Illustrates perfectly why this band don't just endure, instead they are positively thriving as they continue on well into their fifth decade.
It may have taken two years to hit our screens, but 'KISS Rocks Vegas' is the celebration of the band reaching the ripe old age of forty. Captured during their 2014 residency at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, KISS brought all their much loved toys out to play in, what for them was, a compact indoor venue. The production values on and off stage are simply off the charts, screens almost as big as the stage itself flanking it either side, while the equally impressive visuals behind Eric Singer's drum riser (which of course rises even further as the show goes on) extend up and across the ceiling. Explosions boom and bang throughout, while Gene Simmons spits blood, Tommy Thayer shoots rockets from the neck of his guitar and Paul Stanley 'flies' above the crowd before smashing his six-string on the stage. Yes, we have come to expect all this platform raising, choreographed bombast and yet, witnessed through this Blu-ray/DVD/2CD coffee table book set, there's still no denying that KISS are the hottest band in the land.
Put aside the hot air expelled on social media by the God Of Thunder, or the never ending gimmicky merchandise, and simply revel in the sight of, an admittedly older than we'd like to remember, band delivering the sort of show that many have tried and failed to emulate. Sixteen songs spread across 85 minutes hold only one or two surprises – the inclusion of newish track 'Hell Or Hallelujah' being one, the omission of classic oldie 'Cold Gin' another, while a snatch of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' in the middle of 'Lick It Up' is a clever addition given the laser show taking place. However, from 'Detroit Rock City' opening the show with the band stepping through a stage wide screen that splits down the middle, through the still mighty 'Parasite', via Stanley singing 'Love Gun' from a platform at the rear of the hall, to the iconic show closer 'Rock And Roll All Night', it's still hard not to marvel at how good this band are. Simmons may be chubbier than his imposing younger self and Stanley may not quite hold the high notes as well as he once did, but the sights and sounds still hold you transfixed. Purists will decry that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are still touring clubs or sitting at home as the flames shoot from the stage. Yet it becomes surprisingly easy to view the Spaceman and Cat as the characters they always were and simply get carried away as the pair now in those roles (Thayer and Singer) ape their predecessors superbly, possibly (probably), in the process, surpassing what the originals could bring to this party now.
The production from Thayer is impeccable, the live atmosphere caught superbly, while the direction from David DeHaven is slick and smooth, although the quick cutting from camera to camera, which obviously takes in shots from different nights in the residency, can be frustrating. The guitar solo in 'Creatures Of The Night' proving a distraction, as it finds Thayer popping up in front, behind and then next to Stanley, all in the blink of an eye – although it's a minor complaint.
As if all that wasn't enough, the deluxe book (other cheaper versions are available) is packed with superb live shots and comes with an exclusive, live acoustic CD of an "unmasked" show (seemingly filmed in the hotel lobby) that is also found on the DVD and Blu-ray discs. Containing another seven, stripped back tracks, not only do 'Hard Luck Woman', 'Coming Home' and 'Love Her All I Can' highlight how strong the song-writing of KISS can be, but also how impressive the singing of the whole band still is; especially Simmons.
The recorded catalogue of KISS has long been underrated but it's always been in the live arena that they've set their bar highest and watching these shows it becomes impossible to deny that they're still doing just that. Vegas may be famed for its casinos, but 'KISS Rocks Vegas' is no gamble, instead it illustrates perfectly why this band don't just endure, instead they are positively thriving as they continue on well into their fifth decade.