We seem to be getting a pleasant number of live DVDs and the likes for review at the moment, which makes for a nice change. It also takes up more time as I can’t just pop them on in the background while I read a book – especially with one as visually entertaining as a KISS show.
The show(s) on the Rocks Vegas DVD were recorded during a 9-night residency at the Hard Rock Hotel in Nevada back in 2014. Given that I’ve only ever seen KISS at festivals, the venue looks comparatively pokey, though they band themselves don’t looks too cramped and stride around in full make-up and costumes, somehow avoiding being set on fire by the insane amount of pyrotechnics. Unusually for a rock gig these days, it’s obviously a seated venue so the audience are on their feet, but fairly immobile. That would have driven me nuts if I’d had a ticket for the show.
There are multiple cameras in use, covering all angles – including “from the crowd” shots with mobile phones obscuring the view! Yeah, that’s pretty much giving you the “real” live feel these days… Cameras on cranes swoosh by, several down the front get the close-ups and so on. Basically you don’t miss a thing. If there’s an issue it’s that the views flick by pretty quickly. It would have been nice to cram on a “camera angle” feature where you could pick one view, or hop between them manually.
The setlist is varied, covering quite a range of the band’s history. From “Parasite” (I’m more familiar with Anthrax’s version) to “Deuce”, “War Machine”, “Love Gun”… No way are you going to get all the classics on here, but it’s a decent selection. Book-ended by “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Nite”, there are sixteen tracks to enjoy, accompanied by a seizure-inducing lights show.
Soundwise, the band are top notch. Given the time they’ve been performing, you’d expect note perfect but Paul Stanley’s vocals in particular are superb. As with many live recordings these days, though, the producers have ignored one of the most important aspects – the crowd. Even during the between-song segments, they’re far too low in the mix. You can see them going nuts, clapping away and so on but they can barely be heard. Note to live album mixers – we need more screams between songs, singalong choruses, hand claps and so on!
Audio is available as stereo, 5.1 and DTS surround. Sadly, the wife made me sell my surround setup some time ago so I can only attest for the “earphone on late at night” track, but it’s fine and meaty.
The DVD version adds an additional seven songs, all acoustic versions. The performance looks like a special pre-gig show for VIP ticket holders – maybe 100 of them. A much smaller crowd in a hall – about as intimate a performance as KISS are likely to make these days. It’s a decent collection of songs, too, none of which are in the main set. There’s also a nice bit of crowd interaction where a young girl asks for “Shout It Out Loud”… which isn’t one the band are about to play!
My pick from this bunch is probably “Goin’ Blind” which sounds so much like a Beatles track when it’s done acoustically. Eric’s rendition of “Beth” is superb, but I’ve heard it that many times that it perhaps has lost the kick that “Goin’ Blind” has.
Given the lack of new KISS material coming out these days in terms of original songs, this isn’t a bad collection to fill the gap until/if they do anything. With the addition of the acoustic tracks, the DVD is worth the extra compared to the plain CD in my view. There’s also a CD/DVD digipak so you can get the best of both worlds.