Oh yeah! You can almost hear the fire-breathing front man, Gene “The Demon” Simmons, scream watch this once-in-a-lifetime event on the Blu-ray format. And who am I to argue with his wisdom? I’m a nobody in regards to Mr. Simmons, but one thing you can’t question is my undying discipleship to the legendary, finally in the Rock Hall of Fame, rock band KISS. They have been like a religion in my life and my coverage of certain KISS related events here, here and here are a testament to my love and affinity to the four guys despite all the lineup shakeups over the year making them a resilient and indestructible force of nature). And the following Blu-ray review here is no exception to the matter. However, I am sad I missed out on all of this in 2014. I was really hoping that KISS would of brought their residency back to The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, but wish in one hand and you know what in the other. Even though I missed it all, I have to look on the bright side of things. I have one hell of a rock and roll souvenir now with Eagle Rock Entertainment’s KISS Rocks Vegas on Blu-ray.
So here’s the deal about this historic Blu-ray release. This one is captured in the midst of KISS’ 40th Anniversary World Tour where the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers rocked my favorite place in the world, Las Vegas, during their residency at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in November 2014. This Sin City set sizzles with KISS classics spread across their 44 album legacy: “Rock And Roll All Night,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud,” “Love Gun,” “Deuce” and many more just to name a few (with a few surprise songs too). As an added bonus feature, Kiss Rocks Vegas includes a seven-song acoustic set. In their usual style of rocking out, this show is punctuated with pyrotechnics galore as this Blu-ray concert film presents the fire, electricity and the one-of-a-kind rock experience that earned KISS over 100 million sales globally. The KISS Army knows what I’m talking about here.
For those of you who lost count or track of names over the years, KISS mainstay front men, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, are paired with guitarist Tommy Thayer and my Cleveland brother from another, Eric Singer on drums. Tommy has filled such shoes as Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John and Bruce Kulick on lead guitar while Eric replaces Peter Criss and the late Eric Carr. I’ll spare you the he said, she said history of how the legendary band went from makeup to no makeup and back to the face plaster once again. One thing’s for sure, these guys may be eligible for walkers and canes any day now (Paul has even had hip replacements), but you wouldn’t know it from the non-stop energy they infuse into each and every show they put on for over 40 years now. I don’t know how they do it, but I guess when you love what you do for a career anything is possible in the longevity department.
“We Rocked and Vegas Rolled ! This was Epic In Your Face KISS ! We got Up close and personal, I think Rock and Roll fans will really enjoy this spectacle that only KISS can deliver.”
– Paul Stanley
“KaBOOM! We blew up the Joint at The Hard Rock in Vegas like never before. We are very proud of this and know that you will be blown away as well.”
With over 40 years of record-breaking global tours and the expanse of loyal KISS Army members worldwide, KISS continues to entertain generations with their mammoth live prowess, which is on big, bold, LOUD display here on KISS Rocks Vegas. Just look at the set list below, it’s a nice complementary, rockin’ mix between old school KISS and some new. I’m still in shock that one of my favorite 80’s tracks, Asylum‘s “Tears Are Falling” is included here. You can’t ask for anything more in life than that!
BLU-RAY TRACK LISTING:
1. DETROIT ROCK CITY
2. CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
3. PSYCHO CIRCUS
5. WAR MACHINE
6. TEARS ARE FALLING
8. LICK IT UP
9. I LOVE IT LOUD
10. HELL OR HALLELUJAH
11. TOMMY GUITAR SOLO
12. BASS SOLO
13. GOD OF THUNDER
14. DO YOU LOVE ME
15. LOVE GUN
16. BLACK DIAMOND
17. SHOUT IT OUT LOUD
18. ROCK AND ROLL ALL NIGHT
1. COMING HOME
2. PLASTER CASTER
3. HARD LUCK WOMAN
4. CHRISTINE SIXTEEN
5. GOIN’ BLIND
6. LOVE HER ALL I CAN
I do want to make mention of the packaging here. It did not arrive in a standard Blu-ray amaray case like I would have expected it to (see screen shots below in the extras section). Rather it came in a cardboard package presentation much like a traditional CD does nowadays. It also an included CD in the two-disc set I received from Eagle Rock. The CD contains the following tracklisting: 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 10. Hell Or Hallelujah 11. God Of Thunder 12. Do You Love Me 13. Love Gun 14. Black Diamond 15. Shout It Out Loud 16. Rock And Roll All Nite. It should be noted that there is also a Deluxe Edition of KISS Rocks Vegas. It is presented as a hardcover package with a 12X12 book, boasting photos from the show and an exclusive CD.
