Back in March of 2000, while living in the Phoenix area, I got to cover the opening night of what was supposed to be KISS’s Farewell Tour. (The group’s two remaining original members — Gene Simmons, shown above, and Paul Stanley — have since decided to soldier on with two hired guns for what has essentially been an eight-year-long cash grab that falls just short of turning the entire audience upside down and shaking all of the money out of its pockets.) The publicist who hooked me up with the review ticket asked if I wanted a photo pass to go with it.
“Um … YA-AH!”
I had never before photographed a concert, and didn’t even have a respectable camera with which to shoot one. I was told I could shoot the band during the first two songs, and that flash photography was prohibited. (I guess the band members didn’t want to get blinded and fall off the edge of the stage. Pussies.) To someone with no photographic experience, this sounded about the same as if they had said “We’re going to blindfold you and you have to leave the lens cap on.”
Highly skeptical of my chances of successfully capturing a single decent shot of the band, I borrowed a Canon Rebel (film version; digital wasn’t yet the standard way back at the turn of the millennium) and headed to the show, stopping on the way at a camera shop, where I informed the employees that I needed to buy the most appropriate type of film for shooting that night’s KISS concert sans flash. They clearly thought I was full of shit, but they turned me on to the right film (Fuji 1600), and both they, and I, were pleasantly surprised when I returned the next day to have the film developed and discovered that I had managed to score a few decent shots. (Special thanks to the Associated Press photographer who adjusted the settings on my camera about two minutes before the band hit the stage.)
Despite their metamorphosis into full-blown money whores, I still have a special place in my heart for KISS, who I began worshipping at the age of six (you know, until I began worshiping that other band), and whose influence on me had a great deal to do with my insistence on pursuing a career that I would truly enjoy instead of just settling for a job.