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A deathly deal sealed with a Kiss

In the run-up to last December's wonderful Paul McCartney gig at the O2, one particular travel package caught the imagination of us more mischievous punters.

For the princely sum of just over €1,000, one could spend the night in a nice hotel near the venue, be sure of a nice nosebag, have access to premium seats and-- this is the killer -- receive a monogrammed blanket as part of a souvenir set. Obviously, should you have been feeling a bit chilly while Macca was tearing his way through Helter Skelter or I'm Down you'd be glad of a nice piece of wool to place across your lap, but even the mighty McCartney is only in the ha'penny place compared to the way Kiss have exploited the devotion and, some would say, gullibility of their fanbase.

Always more of a brand than a band, Kiss's energies have traditionally been focused on extracting the maximum wedge from their followers. Indeed, the New York-based cartoon metallers were once memorably described in an NME review as possibly being the only band in the world who take their melody lines from the drummer, but in terms of gulling bucks from their punters they're world class.

On the current Sonic Boom Over Europe tour Kiss fanatics can purchase a VIP package, which for the Dublin date clocks in at just over a grand, and guarantees such delights as a meet'n'greet with the band, signed photographs, T-shirts, programmes and customised plectrums.

Such crass commercialism shouldn't really come as a surprise given that, over the years, Kiss have flogged anything they thought they'd get a few bucks for. A comic book, plastic figurines, Kiss Cola, golf bags and condoms are only the tip of the iceberg and that's on top of the standard T-shirts and posters stock which makes up their main source of revenue.

Still, one does have to admire the sheer chutzpah of an outfit who had the temerity to market the 'Kiss casket' -- a specially designed coffin adorned with Kiss logos. Even kings of greed The Rolling Stones, an organisation who ceased to give a damn about music about three decades ago and have been trading on their self-anointed title of 'the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world' ever since, couldn't have come up with that one.

At least Kiss founder Gene Simmons has been upfront about the music, such as it is, being merely a front for the circus-like show and the show itself being the forum for the opportunity to sell any old rubbish carrying the logo.

Take away the whizz-bang effects of Kiss's live show and you're left with bog-standard glam metal which doesn't pass muster by any standards, which, weirdly enough, actually makes their merchandising more entertaining than the music.

Kiss play the O2 tomorrow night