The Kiss Kruise II

Will we ever get there?

Not to get to much into It. But 2012 has not really been my year. Except getting married to the girl of my dreams. And the beginning of what should be the coolest trip of the year almost ended in a disaster. Vegard and I met up at the airport early on monday morning and everything seemed to be going smooth until 30 minutes before the plain to London were supposed to leave. Then suddenly the plane was postponed for hours. So It was easy to understand that we would not be able to catch our plane from London to Miami. Then we got rebooked to fly Oslo – Copenhagen – Manchester – Philadelphia – Orlando – Miami. Something we thought seemed strange since Philadelphia was right in the middle of “Sandy’s” path. And of course we ended up being stranded in Manchester the morning after.

So let’s just say that we did not have much hope for getting on the Kruise on tuesday morning in Manchester, England. But at least we had to try to get there before the boat went on wednesday. We had two alternatives London – Toronto – Miami or London – San Francisco – Miami. And of course the airline company had no way on booking us on a plane to London. So we had to pay for new tickets. But we went for the safe option traveling over San Francisco. One hell off a plane ride to get to Miami. But much better than not getting to Miami at all. So after about 15-16 hours by plane and some waiting in the SF airport we ended up in Miami at 05:00 AM in Miami. Of course without any luggage. And we did not get that back until we came home again.

So after a couple of hours relaxing at The Holiday In we had to go and buy stuff to replace at least some of our luggage. I felt really sorry for the people sitting beside us on the last trip from San Fransisco to Miami. Because we must have smelled really bad.

After shopping we met up with our friends Håkon and Nico that had been in Miami a couple days before we arrived and headed over to the check in for the boat (Norwegian Pearl). The whole check in process and getting on the boat went pretty smooth. And then we headed up to our mini suite on the 11th deck. And I tell you. With four people living in the same room I would not have liked to be in a smaller space than a mini suite. All the Kiss stuff was laying waiting for us in the suite when we came in. At least for two of us. The other two had to talk to the lady cleaning the rooms to get their Kiss merc.

The first thing I did was to get in the shower and get some clean clothes on. I can’t say how magical that felt after traveling and sleeping in the same clothes for almost three days. Then we headed up to the 12th deck were the acoustic sail away concert with Kiss were supposed to be. And we checked out the crew sound checking before the concert. They also threw out a lot of Kiss guitar pics. So we more or less had complete sets for the acoustic set before the concert even had started.

We also managed to get most of the Norwegian Kiss fans together so we could take a group picture together that Stig posted on the Kiss Army Norway website before we left Miami. A fun moment with a lot of people already in party mode. So It was not the easiest assignment to gather people for the photo shoot.

Then there was time for the the dreaded safety briefing. but we tried to find a strategical good spot so we easily could get to the 12th deck before the acoustic show began. And It worked out really good. We all got spots in front of the stage on the first, second and third row at the concert. The time before the concert went really fast. It was quite hot standing there in the sun. But the anticipation among the people around me was incredible. To bad there was one jerk quite close to us who ruined some of It for the people standing beside and behind him. He even managed to say that he had every right to behave badly because he was American and this was his country.

For me who didn’t go to the first Kiss Kruise this was just really magical. Seeing Kiss acoustic is something I have been dreaming of since the Kiss conventions and Unplugged show. I really don’t know how many times I have seen the acoustic show from the first Kruise on DVD. But It’s many, many times. And the show this time was as good if not better than that show. The band sounded great and Paul’s voice was much better than expected. Everybody seemed to have fun and the set was much longer than on the first Kruise. At one point Gene got so pissed at one of his bass guitars that he just tossed It out to the audience. It flew right over my head and I managed to grab the headstock. But I was not close to getting the guitar. But another lucky guy did. Not that I was to disappointed. I was just thrilled that Gene would still do something like that. It was also an great idea to move the Q&A from the first day to the last, so the band could play longer. A really great start to a great cruise.

