Sunday, October 1, 2017

Gene Simmons Band Live in Edmonton Sept.23rd 2017

So to top off last weekend I went to the Gene Simmons Band show at the Expo Centre here in Edmonton. This is a night that won't be forgotten for so many reasons. When this show was announced I was surprised and excited to see that Gene was going to be doing a rare solo show in Edmonton of all places. For those that don't know, and I mean c'mon, who doesn't know that Gene Simmons is the bass player and founding member of the iconic rock group KISS. If I had to tell you this, you probably shouldn't even be reading this, but yes Gene was doing a show here as part of the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Convention. This was the only Canadian date for the Gene Simmons Band. I wasn't sure what to expect, but if anything you knew it would be interesting.

The night before the show I got an email informing me that I had won a pair of tickets to the show. Well, that was cool, I already had a single ticket for myself, but now I was going to be able to take a few friends to the show. And hey, it's always nice to have fellow KISS fans to hang with. So I invited my Cuz and buddy RCD, whom is also a huge KISS freak.

My Cuz and I met RCD at the venue, when we got there RCD had found a gig poster for the show. Now RCD is a huge music memorabilia collector myself but offered me the poster which was a very nice gesture. I asked if he was sure, but he insisted I have the poster. Thank you very much! Well on our way into the venue we happened across two more posters in which we grabbed, so now each one of us had a poster for the show. We were off to a good start. We had to find the press desk to pick up the pair of tickets I had won. We found the desk where there were three women working the booth. I told them my name and the contest I had won. After going through some envelopes to find my name the lady came up with nothing. She asked if I had the email that showed I had won. I pulled out my phone and showed her the email that said I had won a pair of tickets. That was when she said, ok perfect "so three of you then", I said yes three of us. While standing at the desk we could see backstage passes sitting on the desk. That was when my buddy RCD said tongue in cheek and jokingly "tickets and backstage passes". Well, much to our surprise the lady handed us three tickets and backstage passes. We all kind of looked at each other with a smirk and surprise in our eyes. She then told us that we had to be at the front of the stage by 8 o'clock and we would then be taken backstage for a meet and greet with Gene Simmons. At this point it was closing in on 8 as we had been outside chatting and having a smoke. As we were walking away and rushing to get to the front of the stage for 8 o'clock we were like did that just really happen. We high fived each other, laughed, and had smiles on our face that you just couldn't wipe off our face. I won a pair of tickets, but we now had three tickets and three backstage passes. This was shaping up to be quite the night.

Cuz, RCD and I with our backstage passes.

We got to the front of the stage in time and stood with a bunch of other fans waiting to be shuffled backstage to meet Gene. As we were standing there I couldn't help but think someone was going to come up to us and say there was a mistake and take our passes back. The wait felt long, but no one did question us. We finally got led backstage to meet Gene. I was finally going to get to meet the mighty Gene Simmons. Gene was a super hero to me as a kid. I have been a KISS fan since the age of seven and now I was actually going to meet the grease painted, fire breathing, blood spitting, bass playing super hero. To say I was excited would be an understatement. This was forty years in the making. We all got to have individual pictures taken with Gene Simmons and a minute or two of small talk with the man. I got to shake his hand and told Gene that he was like a comic super hero to me when I was young. Gene made mention of the t-shirt I was wearing. The -shirt I was wearing is from his clothing line Money Bags, a clothing line he launched in 2007 that uses the Moneybag logo that he trademarked over 25 years ago. When Gene saw the t-shirt he told me to get the backstage pass I was wearing around my neck out of the way. You have to show off that t-shirt he said to me. Gene said "I bet you get lots of comments and compliments on your shirt". I said oh ya lots, I didn't have the heart to tell him that this was the first time I had ever wore the shirt and thought it was the ugliest shirt I own. My brother actually won the t-shirt in a contest in Vancouver years ago and sent it to me as an Xmas gift. The tag on the t-shirt is autographed by Gene Simmons, so I had never wore it before as it is a collectors item and like I say ugly as sin too. Nonetheless, Gene was impressed with it. So I got to meet Gene, talked a bit with him and got my picture taken with the man. I didn't know what to expect when I met him. But he seemed genuine, friendly and happy to have his picture taken with each one of us individually. I have to say his hair or wig or whatever it is that sits on his head looks even weirder up close.

Gene Simmons and I backstage.

