45 Years Ago: Kiss Receive Scathing, Inspiring Concert Review
Kiss have never had a very friendly relationship with rock critics, but sometimes even the most brutal reviews can be used for inspiration.
Case in point: Seattle Daily Times writer Patrick MacDonald's infamously withering review of the band's May 25, 1974, stop at the Paramount Northwest — part of a triple bill with Manfred Mann and Savoy Brown that, as MacDonald noted in his May 27 article, drew a number of local rock fans who were just as interested in getting high and passing out in the lobby as they were in actually listening to the music.
Not that MacDonald was all that impressed with the music either. Describing Kiss as "a very flashy glitter band that tries to make up in theatrics what it lacks musically," he called their set an "amusing rock extravaganza" while dismissing the songs as "strictly on the moron level ... made up of a series of simple chords any child could learn and lyrics that are there because they rhyme." But if the show was a visual spectacle with little redeeming musical value, it still succeeded on those admittedly limited terms; as MacDonald went on to point out, the crowd gave Kiss a standing ovation.
But by sacrificing a real artistic identity for the sake of flash and focusing on showmanship at the expense of songwriting, he argued, the band was ensuring its own quick trip into obscurity. "I hope the four guys who make up the group, whose names don't matter, are putting money away for the future, the near future," MacDonald decreed. "Because Kiss won't be around long."
Again, it's well worth noting that this was far from the only negative review the band received — and that for a time, it looked like MacDonald's gloomy forecast for Kiss's future would prove accurate. But for whatever reason, his words resonated particularly strongly with the members of the band, who ultimately threw them back in his face when they used that last quote on t-shirts printed up for their 2000 farewell tour. And judging from one of Gene Simmons' recent tweets, he still hasn't forgotten the article:
MacDonald, for whatever it's worth, ended up doing pretty well for himself too, remaining a fixture of the Seattle journalism landscape until retiring from his post in 2008 after 35 years as the Seattle Times' music critic. Fittingly, he even ended his farewell column by quoting Kiss. "What am I going to do now?" he asked. "Well, of course, I’m going to rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day!"