How does a band sum up a nearly five-decade roller coaster of a career in just two hours? That's the dilemma now facing Kiss as they prepare to launch their farewell End of the Road tour. To help them out, we asked five of our writers to create their own set lists for the show. They also offer their thoughts on which songs have worn out their welcome in recent years, and which are long overdue for a return to the stage.

If you were in charge of choosing Kiss’ End of the Road set list, which 20 songs would you choose? Keep in mind this is not a “personal fantasy” list, you have to pick songs that the other thousands of people in attendance will enjoy.

Mitch Lafon (Host of Westwood One’s Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon):
"Rock and Roll All Nite" / "Deuce" / "Got to Choose" / "C’mon and Love Me" / "King of the Night Time World" / "Hard Luck Woman" (Eric Singer vocal) / "I Stole Your Love" / "2000 Man" (Tommy Thayer vocal) / "Creatures of the Night" / "Lick It Up" / "A Million to One" / "Crazy Crazy Nights" / "Unholy" / "Psycho Circus" / "War Machine" / "Love Gun" / "I Was Made for Loving You" / "Detroit Rock City" / "Master And Slave" / "Parasite"

Joe DiVita: Listed alphabetically: "All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose" / "Black Diamond" / "Calling Dr. Love" / "Cold Gin" / "Creatures of the Night" / "Detroit Rock City" / "Deuce" / "God of Thunder" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You" / "I Was Made for Lovin' You" / "Let’s Put the X in Sex" / "Lick It Up" / "Love Gun" / "Plaster Caster" / "Rock and Roll All Nite" / "She" / "Shout It out Loud" / "Strutter" / "Tears Are Falling"

Matt Wardlaw: "Detroit Rock City" / "Love Gun" / "Cold Gin" / "Shout It out Loud" / "Christine Sixteen" / "Do You Love Me" / "Strutter" / "I Love It Loud" / "Got to Choose" / "Watchin’ You" / "Firehouse" / "I Was Made for Lovin' You' / "Calling Dr. Love" / "Rock Bottom" / "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" / "God of Thunder" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "Deuce" /"Beth" / "Rock and Roll All Nite"

I look back at the set list Kiss were playing on the reunion tour in 1996, which was surprisingly adventurous in retrospect compared with the one that they’ve been playing in recent years. With that in mind, I think it’s possible to concoct a set that is a proper career overview for a farewell tour (similar to what Elton John has been doing on his current tour) while still making room for a few surprises.

Michael Christopher: "Detroit Rock City" / "Deuce" / "War Machine" / "Strutter" / "Nothin’ to Lose" / "Hotter Than Hell' / "God of Thunder" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "Shout It Out Loud" / "Cold Gin" / "Forever" / "I Want You" / "Firehouse" / "Unholy" / "I Stole Your Love" / "Christine Sixteen" / "Lick It Up" / "Rock and Roll All Nite" / "Tears Are Falling" / "Black Diamond"

Matthew Wilkening: "Deuce" / "Got to Choose" / "Shout it Out Loud" / "Parasite" / "Hotter Than Hell" / "Firehouse" / "I Love It Loud" / "Detroit Rock City" / "God of Thunder" / "Lick It Up" / "Watchin' You" / "Modern Day Delilah" / "Cold Gin" / "100,000 Years" / "Do You Love Me" / "Love Gun" / "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II" / "Black Diamond" / "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" / "Rock and Roll All Nite"

What 20 songs do you think they’ll play, and what are the main differences between your set list and theirs? (Additions in bold) 

Lafon: "Deuce" / "Rock and Roll All Nite" / "Detroit Rock City" / "Shout It Out Loud" / "Lick It Up" / "Firehouse" / "100,000 Years" / "Say Yeah" / "Psycho Circus" / "Flaming Youth" / "Crazy Crazy Nights" "War Machine" / "I Love It Loud" / "Black Diamond" / "Shock Me" / "I Was Made for Lovin' You" / "Love Gun" / "Unholy" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "Do You Love Me"

Removed: "Got to Choose" / "C’mon and Love Me" / "King of the Night Time World" / "Hard Luck Woman" / "I Stole Your Love" / "2000 Man" / "Creatures of the Night" / "A Million to One" / "Master And Slave" / "Parasite"

DiVita: "Beth" / "Black Diamond" / "Calling Dr. Love" / "Cold Gin" / "Creatures of the Night" / "Detroit Rock City" / "Deuce" / "Flaming Youth" / "God of Thunder" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "I Love It Loud" / "I Was Made for Lovin' You" / "Let’s Put the X in Sex" / "Lick It Up" / "Love Gun" / "Rock and Roll All Nite" / "Shock Me" / "Shout It out Loud" / "Strutter" / "War Machine"

Removed: "All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose" / "I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You" / "Plaster Caster" / "She' / "Tears are Falling"

Of course they'll eschew those great '80s sing-alongs. Paul Stanley over-sang on a lot of that material, so they're practical exclusions. For how dangerous their shows are, their set lists are usually safe. If you're embarking on a farewell tour and want to be remembered as immortal, why not play a song about immortalization with "Plaster Caster"?

