Madison Square Garden (Eat A Peach EAT 79)
Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, USA – February 18, 1977
(75:02) Introduction, Detroit Rock City, Take Me, Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Makin’ Love, I Want You, Cold Gin, Ace Frehley Guitar Solo, Do You Love Me?, Nothin’ To Lose, Gene Simmons Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Criss Drum Solo, Rock And Roll All Nite, Shout It Out Loud, Beth, Black Diamond. Bonus Tracks: Calling Dr. Love (Alternate mix), Calling Dr. Love (Instrumental)
For such an important piece of Kisstory, surprisingly there are no previous audio documents of KISS’ first headline appearance at the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York City, collectors only real taste of this concert is the pro shot video. Some DVD titles are Alive 1977 (Crime Crow Productions CCPDVD 056) and Rock And Roll Over New York (Way Of Wizard WOW 201). For this new title from Eat A Peach we are treated to a soundboard recording of the entire concert, from giving this a couple spins it sounds like it is sourced from a video, it is a well balanced and clear yet somewhat flat soundboard, there is a decent amount of audience mixed in and there is noticeable hiss during the quiet parts but overall it sounds good loud. There are a few tape issues where it sounds like it was munched, first during Take Me at 1:01 – 1:10, then during Makin’ Love from 1:30 to 1:50.
While some consider this a somewhat sloppy concert, I find it just a solid performance with the band’s energy level at 110%. Who could blame them, just three years ago they were some up and coming opening band no one wanted to know, now they are one of the biggest hard rock outfits in America. The massive hometown gig, billed as the “Triumphant Return Of The Conquering Heroes” the gig was a complete sell out. I think Peter said it best “In those early days the Garden was my dream. I remember passing the old Garden when I was 10 years old. I was with my Mom, and I said “Ma. I’m gonna play that place someday for you”. And I did. It was the biggest moment of my life.” This is definitely a Peter show, he is on his game the whole night. The band storm through the set like they mean business, there is little time for talking and the whole set is like a one two punch. The set list is typical for the time. The new music from Rock And Roll Over sounds fresh and is strong, especially the duo of Makin’ Love and I Want You. It was reported that Ace spent the day partying and could not even sound check, one listen to the ragged beginning of Cold Gin and one could assume the story is true. While the version starts off loose, midway Ace starts going off filling in with some really nice and almost erratic leads. Nothin’ To Lose has some great Peter vocals, God Of Thunder seems to have a bit of swagger in it, Peter may have had some issues as the marching patterns he usually plays is replaced for the first minute by him hitting just his bass drum. While the majority of the show seems almost rushed, the ending is spectacular. While still a little rough around the edges, you will not here a more passionate set of songs in any other KISS concert. Rock And Roll All Nite features lots of interaction from Paul, Gene, and Peter, while the song is not a personal favorite, this version kicks ass. Beth is great, you can feel Peter’s emotions as it seems like he takes a minute, onstage alone to look around and take it all in. Black Diamond, like Rock And Roll All Nite, just a powerful version where you can just hear the guys locking in and delivering a death blow.
There are a couple of interesting bonus tracks, studio out takes of Calling Dr. Love. From what the diehards say they are mixes taken from the video game Rock Band. Nonetheless the quality is excellent, both versions sound the same except for the first has vocals, the second does not. I personally would love to hear more of the Rock And Roll Over demos, if they ever come to surface.
The packaging is typical Eat A Peach, mini LP style sleeve with pictures of KISS towering over there Manhattan skyline. There is a booklet included that has old news paper clippings and an expanded view of the MSG structure as well as a picture of a ticket stub. Perhaps the picture that really makes the set perfect is found on the back cover, it is KISS posing with their parents and manager Bill Aucoin pre show to this auspicious occasion. Cool release, another Peach of a title, certainly one KISS fans will really enjoy.