REVIEW: KISS – Kiss Rocks Vegas (3 CD/1 Blu-ray Japanese import)

Two reviews for the price of none! For Deke’s review of Kiss Rocks Vegas, click here!

NEW RELEASE

KISS – Kiss Rocks Vegas (3 CD/1 Blu-ray Japanese import, 2016 Eagle Rock)

Kiss put on a hell of a show for their nine gig run in Las Vegas.  You could argue that spectacle is 50% of the Kiss experience.  That said, the audio has to hold up, and it does.  I gave it two spins before review: one at home and one in the car, and only after that did I put on the Blu-ray.  As expected, Paul Stanley’s voice is the chink in the armour.  But it is the only one.  This is one of the most musically capable versions of Kiss ever, and vocally they can’t be touched.  When Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer, and Gene Simmons start to harmonize together, it becomes a far stronger beast.  This is how Kiss have adapted to Paul’s current vocal shortcomings, and on a whole it works.  Check out “Tears Are Falling” for a version of a song that gets a serious boost thanks to these guys singing backup.  Now get ready to rock for the next 80 minutes.  Of note, some of Paul’s stage raps are trimmed for time on the CD version, as is Gene’s “bass solo”/blood spitting/flying.  The video has the whole enchilada.

The audio is clear; Gene’s bass nicely audible and in the pocket.  With the 5.1 surround sound cranked, let’s dive into the Kiss Blu-ray, a fine shining example of hi-def rock video.  You can try to count the sparkles on Paul’s guitar, when they open with “Detroit Rock City”.  Their stage looks like a cross between the Creatures-era tank stage and a Dalek.  Giant screens ensure everybody gets a good view, which is a good thing since there is so much going on.  From “Detroit” into “Creatures” itself,  and then “Psycho Circus”, Kiss started the show with three of their classic openers from three different eras!  On screen it’s clear Paul Stanley is still in excellent physical shape.  He doesn’t look like someone who’s had a double hip replacement.   He hops around a bit, plays guitar between his legs, and dances up a storm as always.

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Kudos must be given to Tommy Thayer, who takes many of the flashier solos from 80’s Kiss and adapts them to the style of the 70’s that Kiss tend to ply most.  Tommy’s re-imagining of guitar solos and giving them a Frehley-like vibe is one reason to check out new live versions of these Kiss classics.  Never to be underrated is Eric Singer, a talent to be reckoned with in this band.  His beats are always perfect, but so is his voice.  As usual, he sings “Black Diamond” towards the end of the show, with respect and class.

Other setlist highlights:

Gene’s “War Machine” from Creatures (Gene blows fire at the end).  Paul’s “Tears are Falling” from Asylum (“Some of you weren’t born in 1985!” says Paul, accurately observing his audience).   “Lick It Up”, featuring Kiss’ sometimes-segue into “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.  “Hell or Hallelujah”, from Monster.  “God of Thunder” with its flying Gene, and playing way up high on a tiny little platform.  Paul running out to sing on a catwalk suspended over the crowd on “Love Gun”.  All of this is served up with lights, lasers, explosions, levitating platforms and larger-than-life sparkle.  Kiss still deliver it.

Admittedly, when there is so much great live Kiss from the past out there, it’s hard to get excited about a new one.  (Why watch a 2016 live version of “War Machine” when you can watch one from 1983, 1984, 1988 or 2004?)  The added bonus that makes the whole thing hard to say no to is a seven song acoustic set.  This is a makeup-free event in a packed conference room.  A few more rarities are served up here, such as “Love Her All I Can”.  The loose atmosphere is refreshing.  They goof around a bit on “Christine Sixteen” (in harmony!) and Paul helps with some forgotten words on “Goin’ Blind”.  Just don’t go and compare these with the acoustic ones on MTV Unplugged.  That was 20 years ago.  Controversially, Eric sings “Beth”.  The mitigating factor is that this is a small event for fans and not part of the main Vegas concert.  It’s worthwhile to get a version of this release that contains the acoustic portion on the bonus CD.

