Kiss Symphony: The DVD

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

It's unfortunate that Kiss earns very little -- if any -- critical respect for its massive influence and commercial success, and certainly not for its music. But these stuck-up killjoys are wrong. Kiss has a boatload of great, basic rock & roll songs -- just like early Beatles. In fact, Kiss' goal was to be a "heavy metal Beatles" and you can't say that hasn't happened to a significant degree. Kiss' biggest creative challenge since 1981's ill-fated concept album Music from "The Elder" was performing its full stage production with the 60-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in front of 35,000 fans on February 28, 2003, at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, Australia. The 2003 two-DVD set Kiss Symphony: The DVD chronicles the ambitious concert. This experiment from vocalist/bass guitarist Gene Simmons, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, drummer Peter Criss, and new lead guitarist Tommy Thayer comes off quite well. (It's too bad that original lead guitarist Ace Frehley wasn't part of this. Both Frehley and Criss would float in and out of the band at various times during these years due to conflicts with Simmons and Stanley, reportedly over salary disputes as hired hands. Kiss' early-'90s drummer Eric Singer would rejoin and don Criss' makeup and costume in the catman's absence. Thayer, who assumed Frehley's spaceman persona, was a former member of Black 'N Blue.) The conception and execution of this project is covered in detail in a lengthy documentary segment. It took three months to plan the show. Simmons and Stanley meet with conductor David Campbell to discuss the logistics. The first rehearsal does not go well; the orchestra only saw the sheet music that day and there was difficulty synchronizing with Kiss. Fortunately, it didn't take too long for things to jell, and the orchestra members, who actually put on Kiss makeup, enjoyed the experience. Act one is Kiss alone playing "Deuce," "Strutter," "Let Me Go Rock and Roll," "Lick It Up," "Calling Dr. Love," and "Psycho Circus." The 12-piece Melbourne Symphony Ensemble comes out in act two to join an "unplugged" Kiss for "Beth," "Forever," "Goin' Blind," "Sure Know Something," and "Shandi," a straightforward pop song and big Australian hit single from 1980's Unmasked. Act three brings forth the complete orchestra fusing with Kiss to create exciting arrangements of "Detroit Rock City," "King of the Night Time World," "Do You Love Me," "Shout It Out Loud," "God of Thunder," "Love Gun," "Black Diamond," "Great Expectations," "I Was Made for Lovin' You," and "Rock and Roll All Nite." These songs are among Kiss' most bombastic, so the orchestral parts push them even harder. This is by far the most interesting part of the concert, because the songs either had orchestral flourishes originally or lend themselves well to the new arrangements. "Great Expectations," from 1976's Destroyer, is perfectly re-created with the help of the Australian Children's Choir, and the youngsters also sport the Kiss greasepaint. The rock/disco hit "I Was Made for Lovin' You" also benefits from the additional instrumental accompaniment. Bonus extras include a full band interview on the Australian television show Rove Live! along with a performance of "Sure Know Something" featuring the Melbourne Symphony Ensemble. The music on this DVD is also available as a two-CD set with the revised title Kiss Symphony: Alive IV.

blue highlight denotes track pick