1975 seems like a long time ago, it kind of is. I was 16 years old and going to my first rock concert. It was the summer of 1975, June 7th to be exact, and KISS with RUSH opening were bringing their act to the Civic Center in San Diego, Ca. These were two of my favorite bands, and I wasn’t going to miss it.
Time to experience live Rock and Roll
With ticket in hand I approached the Civic Center doors with security waiting to search me, I complied and my friends and I were soon inside. As I walked through the door that lead to the concert area I was taken aback by the size of everything. All the black curtains surrounding the stage, the volume of the music that was coming from the huge PA system, the massive lighting rigs, and all the people, it was surreal. We made it to our seats, they weren’t bad, about mid level and a little left of the stage and proceeded to people watch, that was a show in itself.
Before I knew it, the lights went out and RUSH took the stage. Wow, was this AWESOME, I was mesmerized, there was so much to look at. Being a drummer myself, I fixated on the “Professor on the drum kit”, Neil Peart. This was the bands first tour with Neil, and they were touring in support of the new album “Fly By Night“, their first studio album with “The Professor”. They opened their set with “Finding My Way” from their debut album “RUSH“. Geddy Lee’s voice pierced through the auditorium and his Rickenbacker bass along with Neil’s bass drums shook my rib cage. This was something I had never felt before. Alex Lifeson’s Gibson Les Paul guitar blasted out of his Marshall stacks as the band proceeded to blow me away with their tight technical performance song after song. The set is a bit of a blur now, after all it was 34 years ago, but I do know it was amazing. One thing that I will never forget was what happened at the end of RUSH’s set.
Encore for the ages
Unbeknownst to us this was the last show of the tour and KISS was planning on celebrating it with a bang. Now keep in mind that I had only seen KISS on the cover of their debut album, “KISS” and had no idea what they looked like on stage. As RUSH finished their set, out walked KISS in full costume from their make-up down to their 6″ platform boots, OH MY GOD! They were all wearing Kimonos over their outfits and proceeded to cream pie RUSH right on stage, Geddy, Alex and Neil were covered. Alex Lifeson remembers the night quite well, in the book, “Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away“.
“We had a big whipped cream scene with them at the end of our tour,” recalls Alex.”They just creamed us with cream pies, it was serious. I was getting stuff out of my guitar pickups for weeks afterwords”.
After the creaming RUSH and KISS went off stage and a few minutes later, much to our delight RUSH came back out for an encore. As they played, Alex and Geddy would slide around on the cream pie covered stage almost falling a few times but managed to finish the song and to a standing ovation they slid off stage.
Could it get any better?
I didn’t think it could, but it did. KISS hit the stage like an atomic bomb. Opening with the song “Deuce” from the album “KISS” with flash pods going off, smoke bombs exploding, lights going every which way, you name it they were throwing it at us. The choreography was something I had never seen before from a band on T.V. (as I said this was my first live show) Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley moving together, Paul and Ace Frehley, then all three. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Gene, what an awesome looking persona. He stalked around the stage like some kind of praying mantis lizard creature. His tongue projecting and air licking everything in front of him, his bat like wings opened as he raised his arms, the way he high stepped in his 6″ heels as he moved around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Paul was the perfect front man whipping the crowd into a frenzy and keeping all the ladies entertained. Ace was the silent one that did all his talking with his guitar, he had a look about him like he really was from outer space. Peter Criss rocked behind the drums doing what he could to join in with all the choreography that was going on in front of him and performed a solid drum solo. This was an amazing rock band, I loved their music and now, holy shit! what a stage show. They played songs from the album’s, “KISS“, “Hotter Than Hell” and “Dressed to Kill“.
While all this was going on I somehow spotted Geedy Lee lurking behind the amps donning Indian head gear and carrying a loaded bow and arrow, you know, the kind with the rubber suction cup on the end. He appeared to be hunting. I think he was out to avenge his band mates and nail the dudes that wasted them with cream pies. I don’t know if he succeeded because I soon lost sight of him as he moved around, no doubt for a better shot. KISS finished their set and encore and before I knew it the lights came on and a big dose of reality hit. As we left the Civic Center and made our way to the car my friends and I recalled what we had just seen. I told myself, one things for sure, I was going to be attending a lot more concerts after this. I have seen numerous KISS and RUSH shows since, but this one was hard to top.