A  mere 44 years after forming the hottest band in the world are still teaching the young guns how it’s done.

Kiss return to the home of metal for the first time in seven years to deliver a masterclass in how to deliver a rock n’ roll show.

New York four-piece The Dives are first to hit the stage as they have the honour of being the opening act for the tour and their brand of melodic hard rockin’ power pop hits all the right notes on a balmy evening in England’s second city.  If musicality, energy and knowing how to write a killer modern rock song are of any value these days then this band might just be rolling in the money before too long.

Apart from a very keen ear for melody and more than a passing resemblance then there is little to suggest that guitarist/vocalist Evan Stanley is the son of Kiss founder Paul.  Although Evan has a rich heritage from which to plunder he, and his band, are keen to forge their own path.

Clearly the band would be very foolish indeed to refuse the leg-up that being related to a rock legend has given them, after all how many bands with only one EP to their name could play an arena.  The vast majority of bands would still be stuck playing pubs at this stage.  However, The Dives are not meant for pubs and it is clear from the opening tracks that they are destined for the big stage.

Their debut EP “Everybody Is Talkin'” is delivered with style and no shortage of panache.  Tracks like “Anticipation”, “Man, Oh Mandy” and “Make It Like The Movies” are power pop tour-de-forces that explode on the live stage.  The latter closes the all-too short set.  A cover of The Beatles “Don’t Let me Down” is another highlight.  Maximum Volume would not have argued if they had continued for another hour, that said with only one EP under their belts then it might be best to give them a bit more time to write some more modern rock classics.  The Dives have gone down a storm.

Those who dismiss Kiss as an old faded force who just tour the world to keep Gene & Paul’s pockets full irrespective of who plays alongside side them are seriously missing the point.  Kiss are in the entertainment business.  They are in the business of entertaining millions of their fans worldwide, they always have been, and they are quite rightly, as Gene Simmons is not shy of pointing out, the hardest working rock n’ roll band on the planet.  Yes they want your money but they are willing to give you a hell of a lot, not least a damn fine night of some of the finest rock music ever committed to tape,  in return for your hard-earned cash.  Many bands at this stage of their career would just take the money and barely give you anything.

Time, like the band, is marching on and they will not be around forever, Gene reckons a few more years and that will be that.  Of course, it has been mentioned that the band could carry on without Gene & Paul to keep the live experience going and take the name and brand of Kiss into yet another generation.  Whether the fans would buy into that or not is open to question but what cannot be doubted is that Kiss are still the greatest live rock n’ roll band on the planet.

Opening with “Deuce” and following on with “Shout It Out Loud” is about as surefire a way to get off to a flyer as it gets.  A short silence in memory of those who died on Monday at Manchester Arena is the only brief respite and moment of reflection in the entire evening. It was a sombre moment as you would expect but it also highlighted the unity that music lovers have not matter what type of music you happen to be partial to.

Kiss fans happen to be partial to good time rock n’ roll.  This is what their heroes deliver in spades.  From the anthemic “Crazy, Crazy Nights” to the equally anthemic “Rock And Roll All Nite” and tracks of the caliber of “Firehouse”, with Gene in full fire-spitting demon mode, “Black Diamond” and the maximum audience participation of “Say Yeah” it is a golden path that the band walk all the way through their 1hr 45 minutes on stage.

A rare outing for Destroyer-era favourite “Flamin’ Youth” gets a welcoming usually reserved for a number one hit single and provides a reminder that with Kiss it’s not just about the hits, although they just keep on coming.

“God Of Thunder” which sees Gene hoisted above the stage to look down on his loyal and fanatical subjects, is the most triumphant  piece of theatrical rock this side of Alice Cooper.  Paul Stanley takes a zip-wire over to a platform near the sound-desk to give those at the back a closer piece of the action during a powerful version of “Psycho Circus”.  A thunderous version of “War Machine” was also a major highlight.

By the time “Detroit Rock City” closes the evening there is a sense that no matter what happens in the future they are still the hottest band in the world.

You wanted the best.  You got the best.  Inevitably a little past their absolute peak perhaps……….. but still the best.

Donnie’s Rating: The Dives – 85/100     Kiss – 90/100

Roman’s Rating: The Dives – 99/100    Kiss – 100/100

Reviewers note: My 8 year-old son, Roman, also experienced his first live Kiss show and the tragedy that befell those in attendance on Monday in Manchester was not lost on me.  It was a magical moment to be able watch my son genuinely thrilled and excited beyond belief that he was seeing his heroes for the first time and then talking about it on the way home.  I imagine that the parents of those children who passed away last Monday would also have had the same feelings during the Ariana Grande show but sadly did not get to share those post-show moments.  Life is precious and moments like tonight are precious. Here are” Roman’s thoughts:

“You should go to Kiss because if you like blood then you like The Demon. Starchild has a special eye and during the concert you should not fall asleep because this is the hottest band in the world and you will get burned.  The music is absolutely amazing. Catman is a great drummer and Tommy an awesome guitar player with great solos.  The Dives are also an amazing band and “Make It Like The Movies” was my favourite song of theirs. It was the best night ever!!!!.  If it was the best out of 100 I would go for 100\100.”