Kiss – Invades Japan 2013 (Zodiac 044)

Kiss - Invades Japan 2013Invades Japan 2013 (Zodiac 044)

The tour to support KISS’ latest effort, Monster, arrived in Japan in mid October 2013 and was made up of a short four day trek. For this new release, the folks at Zodiac have commemorated the event with this new deluxe four disc set featuring the first two shows from the tour (the last two dates were both played in Tokyo). The source for both show are audience recordings with the band giving a nice cross selection of material that spans their illustrious history and a couple new songs thrown in for good measure.

Makuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan – October 19, 2013

Disc 1 (44:13) Introduction, Psycho Circus, Shout It Out Loud, Do You Love Me?, I Love It Loud, Hell Or Hallelujah, War Machine, Sukiyaki, Heavens On Fire, Calling Dr. Love, Say Yeah

Disc 2 (65:58) Shock Me, Outta This World, Tommy & Eric Solo, Gene Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Lick It Up, Love Gun, Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, I Was Made For Loving You, Black Diamond

First night of the Japanese tour finds the band playing the Makuhari Messe Arena, the audience recording is excellent albeit slightly distant recording that has no audience interference near the recorder, in fact the audience seems quite restrained. The sound is clear and all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard, it does have a nice fat bass sound to it and sounds excellent at loud volumes, although you will have your walls shaking for sure.

A drone is played prior to the “Hottest Band In The World” introduction and the band hits the stage with Psycho Circus, a well proven opener and we get our first taste of the band, musically they are a force to be reckoned with, vocally you can certainly tell Gene and Paul are older but for me they both sound in voice as they harmonize for the chorus. Eric Singer is a great drummer and a wonderful addition to the band, his starts of the evening with a flurry of fills. Shout It Out Loud follows quickly before Paul addresses the audience, firstly in Japanese and finally in English showing he is one of hard rocks finest front men. A great addition to set list is Do You Love Me? from Destroyer, the tempo seems a little slower but the harmonies are good and the band turn in a fine version. The first of two songs from Monster is the opening track on the CD, Hell Or Hallelujah. The song has been a mainstay of the tour and by this time the band is playing it with much confidence as evident by the nice ovation it receives. War Machine follows on its heels and is notable for the inclusion of the siren from Firehouse played at the songs conclusion as the band jam out the ending.

Paul sings the Kyu Sakamoto 1963 international hit Sukiyaki during this tour, the audience clap along and seem happy with his appreciation with their musical culture. Another nice addition to the set is the last song on the first disc, Say Yeah from Sonic Boom. It is met with almost no applause but the band is unfazed and play a barnburner version of the song. I like the Sonic Boom record and for me, this is  another set highlight. One thing that certainly divides KISS fans is not the addition of Eric and Tommy Thayer into the band, it is the fact that they where the Catman and Spaceman costumes and make up, I am sure they are also divided on Eric singing Beth or Tommy singing Shock Me. While he certainly is not Ace, he can play a hell of a guitar and does a decent job singing, as evident as the band play a bit of Shock Me as a prelude to Outta This World, the song he sung on the Monster album. Shock Me is played with balls and Out This World is all out Rock and Roll and for me sounds like vintage KISS. Great riff, great chorus and the perfect vehicle for solos from Eric and Tommy, done in jam form. This is something that is excellent, they get a chance to flex the musical muscles without it being self indulgent. Some of the jam is pretty heavy and almost in the doom category, it does elicit much applause from the audience.

Gene gets his solo, far from the days of a series of random notes used for an excuse for blood letting, he actually plays some nice riffs that evolve into a demonic sounding thing before the sound of gothic gongs heralding the coming of the one, true Demon. Gene and Eric play the first notes of God Of Thunder and brings the audience to their feet, Gene yells “Let Me Hear Ya” and they simply comply. This version is slow and ponderous and sounds very heavy, and I like it, Eric plays the drummer pattern perfectly. Love Gun finds Paul going out in the audience to sing the song, the sound changes as if the taper had to adjust his position, it clear a bit but sounds much more distant. It does go back to normal for the rest of the concert.

