You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world, KISS! Thus, the show begins from the second authorised KISS live bootleg in the Off The Soundboard series taken from Virginia Beach. This show originally took place on the 25th July 2004 and featured as part of the Rock The Nation World Tour.
This tour fully marked the return of Eric Singer on drums who once again replaced Peter Criss whose contract was not renewed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. The Spaceman persona was by now fully established by Tommy Thayer after two years in the role of lead guitarist.
Interestingly here, the opening track is Love Gun. From my own recent experiences of seeing the band live, this has often been Detroit Rock City. Which, this time around is moved towards the end of the setlist. It’s always a different dynamic having some of the bands biggest songs being moved around on the setlist and certainly causes excitement whilst listening to this release.
Makin’ Love is included early in the setlist and comes from the Rock And Roll Over album and, as indicated by Stanley: “here’s one we haven’t played in a while.” The good thing about a band like KISS is that there are so many songs to choose from there is no reason why a setlist can become stale.
Tears Are Falling is also another song that in recent years has not massively featured on the set list and comes straight from the Asylum album. It is once again refreshing to hear songs performed in a live setting that have recently not made the live setlists.
With She, we revisit the Dressed To Kill album and this song features Simmons on lead vocals, again this is a track that had not featured on the setlist for a couple of decades. At the end of this track there is a guitar solo from Thayer who wholeheartedly lays the gauntlet down against the naysayers.
I Want You is another from the Rock And Roll Over album that certainly encourages fans to sing along with Stanley from the slow and gentle intro before hitting you like a steam locomotive: “I Want You!”
Included here is the classic Destroyer track King Of The Night Time World. For me it certainly allows Thayer to show his axe skills.
War Machine from Creatures of the Night is another that is not always featured within the recent setlists. This one whilst vocally led by Simmons certainly showcases how comfortable Singer is behind the drumkit.
Simmons fronted Unholy. This track wholeheartedly encapsulates his Demon persona and one of the heaviest from the bands repertoire, this is always great to hear performed live: “I am the incubus, I lay the egg in you, the worm that burrows through your brain”
God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II is an uplifting track but also instils a degree of sadness due to it being the last song that former drummer Eric Carr performed on before he passed away in 1991. It is one of those songs that features both Stanley and Simmons sharing the lead vocals and always gives one goosebumps.
Rock & Roll All Nite is always the finale of a KISS concert and whilst you know that the show approaches its twilight hour, you will be leaving with a wealth of cherished memories.
There are other tracks included within this release such as fan favourites Psycho Circus and Shout it Out Loud along with some rarer live tracks such as Christine Sixteen and Got To Choose.
This album is not just a simple copy and paste exercise from the previous Off the Soundboard release. Whilst there are some staple tracks shared between, they are segmented in different places within the respective setlists which keeps it fresh and benefits from featuring songs that are not always performed on recent tours too. This rendition of the KISS line-up shows why they are collectively still consistently going strong to this day as they prepare to recommence the End of the Road World Tour.
Words: Martin White
Off The Soundboard: Live At Virginia Beach (July 25 2004) is out now.
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