Wardlaw: "Deuce" / "Shout It Out Loud" / "Cold Gin" / "Firehouse" / "Shock Me" / "I Love It Loud" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "Creatures of the Night" / "Modern Day Delilah" / "Love Gun" / "God of Thunder" / "I Was Made For Lovin' You" / "Lick It Up" / "Flaming Youth" / "King of the Night Time World" / "Beth" / "Calling Dr. Love" / "Strutter" / "Crazy Crazy Nights" / "Rock and Roll All Nite"

Removed: "Detroit Rock City" / "Love Gun" / "Christine Sixteen" / "Do You Love Me" / "Strutter" /  "Got to Choose" / "Watchin’ You" /  "Rock Bottom" / "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll"

I stuck in “Modern Day Delilah” because it seems likely that they’ll want to have something from the last couple of albums represented. Knowing that they’re playing to the masses, both set lists keep the familiar material in mind. If this is the last time that you’ll get to see Kiss, or your first time, they’re going to want to make sure the classic Kiss set list moments are present and accounted for. “Crazy Crazy Nights” seems like a possible inclusion somewhere in the set list since it’s the lead track on the latest Kiss compilation, so why not put it in the lead slot of the encore?

Christopher: "Detroit Rock City" / "Cold Gin' / "War Machine" / "Love Gun" / "Firehouse" / "Lick It Up" / "God of Thunder" / "I Was Made for Lovin’ You" / "Hotter Than Hell" / "Shock Me" / "Say Yeah" / "Crazy Crazy Nights" / "Psycho Circus" / "Calling Dr. Love" / "Deuce" / "Flaming Youth" / "I Love It Loud" / "Black Diamond" / "Shout It Out Loud" / "Rock and Roll All Nite"

Removed: "Strutter" / "Nothin’ to Lose" / "Heaven’s on Fire" / "Forever" / "I Want You" / "Unholy" / "I Stole Your Love" / "Christine Sixteen" / "Tears Are Falling"

One difference in my set list is a deeper appreciation of the band’s '80s and early '90s material -- not just for the sake of having it in there, but also making it mean something. Kiss are calling it a day – “Tears Are Falling” fits the mood. “Forever” hasn’t been performed in some time; it’s a ballad the original singer – Stanley in this case – can do on the tour, as opposed to “Beth,” and it’s lyrically appropriate for the trek. Finally, it’s almost a given the group will go out with their best-known song, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” but ending the show with “Black Diamond” – which was done as recently as Australia in 2013 and on the Psycho Circus tour before that – is something hardcore fans will surely appreciate, bringing it back to the final song on the first album.

Wilkening: "Deuce" / "Shout it Out Loud" / "Parasite" / "Hotter Than Hell" / "Firehouse" / "I Love It Loud" / "Detroit Rock City" / "God of Thunder" / "Lick It Up" / "Watchin' You" / "Psycho Circus" / "Cold Gin" / "Heaven's on Fire" /  "100,000 Years" / "Do You Love Me" / "Love Gun" / "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II" / "Black Diamond" / "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" / "Rock and Roll All Nite"

Removed: "Modern Day Delilah" and "Got to Choose." "Circus" has taken "Delilah"'s "Here's what we've done recently" spot on recent tours, and "Heaven's on Fire" seems to have earned a permanent home as well.

Which Kiss song or songs should be retired from their live shows, and why?

Lafon: "Shock Me" (Tommy Thayer does it justice, but it’s Ace Frehley’s signature track), "Shout It Out Loud" (great song, but it’s been in every set since the dawn of time), "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II"  (I'm simply not a fan) and "Christine Sixteen" (it’s a tad creepy given everyone’s age now).

DiVita: "I Love It Loud," even though it's far from their biggest hit and even further from the best song on Creatures of the Night (that's a toss-up between the title track and "Danger").

Wardlaw: That’s a really tough call. Some of the songs that are the most overplayed in the set list are the exact ones that a more casual fan is going to be excited to hear. I think that you probably have to leave the list of songs that they can’t leave the building without playing fully intact.

Christopher: Anything from the last four albums. The majority of people are coming to see the hits from their youth and don’t want to sit through “Say Yeah,” “Wall of Sound” or even “Psycho Circus.” Make the goal no bathroom breaks for the audience. Also, unless Ace Frehley is going to be a special guest, find another song for Tommy Thayer to solo rather than “Shock Me.”