With all the housekeeping out of the way up above now we can focus on briefly chatting about this KISS Las Vegas concert experience you’re all here to learn all about. For those of you who don’t know or never attended a KISS concert over the past 40 years YOU’RE CRAZY! What are you waiting for? It’s very much a religious experience. Whatever the lineup, hurt, sick or somber, KISS gives their all and does their absolute best to always entertain their captive audience. KISS Rocks Vegas is no exception to the rule here. It’s very much more of the same some over the course of 40 years. I’m not knocking them. I mean that with great love, affinity, sincerity and admiration. They put on one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll shows in the world for the past 40 years and no matter how they change it up from year-to-year there’s no denying that you won’t be leaving without your mind being blown. No one does it better than KISS. Many have tried while many have failed to live up to their persona. The closest band out there in my honest opinion that puts on a quality stage show like this would be a Rob Zombie or even Marilyn Manson of the past, but I digress. We’re here to talk the gospel of KISS!
The show starts out with the crowd pleasing “Detroit Rock City,” but I have never been a huge fan of this Alive II cut as an opener. I much prefer the opening of every KISS concert be with my favorite song of all-time, the superior “Deuce.” My initial impression of things here was where’s the energy and holy hell is Paul’s voice completely shot at times. Rest assured that both of these complaints are later mitigated as the concert goes on. Somehow KISS is able to pick up energy and enthusiasm while by some God unknown miracle Paul’s voice actually improves too. Now I understand it may sound like I’m ragging on the band here. I am not. No one loves KISS more than I do and that’s why I want the absolute best for my favorite rock band of all-time. I care too much what people think. I never want anyone saying look at those dinosaurs on stage and and as a result me feeling embarrassed for them. However, that’s just it, at least for the first half of this show I was all that. Let’s talk about these feelings.
During the one hour, twenty-eight minute and eleven second run-time I was mesmerized by the many lasers, lights and the pyrotechnic fiesta that is a KISS show. Things have never looked better for the band and that’s even me admitting this was way cooler than their Revenge era set too. That much impresses me. However, the two front man I know, love and have grown up with my entire life are really showing their age onstage. They still move around every chance they get, but it’s becoming more and more obvious they’re no longer as nimble as they once were. That much is true!
Now let’s talk Paul’s voice. Wow! I worshiped this guy my whole life so it’s very sad to see him getting so frail in his old age. As I always say, nothing good ever lasts forever. Ain’t that the honest God darn truth, eh? Here’s where I admit that feeling of embarrassment. I feel bad for Paul. When he croons and tries to half way hit those notes he could easily nail some twenty years ago it looks very painful for him at times. Truth be told, these moments sound awful too. Again, I feel really bad. I hate to see Paul like this, but it’s great to see that he doesn’t let his limitations get him down. He knows when to back away from the microphone and there’s a reason why he no longer attempts that intro to “Heaven’s on Fire” anymore. He’s just out there to entertain everyone and put on a world class rock ‘n’ roll show. I’m happy to report he very much succeeds in that respect. He’s still a very charismatic front man. That much I cannot deny or take away from him. He’s still my Star Child no matter his condition.
I remember the KISS of my heydays and if it takes a reincarnation of this band I’d be all for it. On the flip side, Gene has seen better days too, but he still sounds great! Go figure, huh? I have zero complaints about Eric and Tommy. People seem to unfairly bash them for being impostors in the band. To those people I say get over it! They look and embody everything KISS stands for and both sound great doing it. In fact, the trio carry Paul vocally here throughout. By the time it comes to the choruses of songs Paul does not even attempt them. Thankfully he does not need to. The harmony of Gene, Tommy and Eric carries Paul through these difficult and challenging times. Honestly it sounds great too. So there’s always that in the positive column here. KISS is a team after all, all for one and one for all.
