Sunday, August 25, 2019

KISS kisses Pennsylvania goodbye in Hershey 

Cara Lombardo and Adam Nulton are all smiles before KISS’ recent show at Hersheypark Stadium.

Local fans share their thoughts on ‘End Of The Road’ tour


HERSHEY, PA - For the past 45 years, the state of Pennsylvania has been a frequent tour stop for the rock group KISS. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Allentown, Harrisburg, Scranton, Erie, State College … the iconic band has played them all. And on Wednesday, with its show in Hershey, the group made what was probably its final stop in the Keystone State. And for the 20,000 fans at Hersheypark Stadium – many of whom had traveled from Northeastern Pennsylvania - it was apparently a most memorable KISS goodbye.

Jim Donnelly of Back Mountain, who had previously seen KISS about 15 times, was at the show in Hershey. Afterwards, he had no regrets about traveling 100 miles to see the band again.

“I’d seen a lot of the new show on YouTube, so I kind of had an idea of what it was going to look like, but it was just incredible in person,” said Donnelly. “The guys were on fire. There’s a lot of energy in this show. They’re saying it’s their last hurrah, and I thought it was incredible.”

Angela Thomas (right ) poses with a fellow
KISS fan at Hersheypark Stadium
Donnelly has been on the annual KISS Kruise four times and will be setting sail with the band again this fall, and thus he will see the group perform again in a smaller setting. But Wednesday’s show in Hershey will likely be the last time he saw a full KISS arena/stadium show.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “I had some friends there, and we were kind of looking back, because there’s a very good chance it will be the last show that I’ll see them at the level. But we say, ‘Thanks for the memories.’ ”

Adam Nulton of Wilkes-Barre was also at the show on Wednesday, which he said was about his 10th KISS concert.   

“I saw them a few years back and I thought that was going to be my last chance to see them,” he said. “But I think they felt the fans still needed the music that they deliver. And I think a lot of the fans that are older want to share that experience with their children and say, 'This is what I grew up on. This is what you need to experience.’ And people definitely need to see the band before they call it a day.”

Steve Middaugh and his friend Bill Evanicki rock 'n roll all
nite at KISS' 'End of The Road" show in Hershey
Nulton made sure that his girlfriend, Cara Lombardo of Tamaqua, was one of those people. And thus she was at her first KISS show in Hershey.

“I was so excited,” said Lombardo. “I’d heard it’s an experience that you’ll never, ever forget. Since I was so late in first getting to see them, I kind of wish they’d stick around a little bit longer, but I get it. They’re getting older. But I feel blessed to have been able to see them before it’s really farewell.”

According to Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs, the authors of “Kiss Alive Forever: The Complete Touring History,” KISS has played Pennsylvania 84 times. Additionally, they’ve played nine shows in Camden, N.J. – shows that were primarily aimed at the Philadelphia market. The band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and as an America band, has more certified gold albums than any other group.  Steve Middaugh of Exeter saw his fifth KISS concert in Hershey on Wednesday. He said he’s been a loyal fan for most of his life and that it’s always been the band’s music that he enjoys the most. He added that he was not about to miss the “End Of The Road” tour.

“This is it,” said Middaugh. “That’s why I really wanted to get to the show. And I thought it was great. I really, really enjoyed it. We had a blast. The theatrics were so good and they played some of the stuff from the non-makeup era (“Lick It Up,” “Heaven’s On Fire,” “Crazy Crazy Nights”), and I liked that a lot. They really went all out.”

Traci Strungis of Mountaintop caught her third KISS show on Wednesday. She agreed with Middaugh about songs performed. 

Traci Strungis (left) and friends bid farewell to KISS in Hershey 
“The set list was really well thought out,” said Strungis. “It had a mix of old KISS and songs from different eras, so I think diehard fans were pleased, as well as first-time fans. It covered their whole timespan. And I liked that. I really love when they segue from ‘Lick It Up’ into ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ That’s awesome. The guitar work is incredible.  And the stage show was fantastic … with all of the pyrotechnics, fireworks and confetti. Paul Stanley flies out to the middle of the stadium on a zip-line so that you can be closer to him. It’s definitely a great visual show. 

“They looked so good and sounded so good that I think they should keep going,” she added. “But I realize that they would probably like to go out on top. And they are. I’ve seen them a few times before, and they just keep getting better. They were just phenomenal.”
Angela Thomas of Wilkes-Barre attended her second KISS show in Hershey. She said that KISS, live in concert, is still “The Hottest Band In The World.”

“I had a great time,” said Thomas. “Paul Stanley is my favorite and I just absolutely love seeing him. And there were so many people there that were there for the same reason that I was – for the love of their music. It was just, ‘Wow.’ I just had an amazing time.

“I get it,” said Thomas, when asked how she feels about this being KISS’ final tour. “They’ve been around for a long time. But hopefully it isn’t. They’re one of my favorite bands and I’d like to see them again and again.”

Dave Donati of Dupont has seen KISS in concert 22 times, including every tour since 1992. Wednesday’s show was his third time catching the band on this tour. Having seen every tour over the past 25 years, he ranks ‘End Of The Road’ as among the band’s best.

“I’ve enjoyed every tour, but this one certainly has more energy and more feel,” said Donati.  “The guys on stage have just given a new level of energy and have really given something back to the fans. There’s no opening band. There’s no foolin’ around. I saw the tours they did with Motley Cue and Def Leppard and I loved those tours, but I’m not a co-headline kind of guy. This is KISS’ show. Tommy Thayer has been on another level on this tour. I’ve watched him with awe.  And Gene has always been my favorite. That will never change. And I think he’s having a great time up there right now saying goodbye.

“I’m a concert junkie,” added Donati. “I’ve been to more than 100 concerts and nothing compares to a KISS concert. Nothing.”
Debra Ann Caruso channels her inner Starchild
for her 50th KISS concert in Hershey 

For Debra Ann Caruso of Jermyn, Wednesday’s show in Hershey was her 50th KISS concert and marked the fourth time she’s seen the band on the “End Of The Road” tour.  She says that at some point, during every show on this tour, she’s been brought to tears. She also feels it’s one of the band’s greatest tours, ever.

“The production is amazing,” said Caruso. “The first time I saw this stage was at Madison Square Garden. Then I went to Philly. Then I flew to Tennessee, to take my niece to see the show. And I’ve been blown away. I’ve been blown away by the production, and I’ve been blown away by how they’ve looked and how they’ve sounded. Paul Stanley is 67 and looks amazing. He’s miraculous to me. They’re just amazing.”

Despite perhaps being the band’s biggest fan in NEPA, Caruso says she’s OK with the group's decision to stop touring sometime next year.

“They deserve the break,” she said. “And their families, more than anything, deserve the break. But personally, I’m sad. I’m sad because it’s been a huge part of my life. When people ask me, ‘How are you still a fan after all of this time?’ and ‘How do you still get so excited and emotional?,’ I say that it’s the one singular thing that’s been in my heart and been in my life for as long as my love of family. I can’t imagine it going away. But I’m happy for them that they’re going out on such a high, and that they’re retiring with grace and on the top of their game.  And I feel like they’re doing that.”

(Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in Northeastern Pennsylvania since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu,” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on The River. Reach him at 

1 comment:

  1. So honored to have been interviewed for this article. Thank you Alan for thinking of me!