By Tim Leeds
An icon in American rock and roll is going on its final tour, and four area residents just got back from one of the shows in Denver.
The band KISS has announced this year's tour will be its final shows on the road. Adam Anderson, Casey Jones and Donald and Roy Mayer decided to leave Havre at midnight Monday and drive to Denver to see it.
After an 11-hour drive, they checked into a motel and waiter for the show to start at 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
"As far as I'm concerned its the best concert I've ever seen," said Ronald Mayer.
He said some fans at the concert couldn't believe their dedication.
"We said, we came 40 miles from Canada' and people said, what, are you nuts, you crazy?' They couldn't believe we came as far as we did to see them," he said
He said that when the band Skid Row opened the concert, there were still some empty seats, but by the end of Ted Nugent's second song, the place was packed with about 17,000 people. Nugent was the second act at the show.
Mayer said that when KISS came on after Nugent, all 17,000 people rose to their feet for every song.
He said it's hard to think of this being their last tour.
"It was almost sad, but the way it was there was no time to be sad," Mayer said.
He said Skid Row's opening was OK, but since they don't have Sebastian Bach, their original singer, and their guitar player is performing with a broken ankle, "it just wasn't Skid Row."
Nugent made up for that, Mayer said.
"He's opened for kiss for years. He set the stage for what was coming," he said.
He said Nugent had the audience singing along with him and had them worked to a fever pitch before the main attraction came out. He said in his closing act, he came out with a Native American headdress, lit an arrow on fire, and shot his guitar with his bow and arrow with an explosion behind the guitar.
Mayer said KISS opened with "Detroit Rock City" and didn't make a single mistake in the concert.
"It was just like a record. They didn't mess up once", he said.
He said it was a classic Kiss concert. He said the pyrotechnics raised the temperature of the auditorium a few degrees every time they went off, guitar player Ace Frehley had guitar fireworks, bass player Gene Simmons did his traditional spitting blood and fire during "God of Thunder," and singer/guitar player Paul Stanley was incredible.
"Paul live is unexplainable," Mayer said.
He said the show ended with the KISS traditional ending, "Rock and Roll All Night," with the drum risers lifting, off of the stage, fireworks form Frehley's guitar, and pyrotechnics on the stage.
Mayer said one of the most memorable moments of the concert was when drummer Peter Criss sang the song "Beth"
"I almost had a tear in my eye," he said. "Peter sang me and the boys'll be playing all night', and it's their last tour."
The first self-titled KISS album was released on Feb. 18, 1974. Now, after more than 45 albums and several line-ups in the band, they have announced that they will never tour again.
Mayer said they will probably still be putting out albums, but the chance to see them again live was too much to miss. He has seen them twice before, in 1996 and 1997, and said that he just might see another concert in the final tour.
But he said he might not.
"It was such an unreal experience in Denver," he said, "I'm afraid a different show might ruin that experience."