Revenge In Dayton (Zodiac 014)
Ervin J. Nutter Center, Dayton, OH, USA – November 25, 1992
Disc 1 (54:50) Opening, Creatures Of The Night, Deuce, I Just Wanna, Unholy, Parasite, Heaven’s On Fire, Domino, Watching You, Hotter Than Hell, Firehouse, I Want You incl. Drum Solo
Disc 2 (54:38) Forever, War Machine, Rock And Roll All Nite, Lick It Up, Take It Off, Strutter, I Love It Loud, Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, God Gave Rock And Roll To You II, Love Gun, The Star Spangled Banner
Paul Stanley says in the Behind The Mask book that Bob Ezrin did arguably one of the worst records they made (referring to The Elder) and one of the best (referring to Revenge). The Revenge record was a real return to form and the heaviest record since Creatures Of The Night some eight years earlier, interestingly Creatures and Revenge have something else in common as both feature some songwriting by Vinnie Vincent. Released in May 1992 the records first single and video was the incredible “Unholy”, one of the bands heaviest and evil sounding songs in some time and the video was really good also, nice to see the band return to the black after a decade of having a more glam appearance. Gene for sure benefited from this with his black hair and goatee he certainly looked more demon like. The tour for Revenge featured the band playing more of their classic 70’s music and the decision was made to record three shows for what would become ALIVE III and the Konfidential Video.
The recording featured on this new release from Zodiac captures the band immediately prior to the ALIVE III recording dates and finds the band in superb shape. This is an excellent, perfectly balanced and much enjoyable soundboard recording, it is more bare bones and the audience is low in the mix. The tape does, however, suffer from some tape speed issues throughout the recording, some more noticeable than other. When I first started listening to this show it was on my car stereo and it was hard to tell. When I finally put it on my home stereo it was clearly heard, in the grand scheme of things this is more of a minor quip and does not diminish my enjoyment for this title. It sounds like an issue with the tapes themselves versus poor mastering.
The band again utilizes “Creatures” as an opener, for me a no brainer and succeeds in giving off tremendous energy and firing up the crowd and listener. “Deuce” quickly follows and Gene demands “I Wanna Hear Ya!” the crowd responds, new drummer Eric Singer is a strong addition to the band as his hard hitting style is a perfect compliment to the rhythm section. Bruce Kulick is a solid player; he always has the nice balance of keeping the old solo themes Ace had while giving it his own stamp. Paul greets Dayton and tells them this is the last show before they record the live album and the band blast into “I Just Wanna”, he also leads them on a brief sing along of the songs underlying four letter work for copulation.
“Unholy” is just as heavy live that it is on record, it starts with some riffs that set the tone and again Bruce plays some tasty leads on this song and the drum fills are quite nice also, a full band effort. “Parasite” follows, very little between song banter as the band is hitting the audience hard and heavy, this is the first of some gems the band has in store for us. Very little of the bands mid 80’s material is left in the set, “Heaven’s On Fire” is one that still works, the crowd thinks so, you can hear them scream their approval as Paul does his falsetto intro for the song. Gene gets a lot of love on Revenge, he had the first and third singles on the record and his second was as enjoyable as the first. “Domino” is just flat out cool and for me the song has a real ZZ Top vibe that just really works, live it is no let down either.
The band goes in some real Grateful Dead territory next; they begin a nice long three song jam. To introduce it Paul tells the audience they will not let off bombs till the end as they want to crack the ceiling! Bold statement for sure. One song I can listen too over and over is “Watching You”, they give it a nice little twist to bring it into the 90’s that is cool. One of my favorite KISS riffs is augmented by the superb playing of Eric Singer, his playing is just thunderous and he plays the song with finesse. Just when you expect the song to end they flow right into “Hotter Than Hell”, Paul takes some lyrical liberties to further explain what he would do. One of the bands beloved favorites some fresh for the new decade, in keeping with the continuity the song leads right into “Firehouse” hence the Dead reference. The classic brings the house down, the classics keep coming with “I Want You”, Paul gets the audience into it and gets them to sing along with the opening lines and they do so to perfection, even low in the mix. The song is very powerful live and is a fine addition to the set, it also includes a guitar solo from Bruce and an Eric Singer drum solo with some help from Paul, nothing like the solos of old this is more a short and sweet and even an “Oh Susanna” (or Hee Haw music) harmonica solo to boot.
The second disc begins with “Forever”, the sole representative from the Hot In The Shade record, not a huge fan of the power ballads but this song makes me think of Eric Carr and I really dig it, Bruce plays the perfect solo to boot. From the ashes of the soft music comes the drum intro to “War Machine” that literally kicks you in the butt, heavy as hell its back to business. “Rock And Roll All Nite” is played earlier in the set, not as an encore as usual, nonetheless it deserve its spot in a KISS show (as does “Black Diamond” sadly missing from this segment of the tour). “Girls…Girls…” is Paul’s lead into “Lick It Up”, Paul has his needs and it’s their time to comply. One can take the time to enjoy an important part of the KISS sound, the backing vocals are very good and are as always a full band effort.
Paul does a good rap about getting naked, I have been to Dayton and it could be an iffy thing, Paul has no issue with it and the band play their ode to working girls who dance for a living. For most of the dates the band would have some of the finest talent in a particular area to come onstage and assist, this night is no different and we are treated to pure KISS sleaze. The girls inspire the band for their next song, “Strutter” as Paul sings their praises, praises that I am sure are well deserved. “War Machine” and “I Love It Loud” are almost linked in their extreme heaviness; the latter is just a ton of lead dropped on you and certainly one of Gene’s best songs. Paul tells the crowd the last song is about a city they will be visiting next and the band, whether an opening song or a set ender “Detroit Rock City” is a live staple and as much as I like the recorded version on Destroyer, the song just delivers in the live setting.
The band is brought back for more, the crowd has not forgotten the promise of blowing the hell out of Dayton, “Shout It Out Loud” starts the encore section and is quickly followed by “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II”, the bands cover and update version of Argent and a cover that I absolutely love. Paul and Gene share and trade verses are just so cool and it really works for the live set as well as the movie soundtracks. “Love Gun” is the last KISS song, it like the rest of the show is just high energy and superbly played. It segues into “The Star Spangled Banner” ala Hendrix and the band fulfill the promise of explosions and tunefully sounds like a bit of a disappointment after all the expectations. A superb concert and one can only wonder if the band wished they recorded this date for the live record.
The packaging is simple full color inserts featuring both live shots and posed pictures while keeping it nice and dark to go with the Revenge motif. While there is the tape speed issue for this reviewer it did not really effect my enjoyment of this title, it is one that fits nicely on my shelf. Zodiac continues some really nice metal titles and hopefully more are lined up.