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Revisiting Kiss’ First Reunion Show

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On June 28, 1996, the newly reunited original lineup of Kiss played their first full concert in over 16 years at the sold-out Tiger Stadium in Detroit. In the ensuing years, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley have each written about what was going through their minds on this momentous evening. Here are their recollections.

Gene Simmons on how he learned how quickly the show sold out
“The safe way would have been to test our act in a smaller market, where we could sharpen our act and the problems in the show wouldn’t be scrutinized. But [manager] Doc [McGhee] booked a baseball stadium in Detroit. To be honest, we weren’t even sure we would sell out the show. Tickets went on sale one Friday night. At 6 in the morning on Saturday, Doc called me at home to tell me that he had some good news and some bad news. I asked for the bad news first. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘we don’t have any more tickets to sell.’ We had sold out the whole stadium – about 50,000 seats – in under an hour.” (from Kiss and Make-Up)

Peter Criss recalls his pre-show jitters
“Gene and Paul were very calm and Ace was quiet. I was my usual physical self, talkative, very up. I still had that crazy energy. When we got to the gig, Gene and I shared one room and Paul and Ace had the other. ‘Wow, we’re gonna play for 40,000 people,’ I said in awe. ‘That’s freaking me out.’ … My heart started exploding in my chest. I was sitting next to Gene and I started beating out a fill on my leg, and then I started playing his leg, just like I used to do for our big shows twenty years earlier. I finally broke him. He started laughing. ‘You Italians, nothing changes, huh?’ he said. ‘Man, this is going to be good,’ I said.” (from Makeup to Breakup)

Paul Stanley remembers the rush of the show’s opening minutes
“The curtain dropped, and the force of the crowd reaction nearly lifted me off my feet. I had to fight to be in control of the situation, of myself, of my persona, of the band. … The joy for me was being able to revisit something I’d experienced as a much younger person in a different frame of mind. When I was in the midst of it the first time around, I had the sense it would never end. … Then it had died down. But there on that stage, with Kiss reunited, facing that kind of energy again, I felt thankful in an entirely different way.” (from Face the Music: A Life Exposed)

Ace Frehley on being reunited with his former bandmates
“The closer it came to showtime, the more a strange sense of deja vu permeated the air. From the moment we hit the stage, 40,000 screaming fans stood up, and the excitement continued until the final encore. When the show was over, we congratulated each other backstage. There was a genuine feeling of camaraderie in the dressing room.” (from No Regrets)

Kiss played 192 shows altogether on their Alive / Worldwide tour, ending, exactly one year after opening night, in Libson, Portugal. The reunited lineup would go on to record one more studio album (1998’s Psycho Circus) and mount two more world tours before Frehley left for a second time in 2001 and the second departure and then brief return and finally the third departure of Criss between 2001-04. Kiss have continued to tour with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer joining Simmons and Stanley in what is now the band’s longest-running lineup.

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Next: Top 10 Gene Simmons Kiss Songs

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