Love ’em or hate ’em, Kiss revolutionized the live-entertainment industry, creating the circus-like spectacle captured on the 1975 concert smash Alive. More than 25 years later, the reunited quartet performed a “farewell tour,” taping this vibrant 2001 show in Japan with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and most importantly, lead man Ace Frehley.
Let’s be honest about Ace – he was no Jimmy Page or Joe Walsh on guitar, but when the Bronx bomber whips out a sloppy solo on “Talk to Me,” it’s joyous. “Firehouse” launches via Stanley’s power chords and Ace’s wobbly bends, delivering more teenage thrills, while Gene’s thrash-fuzz bass pummels “God of Thunder.” Even the positively neanderthal “Lick It Up” rocks hard with Frehley instead of Vinnie Vincent. In retrospect, the Spaceman remains an undisputable Les Paul-thru-Marshall hero.
As for Soundboard, its big, echoey mix re-creates the ambiance of an arena-rock show, turning bubblegum fodder like “Calling Dr. Love” into respectable crunch-pop. For genuine hard rock, fire up “Black Diamond,” “Cold Gin” and Ace and Paul’s finest tandem-guitar moment, “Detroit Rock City.”
Okay, it’s not Beethoven, but these guys knew how to rock and roll all nite. Proven here, when Frehley was in the band, Kiss was all-aces.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.