For the encores Paul asks “What would you like to hear now”, clearly they want Cold Gin, but the band plow into Detroit Rock City amid a bunch of well timed sonic booms much to the audiences delight, as is I Was Made For Loving You, the latter sounding a bit tepid and flat. Black Diamond brings the proceedings to a climatic close in fine KISS fashion. Paul plays and extended solo intro that has the audience clapping along, he plays a bit of Stairway To Heaven to great effect, he stops and says “We love that song…” then asks them to help with the introductory verse. First night in Japan, the subdued audience makes for a sedate, yet well played concert.

Osaka-Jo Hall, Osaka, Japan – October 21, 2013

Disc 3 (51:26) Introduction, Psycho Circus, Shout It Out Loud, Do You Love Me?, I Love It Loud, Hell Or Hallelujah, War Machine, Sukiyaki, Heavens On Fire, Calling Dr. Love, Say Yeah

Disc 4 (69:18) Shock Me, Outta This World, Tommy & Eric Solo, Gene Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Lick It Up, Love Gun, Black Diamond, Detroit Rock City, I Was Made For Loving You, Rock And Roll All Nite, God Gave Rock And Roll To You II

A day off gives the band time to travel for the second show on the tour in the city of Osaka, the taper got to his seats early and begins the recording early, we can hear AC/DC If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) being played over the PA, Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll follows and gets a huge cheer from the crowd, some even clap along in anticipation for….rock and roll. The recording featured here is not as distant sounding as the previous night, since we are closer you have some audience noise but where the previous concert the audience was very quiet, during this show they are ready from the first note making for, IMO, a much better listening experience as the atmosphere is well captured. All instruments and vocals are clear and well balanced.

Psycho Circus has the audience on their feet, Shout It Out Loud has them doing just that as the energy level is very high, Gene changes a lyric to “Osaka have a party” for good measure. I am guessing that the taper was one side of the venue as during the break between Shout and Do You Love Me? Paul does some left to right audience shouting that gives you an idea of the size of the crowd. Do You Love Me? sounds much more powerfully in this recording, lots of clapping along, the audience is also glad to be hearing this song. Paul does a bit more talking between songs, he introduces I Love It Loud and the call and response at the beginning is perfectly handled by the audience. Prior to Hell Or Hallelujah Paul tells the audience of a Monster, not Godzilla but a KISS Monster that garner much applause from the audience.

Paul tries and hit some high notes, he does not really push it but for the third one he gets the accapella highs for the intro for Heavens On Fire. The band is playing with and infectious energy fueled by the audience, they help with the middle chorus and clap along with the band making for an excellent version of the Animalize classic. The good times keep going with Gene giving a great vocal on Calling Dr Love, again the audience is in the palms of their hands, Tommy plays a great solo ala Ace on the song.

The band jam portion is next, it follows the same pattern as the Chiba show beginning with a forceful Shock Me that makes me wish they would play the whole song instead of just two verses. Outta This World is again great as is the Eric and Tommy jam. I did not see this tour and am much excited to see (and review) the Monster In Zurich DVD to see what the visuals were like. The band switch up the set ender, this night Black Diamond gets the nod again featuring a bit of Stairway in the intro much to the delight of the Osaka audience. After the cheers for more the band return and Paul again asks “What can we play” and tells then they are waiting for their drummer, Eric appears and checks his drums with a little bit of Moby Dick. The first encore is a storming version of Osaka Rock City. I Was Made For Loving You is a bit better than Chiba, Paul sounds as if he is whispering the lyrics in an attempt to be seductive? I like this song but these to version sound flat, thankfully Rock And Roll All Nite delivers as only it can. The taper kept his rips going after the show, capturing the PA announcements while God Gave Rock And Roll To You II plays in the background, sadly it was not played live. All in all an excellent concert, much more enjoyable than the Chiba one thanks to the wonderful audience.

The packaging is really nice full color inserts of posed and live shots of the band along with official Monster graphics. The CD’s have pictures on them, the same one for all four discs featuring the picture from the front of this release. This is an excellent release, there have been only one other silver release from this tour and to have another one in superb quality is great, 2013 was a great year for KISS bootlegs, hopefully the New Year brings more of the same.

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