Wet Wild Rockin': The KISS Kruise (The Godfatherecords G.R.702/703)
Miami to Half Moon Cay & Nassau Bahamas, October 13-17, 2011
Disc 1 (77:52) Sail Away Show 13/10/2011: Intro, Hotter Than Hell, Calling Dr. Love, Sure Know Something, Christine Sixteen, Do You Love Me?, Shandi, I Love It Loud, Forever, See You Tonite, Black Diamond, Hard Luck Woman, Beth, Every Time I Look At You, The Elder Medley; Just A Boy-I-Mr. Blackwell, Anything For My Baby (partial), Two Timer, C’Mon And Love Me, Rock And Roll All Nite. Electric Show 14/10/2011: Room Service, Two Timer, Coming Home
Disc 2 (79:52) Strutter, Nothing To Lose, Love Her All I Can All The Way, She, Take Me, Going Blind, Parasite, Rock Bottom, Got To Choose, Shout It Out Loud, Lick It Up, C’Mon And Love Me, Hard Luck Woman, Beth, Rock And Roll All Nite. Soundcheck 14/10/2011: Coming Home, Two Timer. Live at The KISS Kruise 15/10/2011: Getaway
With what is probably the brain child of Gene Simmons the KISS Kruise set sail on October 2011. The band played one acoustic set out doors on the ship’s deck and two indoor shows in the ships intimate theatre as the theatre was so small it could not accommodate everyone. The Kruise attracted the hard core fan base who were rewarded with a set list that went deep into the bands catalog, they respond in spades. Thankfully for us there were fans who recorded the events to posterity sake, I downloaded a DVD of the acoustic and Q & A session and thought it was great and was looking forward to this Godfather release since it was announced.
The first disc is primarily the acoustic set and the recording is very good stereo, there is a lot of crowd participation and the fans are like the fifth member of the group. Since the concert was outside on the ship deck there are times of wind noise can be heard and the taper does seem to adjust his equipment to compensate. Over all a very nice capture and the band put on a fantastic show to boot.
“…Is This Crazy ?….Crazy ! This is nuts. So we get to do something we’ve never done before with the craziest fucking fans” is Paul’s reaction to the fans and part of a nice introduction where he salutes people from across the world who have come to join the festivities. The band play a nice slow version of Hotter Than Hell to start the proceedings, for an acoustic outside performance they are able to get a nice fat sound, the crowd do as asked and help with the chorus as needed and there is an intimate atmosphere over the proceedings. While the band do not stray from the songs original arrangements it is great to hear a song like Dr. Love, Tommy Thayer plays a great solo, not an easy thing with on an acoustic guitar.
The next couple songs are perfect for the acoustic, Sure Know Something from the Dynasty record has nice harmony vocals from the band and audience alike and is warmly received. Christine Sixteen translates well to the acoustic treatment, the Gene rap part is great. The audience adds small parts during the song, “yeah..yeah..yeah” that is spot on. Full audience participation is reserved for the next song, Do You Love Me ?, they share the vocal duties and shout their approval throughout. Again the acoustic arraignment gives some of these songs more dimension and the interplay of bass, rhythm and lead guitars is perfect. Paul asks the audience is any kiwi’s are here as the band breaks into the down under hit from Unmasked, Shandi. The crowd acts as the choir during the song and features some nice drumming from Eric Singer, at the songs conclusion Paul says “We’re actually better than we thought”, I can only agree. “A song build for the acoustic guitar” is next, if there is such a thing as a heavy acoustic song, I love It Loud gets the award. Gene has them in the palm of his hand, they sing the chorus and follow his every command and roar their approval at its conclusion .
Forever is a no brainer since it was almost all acoustic to begin with. I always liked the Bruce Kulick guitar solo from this song and Tommy Thayer does it justice. A nice surprise is the song from Gene’s first solo record and one that was dug up for the Unplugged event, See You Tonite. The song dates back to the late 60’s and shows a different side of Gene and is clearly inspired by The Beatles. The set list begins to get more interesting, they play great renditions of Black Diamond (Paul lets you know where the explosions should be) Hard Luck Woman sung by Paul and the Eric Singer sung Beth. While not even in Peter Criss’ vocal class he does the song justice with help from the appreciative audience. The improvisation section is next, first they play Every Time I Look At You from the Revenge record, Paul does not know all the lyrics but the audience does and it makes for a great, intimate version with Paul complimenting them for the help.
Next is a great Elder medley beginning with the band fooling around and Paul singing the Just A Boy lyrics and the crowd goes ape shit, then Gene goes into I and the crowd again helps with the lyrics and the whole band join in, he then follows up with a quick version of Mr. Blackwell. the noodling continues when Paul breaks into the Dressed To Kill song Anything For My Baby and why not, they are in the company of friends who obviously graduated from KISS U as they know the bands catalog inside and out and the whole thing has a jam session feel. Paul concluded with “know why they call them obscure songs ?…there not the best”. The fans think differently. Again they go back to Dressed To Kill for Two Timer and it is much tighter as the band rehearsed it for the electric sets.