Setlist: Hard Luck Woman, Christine Sixteen, Got to Choose, Goin’ Blind, Love Her All I Can, Nothin’ to Lose, A Million to One (partial), A World Without Heroes, Only You (partial), Comin’ Home, All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose (just Paul doing the first verse a capella), Every Time I Look at You, Strutter, Sure Know Something, C’mon and Love Me, Rock Bottom, Beth, Shandi, She, Do You Love Me, Mr. Speed and Shout It Out Loud

After the concert was finished we went and grabbed some food at one of the restaurants on the boat. And then It was bedtime for me even if It was Halloween. The other guys went out and partied but I was just to tired after all that traveling. I just had to to get some sleep to survive. Guess I’m starting to get old.

At least I felt fresh and rested on the morning of the second day. Something the other guys did not. But we woke up early anyway and went for some breakfast. The choice of foods on the boat was pretty good. And I really ate more than I should have during the whole trip. After that we spent most of the day walking around mingling with other Kiss fans, drinking and spending a lot of our time in the hot tub on the 12th deck. I really didn’t check out many of the other bands. Beside seeing them when I passed by. Some of them sounded pretty good. But I was on the cruise to see Kiss, and that’s were my focus were.

So the big event of the day was the first indoor concert at the Stardust theater. Just after eating we went down and stood in a queue to get in. We had places in the pit just in front of the stage. This was my first Kiss “club gig” and I was really looking forward to experiencing Kiss in an intimate live setting like this. I missed out on both the first Kruise and the two club gigs they played in London (2010 and 2012). And what a show It was. Maybe the best Kiss show I have ever experienced. The setlist was a little disappointing compared to the incredible setlist in 2011. But there is something really special being upfront in a so intimate setting. Just standing in front picking guitar picks from Gene, Paul and Tommy’s guitars. I was just in heaven during the whole concert. The band and specially Paul seemed to have a lot of fun. Who would ever expected that they would come out for an second encore after RARAN. That have never happened at any Kiss concert I have been to. The concert really topped my two other favorite Kiss concerts (Gotheburg 83 and Donington 96). Just an incredible concert! Kiss have to do something really special to ever top that experience for me.

Setlist: Psycho Circus, Shout It Out Loud, Hell or Hallelujah, Wall of Sound, Hotter Than Hell, All for the Love of Rock & Roll, I Love It Loud, Outta This World, War Machine, Long Way Down, Detroit Rock City, Calling Dr. Love, Love Gun and Black Diamond
Encore: Lick It Up, Christine Sixteen and Rock and Roll All Nite
Encore 2: Cold Gin, Got to Choose, Nothin’ to Lose and Deuce.

After the concert It was my time to have a party and enjoy the great camaraderie among Kiss fans on the boat. I was just hanging around talking to people and drinking beer until five in the morning. And had a blast. Great to meet Kiss fans from all over the world.

On the third day the boat went to Mexico. To a place called Cozumel. A nice place. But beside a little trip to the center of the town Vegard and I choose to stay in the hot tub on the boat relaxing before the photo with the band. When Håkon and Nico came back from Cozumel he had great news. He had fixed so we would get into the second indoor show also. I can’t go into how. But I’m eternally grateful. And no money changed hands so It didn’t feel like we did anything wrong. Even if we were just supposed to see one show. So we were ready for our second show at the Stardust Theater.

Before that we got some more food and checked out the Monster book in the atrium. The book is cool. But It’s just to large and to expensive for my taste. Had It been half the size and about $ 300-400 I would have considered buying the book. No way I’m buying that Monster we saw on the Kruise. I must admit that I’m not that excited about the pictures in the book either. If I had a lot of vintage and unpublished shots there are many others I would have chosen instead of many that got into the book.

Later we met up with some other friends for some dinner before we got us some rest before our photo with Kiss. And by now we had chosen our favorite restaurant on the boat. So we ate dinner there for three days in a row. Great food and great waiters. No need to pay more cover charges on the more expensive restaurants on the boat.

