Review by Mark Wiechman
Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Tommy Thayer
Video: Color full screen
Features: See review
Audio: DTS, Dolby 5.1, 2.0
Studio: BMG Music
Length: Two discs, 180 minutes total
Release date: September 9, 2003
has this crazy idea to put a world renowned symphony orchestra on stage with the
most outrageous rock band in the world…who thought that an insane idea like
his would ever work? Your presence
rock split into several streams in the 1970's, with bands like Boston and
Foreigner producing slick records with hooks and crunch and less emphasis on
live shows. The Led Zeppelin was
really the last of the British blues monsters, and they reveled in live
performance as well as excellent albums which were essentially live studio
recordings. Rush has the mantle of
progressive metal all to themselves. And
then there were bands that could do all of these but added drama and makeup to
their live shows. KISS may have
resembled cartoon characters, but they could back it up with their music.
In fact, record sales were slow until the release of their first live
album, and then everyone discovered what their thousands of concert fans already
knew. They were the real thing.
distinctly remember being at a birthday party in grade school when HBO first
came to town, and a KISS concert was on. All
the gimmicks were there---the blood, the fire, and the makeup.
And even on that small TV the music was so heavy I thought the glass in
the room was in mortal danger. But
we survived, and KISS has also survived, largely due to Paul Stanley's
single-minded dedication to its music and live performances.
They have continued to record new albums regularly despite original
members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley departing.
Their recent reunion tour was a huge success, and they sound and look
just as good as they did decades ago, maybe even better because of their
reliance on great performances of great songs, and less on glitter and
showmanship. Gene Simmons admitted
once that at the height of their popularity they spent nearly a million dollars
on their stage show, but soon realized that they could have a stage set up which
cost less than a fourth of that, and no one could tell the difference.
They are a band of smart survivors.
pressed to name KISS classics I almost drew a blank because I tend to love the
long-lost British blues-rock bands more, but the classics are all here---Beth,
Strutter, I Was Made For Loving You, and of course Rock
'n Roll All Night. With an
Australian orchestra also in makeup, I was not sure what to expect, and even the
bonus interviews with the band and production people emphasizes how much work
was involved in getting this huge endeavor together in only a few days
rehearsal. Yes, that was days,
only three in fact.
this show's lineup does not include Ace Frehley, Tommy Theyer does an excellent
musical job and even has similar makeup and Les Paul guitar to fill the famous
lead guitar position. The booklet that accompanies the two disc set also lists
the Melbourne (Australia) Symphony Orchestra members, which is quite nice.
Many classical recordings do not even bother with this little "thank
should be noted that part of the show is KISS without the orchestra, as noted
ONE: The KISS Symphony Story and
ACT 3 (band with orchestra) Detroit
Rock City, King of the Night Time World, Do You Love Me, Great Expectations,
Shout it Out Loud, God of Thunder, Love Gun, I Was Made for Loving You, Black
Diamond, Rock and Roll All Nite
TWO: ACT 1: KISS w/o orchestra performing Deuce, Strutter, Let Me Go Rock
and Roll, Lick it Up, Calling Dr. Love, Psycho Circus. ACT 2: with
orchestra Beth, Forever, Goin’ Blind, Sure Know Something, Shandi. ACT 3 (same
as Disc One)
crisp, clear picture and camera angles which are not too jumpy make it work.
Not an easy job to get close-ups of the orchestra members and the band
too. No flaws that I could
see in the bonus footage or concert.
is given the DTS treatment as they deserve, and the mix between the orchestra
and the band is excellent, but the surround channels are not fully utilized.
While you can hear everything, the rear channels are used very minimally
and the subwoofer only woofs instead of rocks.
It needs just a bit more rollover and less Beethoven but still a very
One has plenty of rehearsal and interview footage and Disc Two has more
interviews and a performance of “Sure Know Something” with a smaller part of
the orchestra on the Australian TV show ROVE LIVE! There are also web links.