Last but not least let’s talk about the performances and what you’ll find here. Minus the vocals KISS sounds tight. I’m always a fan too of Tommy on lead guitar and nothing can ever be said negative about Eric on drums. That former Cleveland, OH native is a beast behind the set, a force not to be reckoned with. Sadly the guitar solo here is no Ace Frehley, but hey Tommy’s guitar still shoots a firecracker out of it. That has to count for something, eh? We still have Gene doing what he does best, spitting blood and blowing fire. Paul also becomes intimate with the audience during “Love Gun” as he traverses through the crowd to perform the song on a platform above everyone. There’s also a nice touch with the former KISS members like Vinnie, Eric and Bruce on a video screen behind the band while they performed “Do You Love Me.” Oddly though, instead of bikini clad women prancing on stage with Paul he brought up little girls to strum guitar with him. I’m sorry, but that’s just plain creepy even if you are a grandpa.
All in all, I had a blast with this concert despite all the negatives I chose to highlight above and nitpick over. It’s just that I wanted the best, but I only got second best. Too bad there’s not some 4K footage of the band out there with them performing in their prime that they can’t release on Blu-ray. I know there has to be something, no? Highlights for me include having a good time with my favorite band, the nostalgia of it all, the stunning stage show and lights and select performances such as “God of Thunder,” “Parasite,” “Deuce” and “Black Diamond.” Oh well, you don’t need to read anymore of my gibberish. You’re not here to worry about Paul’s fragile well being like I am (nothing but mad love and respect for you Paul). You’re here because you want to know how the first U.S. Blu-ray of KISS performing live looks and sounds on the HD format. Right? Hell yeah you are! Well, you came to the right place as I have you covered down below. Like they say in “Psycho Circus,” welcome to the show!
Disclaimer: Down below I am going to be judging the A/V disc vitals in an unorthodox way by being a bit lax on them. I’m doing this because of the various ways this was captured and the fact that it’s not a film presentation. Therefore, the source is going to be 1080i and not your usual 1080p Blu-ray treasure. I think it’s unfair just to ding it for that. However, the audio is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a punishing Dolby Atmos track that really puts the “rock” in “Rock And Roll All Nite.”
- Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
- Resolution: 1080i
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Clarity/Detail: The first thing you’ll notice here is the fine detail. Paul’s voice may not sound like a million bucks (sorry Paul), but this certainly looks like a million bucks production. The infinite detail in this one is beyond words from the stage itself to the beads of sweat and cracks in makeup on Paul and Gene’s faces. There’s absolutely nothing to nitpick here. You can tell there are many different cameras deployed here to achieve coverage of the entire event, but for a concert this looks like M-O-N-E-Y, and that’s exactly what KISS is! Top notch, baby! One could almost mistake this for 4K footage, not 1080i. Yep! It’s that crisp! My eyes are etched from it.
- Depth: Depth of field is visible every frickin’ which way you look here from the vast sea of audience members cheering KISS on to the immaculately illuminated stage the four members play their hearts out on. All four manage to stand out from their backgrounds too due to the three-dimensional pop of this presentation. Believe me ladies and gentlemen, this one P-O-P-S!
- Black Levels: The black levels throughout this concert performance are deep and inky. In other words, they are perfect!
- Color Reproduction: Besides the outstanding levels of clarity and detail throughout here the vibrant colors are what make things really pop. They are downright bold, big and beautiful throughout. The fireworks nearly blind you at times. It’s like you’re there and I love it (loud too)!
- Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are all natural and authentic looking throughout this concert performance.
- Noise/Artifacts: There’s nothing here that’s going to make you say yuck visual wise. I miss the R-rated and bikini clad women KISS used to have hanging around, but what are you going to do. People grow old and I just have to deal with it. I also call this section the “confetti test” when talking about HD concert footage. No doubt about it, an abundance of confetti rains down from the sky during the last song in this concert and not once did I see the footage freak out or become blocky like it would if you were filming it on your cell phone for example.
- Audio Format(s): LPCM Stereo, Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio
- Dynamics: This is one of those concerts that you can really crank up and everything just sounds fantastically tight and wound in unison. From the quietest of choruses to the highest of shrills coming from Tommy’s guitars strings the dynamics of this performance are quite impressive. There’s nothing I feel I’m missing out on taking this all in from the comfort of my living room couch with the exception of actually being there live. This is the real deal and it may not be the best KISS performance ever, but it’s definitely one of their best sounding home media releases. You can’t argue that! You also have three ways to listen to this too! You can’t go wrong. Oh yeah!