The Japanese release is an interesting one.  Instead of one CD, the Vegas concert is split over two.  This is probably because the concert is close to the 80 minimum maximum that a CD can hold, and the Japanese usually adhere to a higher manufacturing standard.  They also included a nice T-shirt in a shiny, embossed box.

As usual, any time Kiss release new product, fans will bitch that they’re over the hill.  They’ll complain that there are only two original members left, and that Paul’s voice is but a shadow of what it once was.  While these things are indeed true, Kiss have found a way to continue on with two talented members helping Paul out with the vocal burden.  If you don’t like it, fair play.  But let the rest of us continue to enjoy Kiss without your negativity.

3.5/5 stars

CD 1
1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “Creatures of the Night”
3. “Psycho Circus”
4. “Parasite”
5. “War Machine”
6. “Tears are Falling”
7. “Deuce”
8. “Lick it Up”
9. “I Love it Loud”

CD 2
1. “Hell or Hallelujah”
2. Tommy guitar solo
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Do You Love Me?”
5. “Love Gun”
6. “Black Diamond”
7. “Shout it Out Loud”
8. “Rock and Roll All Night”

CD 3 – Kiss Acoustic
1. “Comin’ 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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35 comments

  1. Nice write up, Mike. I guess this is one for the fans, rather than those with a passing interest? Live releases can be tricky at the best of times – always a danger of going beyond the saturation point with songs and there’s the added ‘diminishing returns’ factor when you can hear the decline in performance. Especially with a band going as long as Kiss.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. They are, in my opinion, the best ones to get to hear Kiss in their prime. But they transformed into a different band in the 90’s — going from our discussion yesterday. Like all hard rock bands, they were influenced by grunge. One of their most technical albums musically was their grunge album produced by Toby Wright!

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        2. Toby Wright’s moment of awesome was Alice In Chains’ self-titled album. Such a great sounding album.

          I’m considering a post off the back of that conversation, y’know.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I will say this for grunge though:

          I was far far more attracted to grunge girls than metal girls.

          This may or may not have been a factor in me buying my first Alice in Chains album.

          Like

        4. Maybe it’s me talking about Freud in today’s post, but I have a theory. And it’s actually plausible.

          It’s entirely possible that my resentment of grunge stems from my inability to land a cool grunge girl due to the fact that I was listening to Winger!!!!!

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  2. Good review Mikey! Kinda cool that were on the same page as in regards to certain songs being played for a change and the audio being a decent mix.
    I would have given this a 4 as it does sound like a live album coming from the KISS Camp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deke! I’m updated with a link to yours.

      Kudos for Kiss doing another decent live album. First official one in a little while too.

      Now it’s time to look forward to another studio album. I think it’s going to happen!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucky that Japan has the same blu ray region code as North America.
    I may buy this down the road if I find it used.
    With Paul’s voice going I am glad it still got a 3.5.

    P.S. You didn’t want the $385 version with a parka?

    ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Negativity? Man, those same people yap about the Stones. I’m with you, leave the rest of us alone if you don’t wanna join in!

    I’ve gotta hand it to KISS. They keep on plugging along. This is a great post about a really cool package. I don’t own any live KISS records and just assumed I oughta get the Alive stuff first. I dunno if I’d need this one! But still, how exciting is it that there’s new KISS live stuff in 2016? And it’s still a 3.5/5? Right on.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. VERY NICE. I only have one PJ official bootleg. I picked this one because during “Do the Evolution”, Eddie Vedder sings “My name is George Bush and my son is an asshole.” HAHAH.

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  5. I quite like your closing statement Mike, check the negativity at the door.
    It’s the curse of having to compete with an younger version of yourself.
    I remember people moaning about Gretzky towards the end of his career, he was ‘washed up’ etc. – he was still leading the league in assists, let the man play!

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  6. Solid review Mike! I love how you described the way the other members are helping out Paul Stanley, very accurate. The backing vocals might just be the best part about KISS Rocks Vegas, like you said Tears Are Falling is the best example of this. The Japanese set looks great too!

    Liked by 1 person

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