Then there was the time for our photo with Kiss. It took some time standing in queue. But the waiting went fast when you’re with a lot of cool people. But the event was good organized even if the picture Itself felt really rushed. We didn’t get more time than a handshake, a picture and then out again. I was also totally convinced that I had blinked on the picture. So the picture came out better than expected. Even if I look kind of stupid in the shorts. I should have worn jeans. I just didn’t feel like It at the time. I was more or less tired of wearing jeans after the long flight we had to Miami.

After the photo we went straight down to the Starlight Theater and got in. The guy who stamped my hand had a laugh when he did It on top of the stamp from the day before. I didn’t end up in front as on the first show but ended up on the right balcony. And that probably took a way a little of the excitement I had felt during the first show. But It was one helluva show anyway. The main setlist was the same but they changed more songs than I expected. And It was great to hear Take Me, Makin Love, I stole Your Love, She etc. that they did not play the first night. So I had a blast, even if the experience was not close to what the gig the day before had been for me. But the show was easily among the 4-5 best Kiss shows I have seen.

Setlist: Take Me, Psycho Circus, Shout It Out Loud, Hell or Hallelujah, Wall of Sound, Do You Love Me, War Machine, All for the Love of Rock & Roll, Makin’ Love, I Stole Your Love, Outta This World, She, Hotter Than Hell, I Love It Loud, Long Way Down, Magic Touch (partial), Detroit Rock City, Strutter, Calling Dr. Love, Love Gun and Black Diamond
Encore: Lick It Up, C’mon and Love Me and Rock and Roll All Nite.

After the show we went out partying again. This time we more or less stayed at the Vh1 Kiss Lounge most of the time. I had real fun until I suddenly got really tired, grabbed some food and went to bed. The other guys went on for a long time after I had gone to bed.

Then on the last day of the Kruise there were only three priorities. The Q&A with Doc, Gene Simmons pic contest and the Kiss Q&A. The first Q&A started quite early so we more or less went down to the Stardust Theater just after breakfast. The Q&A with Doc was really interesting. And he talked about both the European tour in 2013 and Peters book among a lot of other stuff. There were a lot of people asking questions so the Q&A could not have been better. After the Q&A Doc took pictures with people and signed stuff. So Håkon and Vegard went down to the stage and got their picture taken with him. I really was not that interested at the time. But in hindsight I wish that I also had taken a picture with him. It’s more or less the saw feeling I had after meeting Bill Aucoin in 2004. Why didn’t I get a picture with him?

We stayed in the Stardust Theater to watch the Gene Simmons pic contest. Gene was delayed for the guitar pic throwing contest. And I really don’t find stuff like that much fun really. So if It had not been for Gene being there I probably would not have watched the contest at all. At the same time Paul were a referee at the belly flop contest on deck. Not that I would have found that to be much fun either, but It would probably have been better than the pic contest.

Later in the evening we had the Kiss Q&A. Most people expected It to be on the same stage at the acoustic concert. So most people got surprised when they changed It to the balcony above 12th deck. Most of my friends were already sitting in the hot tub underneath. So I just jumped up there sitting on the side with my legs in the water. The Q&A was quite entertaining. But as last time It was quite useless as an Q&A. The questions had been submitted in advance. So Kiss knew what questions they were going to get. But It was a lot of fun anyway, with the band joking around.

After the Q&A I ant down to see Skid Row for a while. I had not seen them since they opened for Mötley Crüe in 1989. So I was quite excited. But that didn’t last long. I really did not like their new singer so I left after half the set was finished. It was better hanging around the boat drinking some beer on this last day of the Kruise.

The trip home went much better than our trip to down. So after almost a day in Miami and hours on the plane to London and then to Oslo we were back in cold, cold Norway. And back in renovation hell… ;-)

The Kruise was an incredible experience. Somthing all Kiss fans should do at least once. And I would really love to go next year also. Even if I don’t think I would be able because all the money we have to spend on the house this year. But if I’m not able to go in 2013 I really hope I’m able to go if there is a Kruise in 2014. At least I will be able to see Kiss in Europe next year. Even if 2012 has not been the best year for me personally It has been a great year for Kiss fans worldwide. And It’s not over yet.

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