KISS – KISS Rocks Vegas (DVD via Eagle Vision)

KISS – KISS Rocks Vegas (DVD via Eagle Vision)

One of the biggest bands in American hard rock history, KI$$ have been going since the early seventies and in 2014 celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first two albums, originally released in 1974. To celebrate, in November 2014 they played a string of dates at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.  And this DVD covers the show in all its explosive glory.

Originally adorned in the renowned make up and stage gear, the band originally featured bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons, guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Paul ‘Ace’ Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. Classic glam / hard rock numbers like ‘Rock’n’Roll All Nite’ and ‘Cold Gin’ made the band stars. A change of direction or two, and a few line-up changes, the band still centres around Stanley and Simmons. Criss was replaced by Anton Fig (uncredited, 2 albums), Eric Singer then Eric Carr, and Frehley by Vinnie Vincent, then Mark St John and Bruce Kulick.

Famously losing the make-up in the early 80s and taking a more commercial direction, the original line-up reformed, with make-up, in the 90s, before issues reappeared.

The current line-up features Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer. The latter two, fine musicians in their own right, have adorned the make-up and identity of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, which understandably riles a lot of fans.

Tribute act accusations aside (although fully justified in my book), the band still put on a stage show. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s never really been that much about the music, although there are some wonderful hooks and riffs along the way (I love the pre late 80s material). When you see Kiss, certainly the make-up edition, you get fireworks, and the complete works. And then some.

Playing up to their Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame induction, the band are on good form, playing up to the camera (finger pointing, tongue wagging et al) as much as the crowd.

From the opening ‘Detroit Rock City’ you know you’re in for the full theatrics, and ‘Creatures Of The Night’ one of the best rock songs of the era.

‘Deuce’ and ‘Love Gun’ (the latter with its distinctive drum roll intro) both have fantastic riffs, and fans love the more recent ‘Psycho Circus’.

Overall Kiss’ sound has always oriented towards riffs over solos; that said, as ‘Deuce’ shows, there’s room for some excellent guitar solos. Good though Thayer is, and Paul Stanley doesn’t hold back in telling you, he’s not Ace Frehley, who was the most talented guitarist (and bassist) to pass through the band.

‘I Love It Loud’ sees the audience egged into singing along, and what better way is there to finish a show than ‘Rock’n’Roll All Nite’

Sadly nothing from Anton Figs two albums, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, especially ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, but it’s still a good set.

A genuinely one off event to be enjoyed, whether Kiss or tribute, whatever your view.

The Kiss machine continues to rock. And roll. 7.3/10

Joe Gessin

Tracklist (some tracks omitted from the CD edition)

1) Detroit Rock City

2) Creatures Of The Night

3) Psycho Circus

4) Parasite

5) War Machine

6) Tears Are Falling

7) Deuce

8) Medley: Lick It Up/Won t Get Fooled Again/Lick It Up

9) I Love It Loud

10) Hell Or Hallelujah

11) Guitar Solo

12) Bass Solo

13) God Of Thunder

14) Do You Love Me

15) Love Gun

16) Black Diamond

17) Shout It Out Load

18) Rock And Roll All Nite

19) God Gave Rock n Roll To You II (End Credits)

Bonus Acoustic

  1. Coming Home
  2. Plaster Caster
  3. Hard Luck Woman
  4. Christine Sixteen
  5. Goin’ Blind
  6. Love Her All I Can
  7. Beth
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KISS – KISS Rocks Vegas (DVD via Eagle Vision)