After all three of us had had our picture taken with him we were wondering about getting his autograph. Well after having your picture taken, you had to get in another line up for his autograph. But, you had to have a VIP pass for that privilege. Sadly we didn't have that, we only had the backstage passes. As we stood backstage after the pictures we were chatting amongst ourselves saying how cool it was to have met Gene and how it was too bad we couldn't get him to autograph our gig posters. Oh well, at least we got to meet him. That was when RCD said, lets go back to the press desk and see if we can get VIP passes. Why not, we had nothing to lose, we had already got to meet Gene. So we hurried our way back to the press desk and told the lady working there that we had just come from backstage and met Gene but couldn't get his autograph as we didn't have the VIP pass. RCD told her that they sent us back to the desk to get the proper pass. Well much to our surprise she apologized and gave us three VIP passes now. What the hell was happening, we gladly accepted the passes and rushed back down to the backstage area and got in line to get our posters autographed. When we walked away with our VIP passes around our neck, we were like giggling school girls, how the hell is this actually happening. Was this a dream or really happening. It was actually happening, so glad RCD said lets go back and try and get VIP passes. So there we stood in line again to meet Gene a second time and get his autograph, this was unbelievable!

VIP Pass

Autographed gig poster.

So now after all that excitement it was time for the actual concert. The Gene Simmons Band playing in Edmonton of all places. We missed the opening act local rockers Savage Playground, as were busy backstage :)

I wasn't sure what to expect with this show. What did surprise me was the small turnout for the concert. There were maybe three hundred people there. This was a rare performance by Gene playing a solo show, where were all the KISS Army? For those that didn't come out to the show, you missed a great concert.

The concert started with the band coming on stage and doing a quick sound check. As the band was tuning up, Gene went on to say that the band don't have roadies, as they all do there own set up and tuning, this took a while but as they were doing this Gene was talking with the audience. gene's band consisted of the following members, guitarist Phil Shouse, Jeremy Asbrock on guitar, Ryan Cook also on guitar and drummer Jarred Pope. Once that was all done the show started with band playing "Deuce" from the first KISS record.

Gene was personal and playful through out the whole show, telling jokes, and inviting members of the audience on stage to sing back up vocals. There was one point where Gene was berating one of the sound guys for monitor problems. I thought that was kind of embarrassing and showed the ego side of Gene. He asked the audience if they wanted to see his Elvis impression, which of course the crowd yelled yes. That was when he did the Elvis dead slumped on the toilet impression, he then did a Hendrix impression arms back dead, then a Mama Cass impression where he pretended to choke on a chicken bone, Gene then quipped I can do all the greats. I thought the impressions were in poor taste. He then said he had lots of Newfie jokes to tell but couldn't because his wife Shannon Tweed is in the crowd whom is a Newfoundlander. He said I'm fucked now, not being able to tell them jokes.

The setlist was made up mostly of classic KISS songs like "I Love It Loud", the already mentioned "Deuce", "Dr. Love", "Shout It Out Loud", but then there were also some surprises like "Domino", "Radioactive" from his 1978 solo album, "Plaster Caster", "She", "Christine Sixteen". Before he did "Christine Sixteen" he talked about how many great songs were about sixteen year old girls, this was kind of awkward. But he mentioned how he was now 68 years old and it was probably inappropriate to be singing about sixteen year old girls, so he changed up the words to the songs singing "Christy Sixty" that was funny as hell.

During the show fans in the crowd were yelling out requests, one of the requests was "Meet Me In The Ladies Room" in which replied "sorry dude, I'm straight", that got some laughs. During one of the songs Gene had a few women from the audience on stage with him singing background vocals and dancing, after the song was done one of the women kissed Gene. That was when he said, "hey my wife is here, we can't be having that".

I thought Gene's bass playing was terrific and his singing was top notch. This was just such a fun show to see. The last song of the night was a rocking version of "Rock and Roll All Night" in which he invited fifty people on stage to sing with him and the band. That was about 20 percent of the crowd. What a great night this was seeing Gene play this kind of show, no make up, no fireworks, no sticking the tongue out, jus a good old rock n' roll. What shocked me also about the show was that there was no merchandise available, the king of merch, and he had none, crazy! This is one evening I will never forget. Thanks to RCD for having the balls to ask for backstage passes and then getting us all up-graded to VIP passes. Such a fun night and all free. Sorry Gene you didn't make a penny from us. Good times!!!

Gene Simmons Band at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

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