Behind The Scenes – Kiss 97

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We go back in time… with Ivona Bogner

Ater years of chaos in Serbia, it was clear we will wait for so long till we hear any foreign band live, so as metal. I guess no one would be that crazy to play in the country where you never know when the new war will begin, in the country where people can′t buy food, so buying concert ticket in that condition is close to insanity.

Late night… I was listening the radio and close to dream land, I thought I heard someone said KISS is coming to Belgrade in next six month. Instantly I woke up and could not sleep at all. I just wanted to check that information. Of course, we had no internet so I was hoping someone, somehow, somewhere heard the same I did. Of course, next morning in high school I could not hear any information, cause all those ten students who looked like they were listening metal, had no idea what metal is.

Six months later, it really happened. My first show ever. ″Once Wasn′t Enough″, European leg of the ″Alive/World Tour″, Belgrade Fair, June 4, 1997. Ticket price was too high, and all I could do is to rob the bank. That was my first thought cause there was no solution to buy that ticket from my mother′s teacher salary. Dad had lost his job and we were on the edge of extinction. The concert was supposed to be held only nine days before my eighteenth birthday and I just hoped as a minor I can go alone to the concert. Of course, no one cared, but if they did, it was pretty clear I would never go to that show. I hardly found money for one ticket, not two. And I am sure, if anyone would go with me, it would be my grandfather.

Anyway, KISS supposed to play with Helmet and Motley Crue. At least, that is what medias presented to us. And from this distance, I believe they lied. To be honest, I was more excited to hear Motley Crue, but… There is always some but.

Ticket price was extremely high for the country that was recovering form hyperinflation. I had to be there! It was a matter of life and death! I asked my parents and grandparents to give me money they dedicated for my birthday earlier, so I can buy the best present ever.

My first disappointment: after I bought ticket, I saw band members were signed incorrectly (see the photo below). Come on! I payed a fortune and you gave me fake ticket!

Ivona-kiss

Week before and week after that show I just could not eat, sleep… Excitement was at highest possible level. And the day finally came.

The gates of Belgrade Fair supposed to be opened at 17:30. Hour later, we knew something is wrong. Nervous… The gates were finally opened at 7PM. By than, we already knew: no Motley Crue, no Helmet… Another disappointment! We were too tired so no one cared. Support bands were Die Ӓrzte and Moonspell. It was hot summer day, mostly fans were exhausted and no one was interested to hear support bands. When Moonspell finished their set, we all rushed to the front line. Belgrade Fair capacity is 20,000 people. Will I surprise or disappoint you if I say that the Hall was almost empty?

I was in 5th row. Damn! I can′t see anything! Some guy saw me desperately jumping around and asked me where do I come from. ″Zemun″, I mumbled. ″I served army in Zemun!″ In a blink of an eye, I was in the front line by kindness of his brother. All I know is that they were from Slovenia. If they read this and remember small girl from Belgrade, thank you from the bottom of my old metal heart!

In front of me was security guy with tons of wires around his head. That man looked like he just escaped from EEG! As I will find out years later that mafia boss and paramilitary leader was somehow in charge for concert security and blackmailed KISS by 5000 Deutsch Marks. The lights on Belgrade airport were shut down, so the band just could not leave the country if they do not pay. At the end, management gave the money so they were free to leave this hole in Europe. No matter if this story is real or only urban legend, I just hope that man burns in hell for all the crimes he committed and I pray to Metal Gods send him DIO, Lemmy, or Dimebag, to spice up his eternity.

″Once Wasn′t Enough″ was also known as the ″Reunion Tour″, the first tour with original band members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley since 1979. The big black flag with KISS logo felt on the stage and the madness begun with ″Deuce″. I almost died when I saw Gene Simmons in front of me. As crazy as I am, I remember it just crossed my mind: ″Is it possible he has cellulite?″ Stop, Ivona, stop! Focus on music! And the hardest was to focus on music. There is so much going on the stage, so focusing on music was close to mission impossible. Of course, 22 years after that show, it is impossible to remember all songs they played, but some fragments had left. For me, the highlights of the show were:

1. Ace sung ″Shock Me″
2. Paul should fly over the crowd during the ″Love Gun″, maybe the first and last time in KISS history he did not make it as planned. When he realized he would fly over empty hall, he signalized to bring them back on stage.
3.Bet (Gene) out of hell! ″God of Thunder″, blood spitting, ecstasy!
4. Performing ″Beth″, Peter Criss showed us drummers and cats can sing too.

History repeats, they say… KISS supposed to play once again in Belgrade in 2008. You would say after so many wars, people in Balkans became smarter, but never say never. KISS agent realised that coming to Serbia once again and make same old mistake is not an option. So, they cancelled show due political situation (elections) and security reasons. Sounds familiar?

Organizers stated:
The members of the band regret to inform you that the concert has to be cancelled, but the situation in Serbia does not leave them much choice. However, they hope they will perform in Serbia on some other occasion. The management of the popular American hard rock band did not explain the reasons, nor what exactly happened during their stay in Belgrade.

If I would ever have a chance to ask Gene or Paul only one question, than I know what that question would be.

Till my next column, I wish you all Rock and Roll all night and party every day!

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