Kiss to play on as digital rock stars after performing farewell show

Fans at the farewell gig in New York were treated to the first look of the band's avatars
Fans at the farewell gig in New York were treated to the first look of the band's avatars

Kiss will “live on” as digital rock stars after playing their final farewell show in New York this weekend, the band said.

The legendary rockers left the stage for the final time at Madison Square Garden on Saturday but the crowd got one more hit from the band in the form of their 8ft flying avatars, which performed God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.

Frontman Paul Stanley, 71, said what Kiss had accomplished in 50 years had been amazing but “not enough”, adding that it “deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are”.

“It’s exciting for us to go to the next step and see Kiss immortalised.”

Bandmate Gene Simmons, 74, said the technology, originally developed for the ABBA Voyage show, would allow the rockers to stay on the road during retirement and be “forever young and forever iconic”.

“The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before,” he added.

The avatars were created by the George Lucas-founded special-effects company Industrial Light & Magic, and financed by Swedish conglomerate Pophouse Entertainment, which is co-owned by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus.

They have been tried and tested for multiple packed performances of ABBA’s Voyage in London, which opened in May last year and where fans of the Swedish pop group can attend a full concert recorded by the performers but performed by their digital versions.

The show reportedly makes more than £1.5million a week.

Kiss’s final line-up of founders Stanley and Simmons, guitarist Tommy Thayer, 63, and drummer Eric Singer, 65, created their digital counterparts by performing in motion capture suits earlier this year.

Their avatars were revealed to the New York audience on Saturday night after Kiss had closed out the final performance of their The End of the Road farewell tour.

But unlike ABBA, Kiss’s avatars appear to have been bestowed with superhero qualities, towering over the audience as 8ft tall entities that breathe fire and shoot electricity from their fingers.

The band, known for their black and white make-up and string of hits throughout the 70s and 80s such as I Was Made For Lovin’ You and Rock And Roll All Nite, will be able to continue their legacy for “eternity” with the technology, Pophouse Entertainment chief executive Per Sundin said.

The real Kiss during the last performance of their The End of the Road farewell tour
The real Kiss during the last performance of their The End of the Road farewell tour - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

“These four individuals already have superpowers. We want to be as open as possible,” he said but added they have yet to unveil their plans for the avatars.

“We’re going to figure it out after the tour,” he said. “Is it a Kiss concert in the future? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure?”

It is not expected that former members of Kiss, who formed in 1973, such as Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, will be part of the avatar shows.

The news comes after bassist and co-founder of the band Simmons teased that Kiss might continue beyond their farewell tour in ways that “even I haven’t thought of”.

The digital revolution of performing through an avatar has become increasingly common in the music industry, but not all pop stars have expressed interest in going down this route.

Speaking about the possibility of a new tour last week, Cher said resolutely that she would never do an ABBA Voyage-style hologram concert.

The 77-year-old singer and actress said: “I’ve worked my whole life to be who I am and I don’t want some machine doing me.”

Similarly, when Dolly Parton was quizzed over whether she would be resurrecting her younger self for a virtual concert, the country star said: “I think I’ve left a great body of work behind.

“I have to decide how much of that hi-tech stuff I want to be involved [with] because I don’t want to leave my soul here on this earth.”