Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stanley vs. Coverdale


This is not one of those "who is the better singer?" threads. This really was Stanley vs. Coverdale.

Every Kiss show that I have seen has it's own story. Some more memorable than others and one in particular that was both great and a little weird.

The summer of 1990, Kiss was out on the road bringing the Hot in the Shade Tour across North America. At the same time Whitesnake were also on the tour trail with an all-star lineup (Steve Vai had just joined), working the Slip of the Tongue album.

Apparently the tours were both going to reach Toronto on the same date. So instead of competing for many of the same fans, somebody came up with the amazing idea to combine the tours into one huge metal show at the CNE stadium. This was going to be the concert of the summer for the Canadian metal fans.

June 15th, 1990 a beautiful summer day and thousands of metalheads headed to Toronto for what would be a memorable concert.

Slaughter and Faster Pussycat tore up the stage under the hot sun and they both were well received by the anxious crowd. Now I knew that the show was billed as Whitesnake featuring Kiss so I fully realized that Kiss would be going on first. What I didn't realize was what was about to transpire.

We lucked out and had 3rd row center seats, right up front. With me at the show was my good friend Andrew, who up to this point was still a Kiss virgin. As Faster Pussycat left the stage I assumed the curtain would be lowered to hide the set change as Kiss were about to set things on fire.

As the stage crew raced around onstage I was a little perplexed as they openly created a stripped down basic stage with some amps. What the hell was this? Not exactly the "Leon" Sphinx stage that I had heard all about. This was all we were getting? This is what my buddy's first Kiss show was to be?

I shouldn't have been worried because Kiss strapped on their guitars and took to the stage with an intensity that I had not remembered from them ever. KISS owned that stage, Gene and especially Paul seemed possessed with an electric energy that was about to explode.

CNE Stadium Toronto (was filmed in the movie Detroit Rock City)

Then it all went down. Paul started rapping to the fans, "Toronto! When we signed on for this show we wanted to bring you bombs!""When we signed on for this show we wanted to bring you Lasers!" The crowd were going crazy. "What we didn't realize was that a certain member of a certain band wasn't going to allow us to bring our show to you!" "It's Ok Toronto, tonight we will let the music do the talking and we'll be back to bring you the bombs and the lasers!"

At this point David Coverdale approached the side stage to flip Paul Stanley the bird. The majority of the audience couldn't see this, but at third row center we witnessed the "bird" take flight and the angry glance that Paul fired back.

Again the crowd erupted chanting Kiss!, Kiss!, Kiss!
They soldiered on playing a great set with a full compliment of encores. Kiss seemed to be throwing down a leather studded gauntlet. Without the effects, and pyro and much of what makes a Kiss show so special, they went on stage and simply destroyed! It may have been the best Kiss show musically that I have ever experienced.

After the set, they walked off stage and we could see some commotion taking place. We heard "unconfirmed" reports that Paul and David Coverdale exchanged words as Kiss were leaving the stage that erupted into some brief fisticuffs with crew members separating the two singers. Not sure if that was exactly what we were seeing but something definitely went down at sidestage.

As the set was being switched up for the night's headliner, my buddy told me to turn around. When I looked back I couldn't believe it as thousands of people were heading for the exit. I was pretty stunned but as a Kiss fan I was also a little proud. The fans were sending a pretty clear message to Mr. Coverdale.

Whitesnake hit the stage and put on a decent show. There is no doubt they are a great, legendary band. The Slip of the Tongue lineup had no shortage of talent and anytime Steve Vai attacks the six string (or sometimes 7 string)it's worth a listen. The band were solid and I was enjoying the music.

Then instead of just going out and delivering the best show he could, Mr. Coverdale decided to open his mouth and make matters worse. He proceeded to let the crowd know that he felt the opening band tonight were a bunch of whiners. I will tell you, you could have heard a pin drop for a few moments. My jaw was on the ground as the insults started to be shouted at him followed by a wave of boos.

And the people again started filing out of the stadium. I had to smile because after that statement, every time he went to the mic to say something the boos could be heard. By the time they wrapped up their set the stadium was only half full.