Wilkening: "Heaven's on Fire" and "I Was Made for Lovin' You," which both deserved their massive chart success but never fully translated to the live setting. Same goes for "Tears Are Falling," but they seem to have been leaving that one out lately. Lastly, "Psycho Circus," which takes too long to get to its admittedly cool Destroyer throwback guitar section.

Which Kiss song or songs most need to be brought back into their live shows and why?

Lafon: "Parasite" and "C'mon and Love Me." Pure rock. Shot of adrenaline.

DiVita: Any of the speedy Paul Stanley songs from Animalize or Asylum. They completely rip, and enough time has passed where people may forget just how good those songs were. They no longer have the context of their favorite '70s rock band jumping on current '80s trends. If Judas Priest fans can come around on Turbo, the Kiss Army can salute the no-makeup era. At ease, rock soldier.

Wardlaw: I think it would be cool to see them dig deep and bring out some stuff from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Stuff like “Rise to It” and “I Just Wanna” are just a couple that come to mind. But one of the nice things about the Kiss catalog is that there are so many cool obscurities they could dig out from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. When you think about the incredible set lists they were bringing out at the acoustic convention shows in the mid-’90s, intimate concerts where they would attempt nearly anything that the fans wanted to hear, one thing that would be especially great would be if they would do an acoustic show in that vein the day before the main electric gig in certain markets. If this is truly the “end of the road” for Kiss, that would be a cool final double shot for fans.

Christopher: Putting some of the songs they’ve been routinely pulling out on Kiss Kruises would be epic. “Sure Know Something,” “Goin’ Blind,” “Hide Your Heart” and “C’mon and Love Me" should be at the top of the list.

Wilkening: There are way too many to choose from, but every Kiss show should include the entirety of Side Three from both Alive! and Alive II.

What’s the best show-starting song, "Deuce" or "Detroit Rock City"? What would be the most awesomely surprising opening song, and what would be the most terrifying opening song?

Lafon: "Deuce" for the opener. It's epic. "Rock and Roll All Nite" for the most surprising opener. The perennial closer first would be fantastic. A great way to say, "We’re here to rock and roll you all night tonight, so let’s get started." "Beth" would be an epic fail to open any show.

DiVita: That's easy, "Detroit Rock City.” You can't say, "Everybody's gonna leave their seat" 40 minutes into the set after they already have. But, hey, Stanley also sings, "First I drink, then I smoke" and he doesn't do either of those things. The most surprisingly awesome opener would be "Creatures of the Night" with the original drum intro played through the PA before the band walks out live. Terrifying? "I Was Made for Loving You." Lyrically, it could work for a farewell, expressing the symbiotic love between band and fan. With Paul Stanley being 67, this getting the a cappella bit out of the way early could prove to be a wise move, but starting the show with it would be more "doo-doo" than "doo-doo-doo-do-do-doo-doo-do-do."

Wardlaw: It’s a tough choice, but I like “Detroit Rock City” in the opening slot. It’s not necessarily surprising, since they’ve done it before in past years, but I do think that “Creatures of the Night” is a cool opener, but perhaps a bit too obscure for the fan who's coming to the show who knows only the hits. Most terrifying? Let’s have some fun. “Beth” or “I Was Made for Lovin' You” would both be pretty awful and cringe-worthy as set openers.

Christopher: “Detroit Rock City.” The building of the opening guitar line leads perfectly into the – literally – explosive start to the show. And the lyrics? “Get up! / Everybody's gonna move their feet / Get down! / Everybody's gonna leave their seat.” That’s the epitome of a rock 'n' roll concert experience right there. “Rise to It” would be amazing. The long-forgotten final single from Hot in the Shade was a letdown in the wake of the huge success of “Forever” released earlier in 1990. It’s an energetic lead-off track, and, quite frankly, it’s surprising they didn’t open with it when it came out. To kick off a show with a song that hasn’t been played in any respect for nearly three decades would be one more way Kiss would be saying they are indeed rising to the occasion of this tour. The most terrifying song to open with would be “King of the Night Time World.” Like the song or not, it doesn’t work to start off a Kiss show, and the band found when they tried that move out on the Dynasty tour in 1979. That run saw the group begin to unravel, both professionally and personally with a sharp decline in popularity and growing dissatisfaction by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley that would ultimately lead to their exit from the band. No one wants to revisit that gloomy period in Kisstory.

Wilkening: Both "Deuce" and "Detroit Rock City" are great, and perfectly represent their respective eras, so maybe for seniority "Deuce" gets the edge. "Down on Your Knees" would make a pretty awesomely jaw-dropping opening song. And the most terrifying thing they could do would be to start the show with an unplugged take on "My Way."

 

 

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