|KISS: Rock the Nation (DVD)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-17 19:17:17
There's nothing quite like a KISS show — even if half of the original lineup is missing and Paul Stanley's voice is shot to hell. The excitement that the band's current incarnation still generates is captured on KISS Rock the Nation, a two-DVD set that that chronicles shows filmed in July 2004 in Washington, D.C., and Virginia Beach, Va. – and that could easily have fit on one disc. The cameras focus on crowd shots (fans in makeup, young kids and hot women) almost as much as they show band members, making much of this two-hour-and-15-minute set blink-and-you-miss-it viewing.
The presence of Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums isn't as distracting as it initially was when they replaced Ace Frehley and Peter Criss wearing their signature makeup, and they actually boost the band's musicality to a new level. Thayer's playing is much cleaner than Frehley's, and he brings an aggressive attitude to KISS' lead guitar sound that's been missing for years. Meanwhile, Singer sings his brains out, adding oomph to the background vocals on most songs. Stanley's performance, while certainly energetic, is erratic. At times, he seems distracted by the crowd, and when he begins an anti-terrorist rant during the encore, his credibility drops faster than a stoned Ace. Gene Simmons, on the other hand, has ditched the "God of Thunder" shtick and now performs his bass solo and flying routine to the equally disturbing "Unholy."
The set list features several songs the band hasn't performed live in years, including "Makin' Love," "She," "I Want You" and "Parasite." Other surprise performances: a shockingly off-key run-through of "Tears Are Falling" and a potent rendition of "Got to Choose." A tiered and sleek high-tech stage, plus enough pyro and video for the members of KISS to prove that, yes, they are on the cutting edge, enhances the spectacle. Short between-song mini-documentaries that take viewers inside the dressing room, the meet-and-greets and the sound checks are well done but gratuitous and not particularly revealing. And forget about the over-hyped "KISS Powervision," an interactive feature that allows viewers to access separate channels to watch their favorite band member. It's distracting and takes away from the concert's larger-than-life effect.