Who could've guessed that the last big rock show we'd see in over a year would be one that felt like a leftover from 40 years earlier?
Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Minnesota's final arena concert before the COVID-19 lockdown: Kiss and David Lee Roth at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 24, 2020. What a goofy one to end on.
Not counting the face paint worn by Kiss fans or the plastic surgery displayed by the frontmen on stage, there were no masks at the show. Aside from everyone staying a safe length away from Gene Simmons' tongue and codpiece, there was no social distancing. The only talk of anyone getting a shot to avoid disease was probably among former groupies who caught the rock legends' earliest Twin Cities shows.
Per our review of the loud and explosive '70s-rock twofer, the arena was only about half-full; whereas entertainment-famished fans would probably pack the place now if it were safe. Kiss had already come around once and wasn't changing things up much on their End of the Road tour, which now — thanks to postponements due to be made up after the pandemic — is sure to become the longest goodbye in rock history.
Twin Cities music lovers who made the show took to social media on Wednesday to re-post their memories of it.
Local drummer and record retailer Erik Mathison posted on Facebook, "I wracked my brain and figured I haven't gone this long in between shows since I was 12 years old."
Bill Childs, a kids-music promoter, also said on Facebook, "It will never not be weird to me that the last show I saw in the Before Times was Kiss with David Lee Roth opening."
In hindsight, the concert does carry a high level of bittersweetness beyond the fact it would be the last for so long.
Before coming to town, Roth talked to the Star Tribune about his love for his former Van Halen bandmates, particularly guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, who would die eight months later from cancer.
"Ed, God bless him, may have a fair amount of time ahead of him, but going out on the road is an unforgiving task," Roth said, explaining why touring with Van Halen wasn't an option in 2020. No surprise the singer had to enlist two guitarists to try to fill in for Eddie in his solo road show, which was mostly made up of old VH songs. (A for effort, anyway.)
Xcel Center, which had been the last place Roth and Van Halen appeared together in town in 2012, was due to host two more concerts two weeks later when the industry came to an abrupt halt. Both the Lumineers gig on March 13 and Jason Aldean on March 14 were canceled with just one day's notice. Aldean eventually canceled all his tour dates, but the Lumineers are part of that ever-growing black hole of concert dates still in limbo without a set makeup date.
Look for updates on all the postponed arena and stadium concerts to start coming together in the late spring, when promoters have a better idea whether or not the vaccine rollout and declining virus rates will allow tours to resume before the end of 2021.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658