Some facts – I owned this thing back in the day. The day – as in 1985. Can I say that ? I wonder how that rates in this world of ‘Kiss cool’ where, it is how old you were when you got into Kiss, which gives you the serious cred amongst your fellow Kissers…you know what I am talking about here – the ones who fudge the truth a little (the Cowboy wrote about it recently and you hear it now and again on Kiss podcasts) “I got into Kiss in 1975 when I was five years old” Sure you did. Most children that age are still content to play with cars, crayons and horses, yet it would seem some supercool kinderbrats – (back in 1975 at least), had their ears to the ground and were dissected the Dressed To Kill album. P-lease. So what if you got into Kiss in 1988 ? Where’s the shame ? Ahhh I get it, gotta look the goods amongst the older (and no doubt wiser) Kiss fans/disciples who jumped on board the Kiss train in the 70’s …..but Mr Rockbrat digresses. This fondness for the make-up era attracted a large part of the Kiss audience in the 80’s, be in no doubt about that. As a Kiss droid, I recall seeing an advert for this in a copy of Circus magazine and all but peed my pants. Apart from a seldom-seen VHS copy of the Kiss film venture ‘Attack of The Phantoms’, there was nothing ‘officially’ released to slam into our family’s video player. So when I bought this, I was indeed – in heavy metal heaven. Last night, I decided to re-watch this show – step into my DeLorean as it were – the date set to 8th December 1984 and the place – Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Ponder this – only the year before – Kiss were still recognisable head turners – stomping around in platform boots and face-paint on the Creatures of the Night Tour. Flash forward a mere three months later and they play their first ‘unmasked’ show – in Lisbon, of all places. The capital city of Portugal, rich in culture and history/kisstory – and setting for the very first Kiss show without the costumes. That tour was in support of the Lick It Up record, followed by the Animalize platter…which brings us back to winter in Michigan in 1984. Kiss were – though I couldn’t see it back then – let me use the ‘F’ word – faceless. Just another hard rock band out on the road trying to get bums on seats. As you will have gathered – laughter (piss taking) is something Mr Rockbrat takes great delight in, especially with New York’s finest – and there is plenty to scoff at here:
Spinal Tap was released in March of 84. If $immons saw it, he was surely dozing through it and missed the joke. Though I bet Stanley didn’t get the joke. Serious business the one he’s in. reckon that around this time period, only Krokus, Quiet Riot and Pretty Maids (along with Biff and pals in Saxon of course) rivalled Kiss in the field of looking ridiculous. I’ll get to the frivolity in a moment, but first, let’s go over the set list:
‘Detroit Rock City’ was the obvious opener, but the Frehley-penned “Cold Gin” at second song was not. It remained in the set for years and I ain’t really sure why as it was never a stand-out. I couldve done without “Smell The Glo…err I mean “Fits Like a Glove” and also ‘Under The Gun’ from the record they were touring. As for airing b-grade HM fodder like Young and Wasted ? Unnecessary – especially when you think about the amazing back catalogue of tunes they got to choose (ahem) from. oh that’s the old Kiss, I geddit. The excruciating I Still Love You is like watching paint dry and by continually including it in the Kiss set year after year, indicates that an egomaniac (with a purple aura) was at work. Black Diamond is one of my favourite Kiss tunes and it is great here, unlike the tiresome ‘Love Gun’ or their anthemic set-closer, which I will not name as I am sick to death of it. Simmons used to have that annoying way of singing it too – veering from the original recording with his own – “we’ll drive you (pause) cray…..zeh”. Overall a fairly weak set, though back in the day I wore out the tape. It ruled man – or unreal – as we used to say (that’s late 70’s speak for ‘fully sick’). Little did I know, as we all didn’t, that some of the audio was apparently touched up in the studio. More Kiss trickery from wizards Gene and Paul. Still, when you’d faked Alive! and Alive 2, what did it matter anymore ? According to some sources, some (if not all) of Stanley’s vocals were overdubbed for a cleaner audio sound. Is it any wonder with all the dancing and prancing he used to carry on with back then ? He can barely stand still at the mike. Actually his dancing is fucking ridiculous and at times he resembles an epileptic string puppet. He is constantly kicking and prancing and it is damn hysterical. No one takes themselves more serious than the Eisenite. The Cat (in his excellent new book) mentions that Paul would strangely grab his own ass on stage at different times – like tonight. Check the Starchild out when, during his long-winded Love Gun intro, he actually turns his backs to the audience and fakes making out !? Like Ralph Malph used to do on Happy Days sometimes. Bizarre. Maybe he was lost without his black star and diamond vest ? His bass playing buddy sure as hell was. $immons must be the least athletic guy in town so him performing those high kicks is a riot. Shame he didn’t fall on his ass and dislodge that dead cat he was wearing. Bruce Kulick was competent but had the stage presence of an oak tree….amd his solo’s have no feeling…compare the solo in Black Diamond to Frehley’s (actually no one will ever fill Ace’s boots or match his sound). Eric Carr – as always gave his all….even during an unneccesary drum solo – nothing against Carr, I am just against drum solo’s full stop. As for solo’s, could Paul Stanley get away (ahem again) with a guitar solo ? I mean, really ? Yes, he was far more competent in 84 than 74, but since when do rhythm players get a solo ? I will not even mention Gene’s (are they leather diapers he is wearing ?) boring bass solo. A bass solo !? Billy Sheehan ? Sure. Stanley Clarke. uh-huh. Gene Klein ? No way….and he needs the accompaniment of the former Fox to come to his rescue. Should I mention the women’s underwear ? I mean really – there is so much of it draping the mike’s and guitar necks that they could’ve opened a lingerie shop. Ladies and Gentleman, Spinal Tap. Note that at one point Stanley tells the crowd ‘this place looks like a damn zoo’. Yet when it came to that tour’s stage threads, the band in fact are wearing more leopard and tiger print garb than the big cats at the nearby Detroit Zoo (which is an improvement on the spandex and knee pads from the previous tour). Yes, Kiss Sherlock , I am aware Animalize had animal skins on the jacket sleeve…. Looking back this performance is good at best. I was fond of this line-up – they were together for a few years, but looking back – the charisma just ain’t there. Criss, Frehley and the 70’s peak were a looming shadow, and long since passed. Kiss had morphed into a faceless heavy metal act – a stereotypical HM band cranking it out for largely male dominated audiences.. In 85 I dug it, but now I can see through olderize. It is fun to watch, though I could not get through all of it. Before any Kiss drones get all flustered about my thoughts – don’t take it all to heart. After all, they’re just another rock n roll band. Merry kissmas folks.