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The Wild Things, Skindred, and KISS shake the AO Arena with an epic night of rock mastery

Electric, exhilarating, and unforgettable - the AO Arena in Manchester was transformed into a rock 'n' roll extravaganza on Friday 7th June as three powerhouse acts took the stage: The Wild Things, Skindred, and the legendary Kiss.

From the raw energy and impressive rock prowess of The Wild Things to Skindred’s genre-bending fusion of reggae, metal, and punk, and culminating in Kiss’s showmanship and mastery of the stage, it was a night that will be long remembered.

The atmosphere was electric, the performances were awe-inspiring, and the crowd left hoping that its not the last time they will see KISS.

Supposedly, this is KISS last ever World tour, that is well, since their last one in 2017.

The final curtain call is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2023 — more than 50 years after the iconic band’s first show.

100m records sold later, here we are to see them for their sixth performance in Manchester.

The Wild Things

Opening for the Who? Check. First US gig at Madison Square Garden. Check. Lead Singer in a popular Netflix drama as a leading actor? Check.

The Wild Things come with an impressive CV for an established band, never mind one just embarking on their second album, produced by none other than the legendary Who frontman, Pete Townshend.

Opening the electrifying night at the AO Arena in Manchester, The Wild Things set the bar high with their raw energy and impressive rock prowess.

Embracing a classic rock sound, the audience was straight into it.

As the massive stage at the AO Arena came to life, the powerful sounds of Heaven Knows fill the air, signalling the arrival of The Wild Things.

Singer Sydney Rae White takes the stage dressed like a star straight out of Mad Max, exuding confidence and energy.

Her remarkable voice fills the arena as she bounds around, captivating the audience with her electric performance.

The band’s infectious organ licks and punchy riffs provide a solid foundation for their wonderfully catchy songs. It’s no surprise that their perennial set closer, Drunk Again, leaves a lasting impression.

White playfully remarks, “I hope this is what you’ll all be like by the end of the night… if you’re into that.

Speaking to the band ahead of their opening slot for Legends Kiss, lead singer Sydney spoke to I Love MCR about their new record.

“We don’t want to call it a concept album, but it’s more of a choose-your-own-adventure album!

“It’s about a fictional town called Valentine, so you can sort of listen to the songs in any order you like and piece together your own story.

“Pete’s [Townshend’s] influence was incredible. No matter what you think of him, he’s a genius and to have him on hand for advice was crazy.

“With a background in acting, we try to recreate that dynamism on stage and rock that stage persona’s probably a bit like Kiss to be honest. We’re all characters we play, right?”

And Sydney’s stage persona certainly takes care of business on the stage, working the crowd up into a frenzy with her infectious energy, a perfect opening for the frenetic night ahead.

When asked about their collaboration with Kiss, Sydney couldn’t hide their excitement.

They recounted the unexpected opportunity to perform on the Kiss cruise and the subsequent invitation to join the band on their UK tour.

Sydney expressed their admiration for Kiss as rock and roll legends and how the band’s showmanship and stage presence have been influential in their performances.

Delving into their connection with the city of Manchester, Sydney spoke fondly of the incredible energy in both Manchester’s music and food scenes.

While they lamented not being able to spend as much time in the city as they would like, Sydney emphasised the friendliness and welcoming attitude they have encountered, contrasting it with the sometimes overwhelming nature of London.

The band’s strong ties to the area, with family residing in the Manchester-Liverpool region, make it a place they feel at home.

The Wild things are heading back to Manchester later this year, and you can get tickets to see them by clicking here. 

These lot are definitely one to keep your eyes on, and we have no doubt they will be headlining their own massive shows sometime in the near future.


Next up was Skindred, a band that effortlessly blends reggae, metal, and punk to create a truly unique and exhilarating sound.

Their performance was thrilling, leaving the audience in awe and laying down a marker for KISS.

Lead singer Benji Webbe’s charisma was infectious, warming up the crowd and setting the perfect tone for the main act.

Skindred’s music still feels fresh after two decades, a testament to their talent and ability to transcend genres.

Amidst their crunching nu-metal style riffs, Skindred introduced a moment of respite with their new track L.O.V.E. (Smile Please).

