Kiss - Kiss Rock Vegas DVD review

Alive! again: Kiss put the ‘hard rock’ into the Hard Rock Hotel in this Vegas extravaganza.

Kiss band photograph

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Unless you’ve been in a cave in Borneo these past 40-odd years, it cannot have escaped your notice that Kiss are not, and never have been, the most restrained of bands. Their tendency for over-the-topness is amplified to the nth degree on this DVD, filmed during their November 2014 residency at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

In many ways, the nefarious Nevada city is the perfect setting for the present-day Kiss, as they surely begin to unwind their storied career. Their current show is as glitzy as a Caesar’s Palace showgirl’s vajazzle, and as flagrant as PI Dan Tanna’s bright-red 1957 Ford Thunderbird. For evidence, look no further than the deluxe edition of this release, which could be mistaken for a 12-inch vinyl record.

Open up its thick cardboard cover and you’ll discover a book containing a wealth of photos of the show, comin’ atcha in Day-Glo Technicolor. The back of the pack houses four discs: a Blu-ray, a DVD and two CDs, each emblazoned with an image of an individual Kiss member. It’s a brilliantly tactile offering that has you licking your lips in anticipation – and ideally with a Gene Simmons-sized proboscis.

And, of course, the actual televisuals don’t disappoint, with multiple camera angles and swooping boom-arm work making Kiss’s eye-boggling live show appear even more, well, eye-boggling. Of course, the band’s carefully choreographed performance must be a director’s dream, as every night at precisely 24 minutes and 33 seconds you just know Gene Simmons is going to lumber to the front of the stage like an armour-clad orangutang and gob blood in your eye.

But there are problems. Frontman Paul Stanley’s’ voice is not what it was, and his tendency to daub his flagging stomach with noughts-and-crosses stripes in a bid to emulate abs doesn’t fool anyone. And as for guitarist Tommy Thayer… Well, look, there’s a fine line between imitation and parody, and Thayer’s attempts to emulate original six-stringer Ace Frehley’s stumbling cosmic mannerisms all too often fall into the latter camp.

But in truth, it’s no good nitpicking. The Kiss juggernaut rolls on, only these days the girls don’t get their tits out and the show is fun for all the family. Progress of sorts, we suppose.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.