HMV Forum. London

“Help for Heroes” On Off Charity Gig


I arrive at the Forum at midday as my assignment is to shoot photo’s of the set up for a production piece on the difficulties of setting up the stadium KISS show in a tiny venue, apparently the smallest they’ve played in 40 years.

Armed with my Triple A guest pass I enter what can only be described as organised chaos, the whole ground floor of the Forum is covered in flight cases, staging, lighting and gear.


Out of the chaos eventually grew a scaled down version of the set and it was indeed a magic moment when the famous KISS logo was lit for the first time. For me, the band turning up for soundcheck (sans make-up) was the best part of the whole day, as it felt such a privilege to hear them run through “Hell or Hallelujah” in an empty auditorium. Despite the in-house sound engineer telling me I’d have to stop shooting when the band arrived or they’d “close me down”, they actually turned out to be very un-diva’ish. There was good natured banter and I was allowed to carry on shooting from the balcony, while Gene used roadcrew and us as target practice for his pick throwing (thanks Gene I’ll treasure them always!). Just before the doors opened Gene, Paul, Eric and Tommy in full costume left the Forum by the main door and did a “walkabout” through the waiting fans round to the stage door.


It soon became clear that the pit was going to be a crush as more than 40 photographers squeezed into the narrow space. The auditorium also reached crush capacity with hardcore KISS fans, Pauls predominating, closely followed by Genes and a smattering of Erics and Tommys. The anticipation became palpable and the fans started the chant. As the KISS curtain drifted to the floor, lights, explosions and Gene Simmons appearing 3 feet in front of me was a signal for furious clicking to try and get pic’s while they got the party started with “Detroit Rock City”.


Paul reminded everyone why they were here, to support Help for Heroes, soldiers injured fighting the freedoms that enabled bands like KISS to exist. Then they launched into new single “Hell or Hallelujah”. Make no mistake, everyone knows KISS are consummate showmen, but they are also professional in the extreme, their treatment of the photographers was evidence of that. Limited to 2 songs, and a jammed pit, the KISS boys ensured everyone had a chance at a shot, moving from one side of the stage to the other and playing in true KISS style to the cameras making sure everyone got the “money shot”. Means nothing to an audience but it is an indication of what a very classy act they are and very appreciated by the photographers!


Accompanied by “Deuce” I fought my way through the fans to join the Lighting Tech guys up in the “gods” to get some wide shots, only to be met by a wall of unbelievable heat. Rocking through “Shout It Out Loud” and “Making Love” the temperature in the theatre was steadily rising as they launched into “I Love It Loud” accompanied by the KISS Army Choir. “Shock Me” was the song for the guitar solo’s. Neither Tommy or Paul are “guitar heroes” in the sense of the word, but you’d be missing the point if you criticised them for that, KISS are a whole entity, they deliver the solid riffs that are the trademark of the KISS repertoire, and they don’t need fancy fretwork to do that. “100,000 Years” and you could barely see the stage as the steam was literally rising, Eric’s drumming started to take on a jungle drums in the rainforest like quality. ‘Love Gun’ up next, and by this time the audience were drenched in sweat but singing up a storm. Finishing up with Back Diamond, perhaps not the best delivery ever, but by then nobody cared. My camera could no longer focus through the steam and I’d got all the shots I needed so I put the it down, stopped “working” and just enjoyed being a KISS fan for the encores. “Crazy Crazy Nights” was decidedly iffy in places, but by then the conditions were unbelievable and no-one cared anyway. The Kiss Army took over for the intro to “Lick It Up” and true to the KISS attitude of “too much is never enough” they pumped up the heat, literally, with 15 foot flame columns.


And finally, as the first chords of “Rock and Roll All Night” began, it seemed like the whole world exploded in front of me as the confetti canons fired and the stage, the audience and even the walls disappeared in a blizzard of paper. The Lighting Techs gave up as they could no longer see through sweat and confetti. At this point the pyro’s and flame columns joined the party and the whole house started well and truly rocking as the mayhem cranked up to 11. And did we stand there looking too cool to clap? You bet your sweet ass we didn’t! Funny, I read a really scathing review of this gig in the Evening Standard, you have to question if the reviewer was at the same place. Gene and Paul are in their 60’s yes but they have been around long enough that they have gone through the naff all the way back round to cool. If they were British, lets face it they’d be “National Treasures”. Was it perfectly executed? No, it was scrappy in places, but that’s a live show. Was it the best 4th July night out anyone had anywhere on the planet? Hell Yes! And if you weren’t there and wish you had been, here’s a link to You Tube Playlist of the HMV Forum Show in set list order, because I’m good like that!

YouTube SetList

Set List
Detroit Rock City
Hell or Hallelujah
Makin Love
I Love It Loud
Shock Me
Calling Dr Love
100,000 Years
Love Gun
Black Diamond


Crazy Crazy Nights
Lick It Up
Rock an Roll All Night



Review & Pictures by Helen Bradley Owers.