It must have been quite a night for David with a lesson learned the hard way. It's not wise to Fu*k with the Kiss Army.


RJhog (Classic Rock Bottom) said...

Great story Wallygator.

Andrew (the former KISS virgin) said...

As usual my longtime best friend has captured exactly what that concert really was like. My first introduction to KISS live couldn't have been any better. I liked them before the concert, but I had a new found respect and admiration for them after. They were so energetic, tight, and loud that I soon forgot my anticipation (and disappointment) from the stories I'd heard from Wally (Wallygator) about the stage props, pyro, and effects that usually accompanied them.

I liked Whitesnake and KISS. I can't say I liked one any more than the other at that time but professionally there was a huge difference both on and off stage. The fact that KISS was about to play on a stage that was limited in size and appearance and was slightly larger than what is normally reserved for opening acts set the tone for the tension that bubbled up during the show. KISS had every right to be upset about what had transpired. Professionally, it was essentially an ego trip. In my opinion they were bigger, more experienced, and had many more legions of fans than Whitesnake.

Regardless, I later saw KISS when they toured through Hamilton, Ontario at Copps Coliseum with the Hot in the Shade tour (also with Wallygator). I finally saw them in their element complete with stage props, pyro, and effects. I loved the show and they were fantastic but..........there was something about seeing them for the first time at the CNE Stadium. There was an intensity and anger that was prevalent that I've seen only a few times since from bands at other concerts. Was it because we were so close and saw things off the stage that most couldn't? Maybe, but that's also what made it so memorable.

Thanks for reminding me just how much I loved my first KISS concert!

Bill (KISS fan since 1978) said...

OK, I actually know WHY Coverdale was behaving like such a dick towards KISS. It went back a couple of years. Whitesnake had hired Marty Callner to come out on the road and shoot a video with them. KISS was on tour, and in the same part of the country, and THEY wanted Callner to do THEIR next video. I'm thinking this was 1988, the location was Boston, and the KISS video was "Turn on the Night," because I'm pretty sure Callner directed that one. The Whitesnake video was probably "Give Me All Your Love."

David Coverdale had already paid for Callner and his crew to come out and do the video, so when KISS contacted him, he figured, great, it'll save on expenses, because he's already in town for Whitesnake. The KISS show date preceded the Whitesnake show, which is key in what transpired. When you do a video, you have to do multiple takes to get all the right angles and maybe someone screws up, and you have to re-shoot...Plus, although the performance was lip-synched, KISS shot their video in front of an actual paying live audience. So, just what was Coverdale's problem with this?

Well, for the reasons I explained, it was going to be a long shoot. Everyone would be too exhausted to do the Whitesnake video. Callner utilized TWO crews: He put the A crew on the KISS video, and the B crew on the Whitesnake video. That infuriated Coverdale, because he was paying for Callner and his crew to come out there, and felt he should have gotten the top crew (valid argument). So, he held a grudge against KISS, and when the time came to perform together two years later, as the headliner, Coverdale took advantage of the opportunity to make the rules, and he denied KISS the use of their full staging.

I don't remember where I heard this story, but that IS the story. there you have it.

Bill (KISS fan since 1978) said...

Almost forgot to add...Bruce Kulick did a guitar clinic at a music store in Toronto when they came back, and I have a videotape of it. Someone asked about it, and he said little about it, dismissing it as usual music BUSINESS nonsense, but he did say, their attitude was "What are you worried about? Isn't Vai a great enough guitar player? Isn't he (Coverdale) a great enough singer? When kids come to a KISS show, they're gonna expect some pyro!"

Bryon said...

Great write-up! I was at that show and it remains one of the craziest shows that I've ever seen. My buddies and I went to the show for Whitesnake and Kiss only secondarily, but by the time we left we were bonafide Kiss fans. The Kiss show was absolutely electric and they had the crowd in a frenzy before they exited at the end of their set.

We were in the stands that night and didn't witness any of the side-stage antics, but I do remember multiple people from our section leaving, and the rest sitting for the Whitesnake set.

Unknown said...

Fuck stanley and that raccoon pelt he has stapled to his melon
David surpasses him on all levels

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