- Height: What “shocked me” (a little Ace Frehley KISS Alive II pun there) was the inclusion of a Dolby Atmos surround track here. I can’t tell you the tears of joy that streamed down my face when I opened up the cardboard housing of this 2-disc set to see those glorious works imprinted on the Blu-ray disc. Wowsers! Truth be told, this is also one of the finest presentations of Dolby Atmos I have heard. Prime examples of the superior presentation include the many fireworks, explosions, firecracker out of Tommy’s guitar that shot straight up and even the helicopter that brought the band to the show. I found myself looking up at my ceiling many times with this one. Call me impressed because I am! It’s not just a gimmick, Dolby Atmos actually serves a huge purpose here.
- Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is powerful throughout with Eric’s drums punching and kicking and the many, nonstop explosions that rock your viewing room. The punishing subwoofer makes you feel like you’re really there. Speaking of punishing, holy wow wait until you hear the bass that comes out of Gene’s intro into “God of Thunder.” The bass was so monstrous and boisterous I thought my living room was going to explode!
- Surround Sound Presentation: You wouldn’t think a concert video would offer too much in the way of a killer surround sound presentation, but you’d be wrong with that way of thinking here. Not only does the crowd cheer and explosions detonate endlessly behind you, but the other wow factors include the echo of vocals, music and most notably the reverb from once again, Gene’s intro into the arena pleasing “God of Thunder.”
- Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout. It obviously fluctuate throughout in respect to the particular song being performed, but I never had any issues hearing the dialogue at all in the Atmos mix. The center channel was well prioritized and driven for this vocal challenge.
KISS Rocks Vegas releases on August 26th in a multitude of different packages. There’s even an Amazon exclusive edition too. However, the one I was given for review here is the traditional Blu-ray release which features everything I chronicled up above in the way of extras and packaging style (further shown down below in actual screenshots). If I had only one complaint about this 2-disc set other than the fact it wasn’t released in a traditional Blu-ray amaray case, it would be the exclusion of any kind of Digital Copy. That would have really rocked. Beggars can’t be choosers though, right? Exactly! When it comes to KISS on the Blu-ray format I will take what I can get! I can’t watch those KISSology DVDs anymore. They are hurting my eyes. Ha ha. Blu-ray or bust from now on, KISS!
So in talking about the extras here I guess there’s only one thing to mention, the seven song acoustic set. That’s the only extra found on the Blu-ray disc. You can find the tracklisting up above. However, there’s also the CD (Compact Disc) counterpart included in this set too that basically reproduces the show audibly. You could consider that an extra, eh? I’ll roll with it! For all of this, I’ll award this section a 2.5. Sadly there are really no behind-the-scenes, interviews or EPK style footage to be found here.
Now let’s finish this review by giving you an up close and personal KISS “konfidential” look at this two-disc Blu-ray set and everything you’ll find included. Enjoy the screenshots I took below. I’m trying my best to give you the most “x-treme closeup” I can of the actual product in hand. I hope you agree!
KISS Rocks Vegas will be on sale everywhere next Friday, but let me just say how honored I am to have received this Blu-ray early for review. Thank you very much Eagle Rock Entertainment! I’m very sad this Blu-ray review is coming to a close because it feels like a “good” family reunion that you never want to end, but you know time is your enemy. Despite all the negative things I had to say up above I do so as a reviewer. You must understand that is my job to report both the good and unfortunately the bad despite my biased love for the subject matter at hand. Would I like an HD KISS performance from their heydays? You bet I would! However, I’m an optimist here and let me tell you why in the next paragraph after I hit the return key here.
How many people get to do what they love in life and make a living at it? Not many! If you don’t know KISS’ history, then you need to read research it. No one gave them crap! They worked their way to the top with sheer blood, sweat and determination and you know what? Some forty odd years later they’re still at the top of their game. They many not sound or look the “best” anymore, but how many sixty-something year olds do you know that are doing what Paul and Gene are doing night after night? I personally don’t know any. So without further ado I want every KISS fan to buy and support this release. You know the completest in you NEEDS it and you know you love it LOUD. So you’re in luck, I will help you out with a pre-order link down below. Hopefully KISS will be eternal and our kids’ kids will grow up listening to a whole new generation KISS yet to come. You read it here first. I wanna rock an roll all nite…and PARTY EVERY DAY with Kiss Rocks Vegas on Blu-ray!
Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite
w/ KISS Rocks Vegas
on Blu-ray August 26th!