KISS has been transformed into superhero-esque computer-generated characters. Fans got a first look when the digital avatars were revealed during the MSG concert on massive video cubes.
"It’s time to recruit the next generation of KISS Army soldiers," said Paul Stanley’s avatar, while Gene Simmons’ proclaimed, "We are eternals all! We are everywhere and everywhen."
The band later explained that the lifelike avatars will enable KISS to keep touring and continue their legacy. "It’s a mind-blowing concept," said Simmons. While not giving specific details yet, the band suggested the avatar technology could facilitate innovative concert experiences like metaverse shows.
Passing the Torch While "Forever" Remaining KISS
As they enter the avatar phase that will digitally immortalize them, the flesh-and-blood members of KISS are passing the torch. Longtime lead guitarist Tommy Thayer reflected that "KISS moving forward into the future with the avatars allows the band to perform forever…and continue the legacy in a new way."
And frontman Paul Stanley mused, "we change, we evolve, we grow…but the heart and soul and essence of what we do stays the same." Ultimately, Stanley emphasized KISS is "not about any member or former member" but "something bigger than any individual." In that spirit, the band aims to evolve yet carry forward the iconic KISS spectacle – now with virtual avatars.
Looking Back at Five Decades of KISS
Before fully transforming into cyber-enhanced rock avatars, core original members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons delighted fans by delivering a final old-school KISS extravaganza harking back to the group’s early days.
KISS was formed in 1973 in New York City, rising from the glam and punk scenes with a bold, makeup-clad image. Their 1974 self-titled debut album introduced the band’s explosive hard rock sound. Anthems like "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "Detroit Rock City" became generation-defining arena rock staples, as did the band’s over-the-top live concerts featuring pyrotechnics and Simmons’ fire-breathing.
With headline-grabbing appearances and hit albums like ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Love Gun,’ KISS earned recognition as 1970s rock icons. They solidified their influence with crossover pop hits "Beth" and "I Was Made For Lovin’ You," while the 1978 TV movie ‘KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park’ cemented their fame.
By the 80s, KISS faced early member departures and waning popularity, but carried on evolving their sound and image. The band bounced back commercially with late 80s/early 90s hits like "Forever" and found renewed relevance for younger fans. Their longevity was honored in 2014 when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
After nearly 50 years, KISS’s cultural footprint and fanbase remains massive – reflected in sold-out crowds during their "End of the Road Tour," grossing over $250 million. As that live chapter closes, their new avatar era aims to grow the KISS Army for posterity.
The Kiss Goodbye…For Now
As Saturday’s final concert wound to a close, KISS soaked up thundering cheers from generations of fans during their last bows. "Thank you for supporting us on this wild, wild journey," Paul Stanley told the audience.
An emotional Gene Simmons added, "you are the reason we get to do this every single night…Thank you for giving us the life that we could have never dreamed of."
The four current members then took center stage, linking arms to acknowledge the fans. Original guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss – who started KISS with Simmons and Stanley in 1973 – also briefly joined their former bandmates, marking a symbolic passing of the torch.
And so curtains closed on KISS as a traditional live act after decades defining spectacle rock. But if their digital future matches their history – expect the hottest band in the land to keep rocking for years to come.
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