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KISS: Rock the Nation (DVD)

KISS returns to the small screen following their "Rock The Nation" tour with a concert film that is sure to satisfy a large amount of their fans. The KISS of today is a little different than legacy fans might remember as Ace Frehley and Peter Criss have been gone from the group for a couple of years. In their place and their signature makeup is Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer on guitar and drums respectively. When this first became practice the original KISS fan in me was annoyed at this aspect but it was clear after some time that Ace and Peter simply were not going to be able to cut it or follow the directives lined out by Simmons and Stanley to keep this group running. I would have preferred these fine musicians join in and KISS carry on without the greasepaint, but in truth KISS in makeup is what fills the seats and allows them the larger than life personas that so many recognize. Having seen them in the live setting I can say that they do the original members justice and perform with an enthusiasm that Peter and Ace no longer seemed to have during their final appearances of their tenure. This DVD takes us to the front row of one of their performances on the "Rock The Nation" tour and it is a great follow-up to their last release of "Alive IV: KISS Symphony". That particular DVD still had Peter but Thayer was already made up as the Spaceman. "Rock The Nation" was a show that if you were able to get by the other cast members now in famous makeup you were able to enjoy the concert as it featured a large amount of songs that had not been played in years. Songs like "Parasite", "Love Her All I Can" and "Makin' Love" had not been part of the live set for a long time and it was indeed a treat to hear them performed again. KISS also had begun the practice of adding non-makeup era songs to their set and this was a welcome change since so many good songs came out after their makeup removal in 1983. As a result we find "Lick It Up", "Tears Are Falling" and "Unholy" on the film and these were MTV Staples at the time of their release. During this tour there were all sorts of added tunes and I felt KISS could have found a place for them on this double DVD. Sadly they did not and while the concert itself is done and shot well they did not add more of the tracks for the ardent KISS fan to enjoy.

The visual aspect of this DVD includes an interesting trick as during the concert segments you are able to select any individual member of the group that you want to focus on. If you want to watch Paul the whole time then you can do that. If Gene or Tommy is more your speed then you can watch them. The viewer has the option to switch between all members and I admit that I only found this cool for a few minutes. I prefer to watch the entire band and the interplay between them. This option of selecting members to view might especially help those musicians who perform in tribute bands and want a study of the particular player they focus on. As a result of this it seems that KISS might have accidentally released an educational video for those people. Those that attended will also enjoy getting to see the stage setup used on "Rock The Nation" for it was an interesting one with a very sleek and dynamic design. There were over a dozen video screens built into the sections of the stage and you would be able to see either videos of the group or computer generated images. I felt it really worked and made the experience a little different for the audience since this stage was so hi-tech and different from past stages. KISS remains garbed in Alive era costumes and this lack of change has surprised me a little bit. I prefer the "Love Gun" or "Destroyer" costumes and thought those should have made a return by now. Perhaps we shall see this on the next tour. The performance level of the guys is great and fans who have not been following for awhile will be impressed at how Paul still can deal out the notes. Gene never changes from his fire-breathing blood spitting Monster and of course Thayer is a really great guitar player. He has come a long way from Black & Blue and his assistant to Gene status and whether you love or hate him in Ace's face you have to admit he plays really well. Singer of course is one of those drummers that seem to slip right into the groove in every band he plays in and he is one of the finer drummers in Rock & Roll today.

The concert itself runs the span of the two DVD's as with this release the bonus features are interlaced with the concert footage. I admit that I am on the fence about this as I generally like the option of seeing the whole concert as a single piece and skipping back and forth between songs. KISS fans will not avoid the bonus features so having them on their own DVD would not have affected how people watch this content. I also felt the features were a little lackluster with simply backstage and meet and greet things rather than in-depth commentary on the state of the band with two original members now. Gene usually always has stuff to say so this would have been preferable to me. Seeing them put on makeup or horsing around backstage is no longer appealing to me after 25 years of supporting them. Among the highlights of the bonus features is seeing KISS do a simple everyday man hobby such as bowling and seeing them perform "Goin' Blind" from one of their Theatre Shows in Australia. The DVD comes in a nice foldout case with a ton of pictures on it and a small book that features more of the same. It is a good addition to your KISS Collection and knowing how most KISS fans work they will buy it whether it was good or bad. This DVD is of course very, very good and worth its cost.

Song Listing
1. Love Gun
2. Deuce
3. Makin' Love
4. the dressing room - bonus
5. Lick It Up
6. Christine Sixteen
7. photo shoots - bonus
8. She
9. Tears Are Falling
10. Got To Choose
11. the meet & greets - bonus
12. I Love It Loud
13. Love Her All I Can
14. I Want You
15. sound checks - bonus
16. Parasite
17. War Machine
18. 100,000 Years
19. the theatre shows - bonus
20. Unholy
21. Shout It Out Loud
22. on the road - bonus
23. I Was Made For Lovin' You
24. Detroit Rock City
25. God Gave Rock & Roll To You II
26. Rock & roll All Nite

Added: March 17th 2006
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: KISS Online
Hits: 3138
Language: english

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KISS: Rock the Nation (DVD)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-17 19:17:17
My Score:

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.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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