I was too young to go see KISS in concert when they still had the original lineup and wore makeup. And though I would eventually get to see the original lineup with makeup when they got together for a reunion tour, it just wasn’t the same. Makeup or not, the chance to see the band that ruled my childhood was still a dream come true, and in 1984, Animalize was one of my favorite albums.
My high school friends shared in the excitement of finally getting to see KISS in concert, though we were a bit puzzled by one classmate who was going to the concert just to see Queensryche. At that point, my other friends and I had yet to truly discover Queensryche, as The Warning had only been out for a few months. I was looking forward to hearing “Take Hold Of The Flame,” but that night was all about experiencing KISS live for the first time. Much to my surprise, Queensryche’s performance actually set the bar higher than expected for KISS. I didn’t know it at the time, but Queensryche would eventually become one of my all-time favorite bands, and I would see them many times throughout the course of their nearly 30-year career.
Queensryche was a great opening act for KISS, but the real excitement came when the lights went down and the familiar introduction blared throughout the arena – “You wanted the best, and you got the best…the hottest band in the world…KISS!” Chills ran down my spine in eager anticipation. If the KISS fan in front of me had the chills, I’m sure that they quickly went away as he felt the blazing heat of the flame above his head. Mind you, we were sitting at the opposite end of the arena, so this had nothing to do with pyrotechnics, at least not the ones that are synonymous with a KISS concert.
In our infinite wisdom, my friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to bring a can of aerosol hairspray and a cigarette lighter with us to the concert to create a blowtorch. We figured if Gene Simmons can spit fire on stage, we could certainly do our part to contribute to the experience. Of course, I had absolutely no experience with McGyver-like blowtorches, so things didn’t go exactly as planned.
As I sprayed the hairspray at the lit cigarette lighter, a long flame nearly grazed the head of the person in front of me. The thought to shoot the flame in the air never occurred to me. A sincere apology was all that I had to offer since there was no excuse for what I had just done. Thankfully, the guy in front of me was none the worse for wear, and was more interested in seeing the concert than taking me to task for my ill-advised attempt at makeshift pyrotechnics.
The concert is one that I will never forget, and not just for my gaffe or the fact that it was my first time seeing KISS live. Many years, and many concerts later, KISS in 1984 is still one of the best shows that I’ve ever seen, and I’d be hard-pressed to come up with many opening acts that could hold a candle to Queensryche. Their entire set kicked ass, including “Take Hold Of The Flame,” which took on an entirely new meaning thanks to a can of hairspray and a cigarette lighter.
Since 1984, I’ve seen Queensryche more than any other band in concert. Like most Queensryche fans, I was very disheartened to learn about their breakup, but after a lengthy conversation with Geoff Tate, I have a better understanding of the dynamic of the band than I ever did before.
In the three-part interview that will be featured on Hard Rock Daddy beginning on Monday, Tate discusses the band breakup, the pending lawsuit, his relationship with Chris DeGarmo, Frequency Unknown and his future music plans.