As Kiss’ Final Concert Approaches, What’s Next?
After nearly five years, 200-plus shows and millions of dollars in box office receipts, Kiss will wrap their End of the Road farewell tour with two back-to-back hometown shows at New York's Madison Square Garden on Dec. 1 and 2, 2023.
It's been a long, sometimes difficult road for the face-painted rockers, who launched their farewell trek in 2019 but were forced to postpone it in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons both contracted the virus in 2021, causing additional cancellations, and Stanley's nasty bout of the flu in November 2023 forced the band to scrap three dates as their final concerts loomed.
Nevertheless, Kiss triumphed over illness, brushed off accusations of lip syncing and only occasionally responded to jabs from ex-bandmates as they said goodbye the only way they know how: with a roaring, fiery rock 'n' roll spectacle the likes of which they helped pioneer.
As the End of the Road tour approaches its (alleged) actual end, what's next for the band?
The End of the Road Won't Be the End of Kiss
The members of Kiss may be planning to hang up their platform boots for good after their Madison Square Garden blowout, but that doesn't mean the band will cease to exist — at least not if Stanley or Simmons have anything to say about it.
"Kiss is like an army or a sports team," Stanley told UCR in 2022. "When the MVP is no longer playing or retired, the team doesn't call it quits. On a battlefield, an army, when they lose soldiers, doesn't wave the white flag. Somebody else picks up the weapon and runs forward. So in one form or another, I believe there will always be a Kiss."
Stanley's philosophy on this matter predates the End of the Road tour. "When a band or anything, a team, lasts 40 years, 50 years, the only way for it to continue is to evolve," he said in 2018. "There are bands touring at this point with one or no original members and I have no problem with that, because it didn't happen overnight. It was a series of changes over years or decades. If someone were to say, 'Well, there's no original members in one of the versions of Yes,' I'd say, 'Who cares?' It sounds like Yes and the pedigree is Yes, so is it Yes? Yes!"
It's not surprising that Stanley would feel this way — after all, he and Simmons have kept the Kiss name alive for half a century with a rotating cast of other musicians. "I think that Kiss is a concept, it's an ideal," Stanley said in the same interview. "It's a way of performing and giving to an audience, and that goes far beyond me. I'm a big fan of mine – I think I'm really good at what I do – but it doesn't mean there's not somebody else out there who can bring something to the band."
Could Kiss Tour With No Original Members?
Although Simmons and Stanley are essentially the faces of Kiss these days, they've made it clear in various interviews that they consider the band to be greater than the sum of its parts. In fact, Simmons admitted in 2022 that he could envision a future "Kiss" tour that features no original members.
"Kiss will continue in ways that even I haven't thought of," Simmons said. "But I can conceive of — you know, the Blue Man Group and Phantom of the Opera tour around the world with different personnel. There could and should be a Kiss show, kind of live on stage with effects and everything else, but also a semi-autobiographical thing about four knuckleheads off the streets of New York that ends with the last third as a full-blown celebration, a full-on performance."
The Demon was quick to add: "Not with us. Although not a problem stepping in every once in a while."
Stanley is also open to the idea of a next-generation Kiss lineup, though he said it's not currently at the top of the band's priority list. "I think anything is possible," he told UCR in October 2023. "It's certainly something that we've spoken about, but not anything more than that."
"Kiss Will Always Exist"
Kiss has never shied away from a good business opportunity, so one might naturally be skeptical of their claim that they're done touring for good. Still, the band has remained steadfast on the matter.
Some people — including those of us at UCR — have suggested that Kiss would be a perfect fit for Las Vegas' new, state-of-the-art MSG Sphere. But Stanley doesn't think it in the cards. "I can't speak to it in any other way except to be honest with you about how I feel now, and the way I feel today is ... I can't really see that happening," he told UCR. "As far as I'm concerned, we're done."
Done onstage, that is. Stanley and Simmons agree that Kiss will endure long after they ring out their final note at Madison Square Garden — even if they haven't specified in what capacity. "We couldn't stop Kiss if we wanted to, because it belongs to the people of the world," Stanley said. "So we can be the keepers and the curators. Kiss will always exist."
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff