Whether you're a rock/metal fan or not, it's an undeniably objective fact that KISS have permeated the popular consciousness of Western society, and beyond, like no other band in existence. For there is no other band like KISS. The latter might be an oft used statement when describing the uniqueness of particular bands, be that for the longevity and seminal influence of established acts, or the ephemeral novelty appeal of quirky newcomers. However, KISS have always had it all - sustained seminality; a long and prosperous career; and have successfully transcended their novelty roots to develop, transform and embed all associated gimmicks into the very aesthetic at the heart of the band. Over-the-top stage shows, rock star excess, and glitzy histrionics are but three qualities that immediately spring to mind at the sheer mention of KISS and are, ironically, as much of a turn-off for some as they are an attraction for millions of others across the globe. Most importantly, though, is the wide array of hit songs that have become as rife throughout modern popular culture as the diegesis of the band's perennially interesting narrative itself. Love 'em or hate 'em, one cannot deny that KISS have always written great, catchy tunes. And the best way to experience their music is within the context of one of their shows, with all its concomitant, indulgent excesses - the make-up, costumes, wild lighting, theatrics, pyrotechnic flair, stage hydraulics; and Gene Simmons' tongue!
So, here we have 'KISS Rocks Vegas', which allows you to indulge in said excesses from the comfort of your own living room. The deluxe edition of this release has been made available for review here, although I gather it's also going to be available in other editions, including standard BD and DVD releases, plus DVD/CD and DVD/2LP packages. However, the discerning KISS fanatic, with a few extra quid to spare, will undoubtedly want to snap up this deluxe beast. A thing of beauty, it takes the form of a large-sized, hardback, 60 page, glossy book, chock-full of super colourful photography, within which four discs are securely housed inside the back cover: a Blu-ray Disc and DVD featuring the same content, and two CDs. The optical discs contain the main feature, a KISS show from their nine date residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, during November 2014, which clocks in at just over 88 minutes. Also included is just over 25 minutes footage of an acoustic performance. CD1 has a trimmed version, of course, of the 88 minute show, to fit on the disc, and CD2 has the audio from the acoustic performance.
The main concert on the BD/DVD is everything you'd expect from a KISS show, and the full HD experience on the Blu-ray Disc makes it look every bit as visually enticing as it could do in 1080p. Colourful, sharp and visually entrancing in every respect, this is the way KISS should be experienced on home media. And with three audio options that cater for different audio setups, you can choose between LPCM Stereo, Dolby Atmos or DTS-HD Master Audio - each of these sound magnificent. So, from a technical point of view, the picture and audio quality both score full marks. Artistically, it's just as breathtaking, as a combination of roving, static, zooming and panning cameras have captured all of the wonderfully over-the-top rock action from every conceivable angle, and succeeds in conveying the grand, fun-fuelled party experience a KISS concert is. Musically, the band are on top form as a series of hits are reeled off with an admirable amount of zest and enthusiasm that, quite frankly, puts many younger rock acts to shame. Some might choose to brand KISS' music and their stage show cheesy... but, that it is not. They somehow manage to transcend any degree of cheesy semblance through their unmitigated dedication, commitment, and self-assuredness in their own aesthetic excesses. And that's precisely the vibe that's conveyed through 'KISS Rocks Vegas'.
Bonus material on the BD/DVD, as already mentioned, is limited to a seven song acoustic set that seems to have taken place during the day, ahead of one of the Vegas shows, within a relaxed, intimate setting in front of a small crowd (I'm hazarding a guess it was part of some sort of VIP upgrade package). Out of makeup and severed from the rock show histrionics, this is about as stripped down as KISS will ever be. The band and their compositions sound great in this more minimalist form, and is testament to their compositional skills in the first place that their songs can be malleable, and work, in this way.
The CDs are a nice addition, and it's great to have the audio from both sets to enjoy in a different context, although the real draw in this package is the magnificence of the Blu-ray Disc. Some additional bonus content would have been nice, such as a mini-documentary covering their Vegas residency, and accompanying interviews with the band members. But let's not forget the 60 page book - this, in itself, serves as a nice visual document of the occasion, with some fantastic backstage and show photography. Ultimately, and in essence, 'KISS Rocks Vegas' is all about the music and the ostentatious, yet refined, visual spectacle of their unparalleled show. In this, the 4-disc set excels.
Eagle Rock Entertainment
KISS ROCKS VEGAS
Review by Mark Holmes
26th August 2016
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
KISS Acoustic: 1) Coming Home; 2) Plaster Caster; 3) Hard Luck Woman; 4) Christine Sixteen; 5) Goin' Blind; 6) Love Her All I Can; 7) Beth
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Whether you're a rock/metal fan or not, it's an undeniably objective fact that KISS have permeated the popular consciousness of Western society, and beyond, like no other band in existence."