The song flows right into C’Mon And Love Me, the crowd again handle the vocals perfectly and the band play a fast tempo and superb version of the song. The set is brought to a close with the standard Rock And Roll All Nite, the set can be considered a triumph for the band, they put on a tight and loose, professional and very intimate performance that is a joy to listen too.
The remaining three tracks are from the first electric set on October 14. The recording is again very good, the music is well balanced but slightly over powers the vocals but captures the atmosphere very well. The set list is amazing and focuses on the Hotter Than Hell and Dressed To Kill records. The band hit the stage with Room Service from the DTK record, the electric version is faster paced and more confident than the acoustic. Paul tell the crowd that when they tour they do not play certain songs as they are obscure but they know them and they play another from the DTK record Two Timer, both songs have not been played live since the mid 70’s but sound vibrant and refreshing. Paul talks about the Unplugged project when introducing the next song and guarantees no one has heard a live electric version of the next song, Coming Home from Hotter Than Hell. An obvious crowd favorite the crowd sings and claps along with the band throughout and roar their approval at its conclusion.
The second disc is the continuation of the October 14 electric set, Paul again thanks the crowd and says they would like to do the Kruise next year (it is scheduled for October 2012) and they plow through Strutter and Nothing To Lose and as promised they intent to play the older material and the crowd eat it up, the sing with the band through out the latter. In some recordings it would become tiresome but it adds the atmosphere of the event. The band go deep for the next eight songs beginning with Love Her All I can from DTK. The song dates back to the Wicked Lester days and has a nice fat riff and harmonizing that make it work effortlessly and Thayer nails the solo.
Next is All The Way from Hotter Than Hell, again a song you would never hear live anywhere else, the song is typical Gene Simmons lyric and features some great Eric Singer drumming, he nails the stop and go tempo beautifully. She gets a nice reaction from the audience, while not as obscure as the others it is a great version with both Thayer and Singer playing very well. Take Me has the bands typical lyrics of sexual innuendo and is aggressive and fast paced and is well appreciated by the audience.
Paul introduces the next song from the HTH album, Going Blind is a classic and was inspired by Mountain’s Theme From An Imaginary Western and Tommy nails the feel of the original solo perfectly and wrings its out. The band follows with Parasite from the same record, fast and furious I love the way the entire band joins in at the beginning, this version is no different, Eric Singer plays nice quick mini solo too boot. Rock Bottom gets the extended intro treatment that has the audience in total anticipation, they roar their approval as Paul teases them a little before starting the main riff, once started the crowd claps and sings in unison with the band and drown out the vocals in the process.
The song is linked nonstop with another Klassic from HTH, Got To Choose. a personal favorite from the record I love the Whohoo vocal parts. Killer stuff indeed.”This is one of the newer ones this one is 35 years old…” is Paul’s intro to Shout It Out Loud that garners laughs from the audience, again full participation from the audience is given who are given the chance to Shout It Out Loud during the sing along part.
The band follows with an extended seven and half minute version of Lick It Up with a kool Won’t Get Fooled Again interlude, the song is more of a celebration than a note for note rendition, the crowd is having a great time clapping and singing the chorus and give the band a loud ovation at its conclusion.
One of the best songs from DTK and a live favorite finishes the main set. C’Mon And Love Me has one of my favorite lyrics and some nice playing by Tommy who, of course, emulates the solo’s Ace played so well. Acoustic versions of Hard Luck Woman and Beth are next, the crowd sings along with Eric on the latter giving the song a special feeling, I much prefer the acoustic versions versus the orchestra piped over the PA versions. Only one song can finish the night, Rock And roll All Nite is full on audience participation and is as much the crowds song as the bands and is a total celebration of all things KISS. A great performance .
The first two bonus tracks are from the evenings sound check and is from an excellent recording, the sound is much fuller and there is no crowd interference to rival the music. Coming Home is fast and has some great drumming from Eric, his fills are great and add a much heavier vibe to the song. Two Timer is not as confident version and sounds if the band is still getting used to playing it live. The last song is from the electric set on October 15 and is from the Dressed To Kill record. Getaway was originally written by Ace and sung by Peter as Ace did not have the confidence to sing the lead. Tonight Eric takes the lead vocal and the band give a great rendition of the song and a fine way to finish this set.
The packaging is the tri fold sleeve adorned with the official Kiss Kruise graphics and pictures from the concerts themselves, the electric show live shots are great, simple stage set up but very KISS in every way.
Great to see the Dressed To Kill record get some much deserved attention also. If the KISS Karton was like the Christmas tree full of presents this release is like a stocking full of goodies. 2011 was a great year for KISS releases, let’s hope for more of the same in the new year !