The ska-metal vibe and message of positivity were beautifully showcased. Lead singer Benji Webbe stood out in his all-black attire, adorned with a sparkly tie and shoes, adding a flair to his look.

It seemed like he had made a detour to Afflecks Palace during his stay in Manchester.

Mikey Demus on guitar channelled his inner Billy Gibbons, while Arya Goggin’s drumming and Daniel Pugsley’s bass playing kept the rhythm low and dirty.

Having been in the music scene since 1998, Skindred deservedly secured their slot at the AO Arena.

Their upcoming 8th album, Smile, set to release in August 2023, was well-represented in their setlist.

Set Fazers opened the set, giving fans a taste of what was to come. And Gimme That Boom served as a powerful bookend towards the end.

Intermingled with their newer songs were beloved old favourites, and Webbe masterfully worked the crowd like a veteran master of ceremonies.

With his unique charisma and humour, he had the sides of the audience competing with each other, creating a joyful atmosphere.

The crowd’s enthusiasm was palpable, with many fans proudly sporting Skindred shirts.

A cheeky cover mashup of Van Halen’s Jump and House of Pain’s Jump Around provided a fun interlude between That’s My Jam and Kill The Power.

The latter, a fist-pumping anthem, showcased Skindred’s signature sound. And for their closing salvo, they unleashed the timeless Warning, complete with the infamous “Newport Helicopter.”

Webbe instructed the crowd to hold an item of clothing above their heads and spin it on his count.

The response was overwhelming as plenty of fans happily obliged.

The band exited the stage to Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better, a stone cold classic.

Carly got it right about Skindred: nobody does it quite like them.

Skindred’s success was undeniable, and they proved once again why they should never change.


And then, the moment everyone had been waiting for: Kiss took the stage in a whirlwind of guitars, fireworks, and flamethrowers.

Does anybody do it better? There aren’t many bands that can hold a torch to KISS.

The group thunder-bolted on to the stage, unleashing a whirlwind of guitars, fireworks, and flamethrowers.

With over 50 years of captivating audiences worldwide, KISS has set the benchmark for shock, glam, and hard rock.

Their last-ever tour in the UK proved to be a masterclass in showmanship and musicianship, leaving the crowd in awe (and maybe slightly singed by the flamethrowers).

From the mind-boggling scale of their performance to the sheer energy of their music, KISS reminded us all why they are the legends of the rock ‘n’ roll genre.

For over 50 years, they have been the benchmark of shock/glam/hard rock.

Their stage antics are things of legend, and their songs go further than that.

From the iconic Detroit Rock City to the anthem Rock and Roll All Nite, Kiss delivered hit after hit, reminding us why they are legends of the rock ‘n’ roll genre.

But Kiss is not just about spectacle; their musicianship is truly awe-inspiring.

Paul Stanley’s powerful and clear voice soared through the arena, accompanied by the band’s expertly crafted melodies.

The stage banter was cheeky and playful, adding to the overall enjoyment of the show as the band rilled the crowd up with shouts of ‘MAN – CHEST -AH!’.

The band’s commitment to giving their all was evident in their relentless energy and the multitude of solos throughout the set. The energy was incredible, given their advanced age.

Each member had their shining moment, showcasing their skills on various instruments while defying gravity on hydraulic lifts and acrobat hoops.

Kiss spared no expense in creating a memorable experience for their fans.

As the show reached its grand finale with Black Diamond, Paul Stanley soared above the audience, captivating everyone’s attention as he sailed across the arena onto a podium on some sort of high wire.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Eric Singer emerged from the floor, serenading the crowd with a beautiful rendition of the ballad Beth.

By the time they reached I Was Made For Lovin’ You and closed with Rock and Roll All Nite, the entire arena was on its feet, immersed in a confetti-filled frenzy.

Kiss’s performance was a triumphant culmination of a truly bonkers, glorious and unforgettable night.

In the end, the End of the Road tour may not be their last, but Kiss proved once again why they are rock ‘n’ roll legends.

Their showmanship, musical prowess, and undeniable energy left the audience in awe.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual listener, a Kiss concert is an experience that should not be missed.

And it Just might be the last time you get to see them!

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

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