Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – April 1, 1974
(31:47) Deuce, Strutter, Cold Gin, She, Firehouse, Nothin’ To Lose, Black Diamond
KISS’ first visit to Cleveland in April 1974 found the up and coming band opening for Rory Gallagher at the 1,200 capacity Agora Theatre. Local radio station WMMS would routinely feature live broadcasts of musical acts from the theatre as part of their “Nights Out At The Agora” series and while the station did broadcast Gallagher’s set, nothing has ever surfaced of KISS performance. According the KISS Alive Forever they did not broadcast KISS, but a recording did exist and eventually did surface a few months back to the masses via a couple torrent sites. The recording is special, it is the earliest known broadcast of a KISS concert and since WMMS had been doing live broadcasts for some time one could expect excellent quality. Well, the quality is excellent, clear and detailed with virtually no hiss. The mix does move around a bit during Deuce sounding like the engineer was feeling the new group out. This release, as with the original torrent has almost all the between song chatter edited out, only between Firehouse and Nothin’ To Lose is there, the audience are very low in the mix. Sadly the drawback of this release is that inexplicably they used an incomplete version of the tape as 100,000 Years is not on this release but was part of the torrent that so widely circulated this recording.
The set is standard for this period, the recording starts with the first notes of Deuce and as stated about the mix does move around a bit but settles down for Strutter. Cold Gin is typically solid, it would have been nice to hear the audience respond to it. Curiously after Firehouse we are treated to some tuning, then Peter asks “You’re all out there aren’t ya? Are you ready to rock?” and then they start Nothin’ to Lose and Paul says “People…we’re KISS” and they proceed to play a great version of the song. Black Diamond finishes the set, the song has a famous story of Peter’s levitating drum rising getting stuck up and he passed out due to lack of oxygen due to all the song ending pyrotechnics. A curious concert, the fact that most of the chatter was edited out makes it hard to enjoy, it would have been nice to have some acknowledgement that this is in fact the first Cleveland gig from the onstage banter, after a couple times listening to this concert I am left with a feeling of just average.
The packaging is nice, Zodiac uses photos from the era making for a nice package, there is a sticker and the CD has a picture on it, typical Zodiac. Due to the fact that this release used an incomplete tape, missing 100,00 Years, it is hard to recommend it since the “complete” tape does circulate.