Rockford 1982 Soundboard (No Label)
Metro Center, Rockford, IL, USA – December 31, 1982
Disc 1 (49:30) Intro, Creatures Of The Night, Strutter, Calling Dr. Love, Firehouse, I Love It Loud, Cold Gin, War Machine, I Want You, Vinnie Vincent Guitar Solo / I Want You (reprise), Rock And Roll Hell
Disc 2 (53:07) Shout It Out Loud, I Still Love You, Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Drum Solo, God Of Thunder (reprise), Love Gun, Paul Stanley Guitar Solo, Black Diamond, Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City
This new KISS release from Zodiac is the recently leaked soundboard recording of the New Years Eve show from 1982 at the Metro Center in Rockford, Illinois. Portions of this recording will be included on the official 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe set due mid November 2022. The story behind the leaks has not been fully told needless to say there have been even more soundboard recordings that have surfaced since the ones from 1982/83 I spoke about on the Sioux City release, two from 1979, two from 1985, and one from 1986 have all recently been announced by Zodiac, it’s a great time to be a KISS fan!
There is the audience source from New Years Eve in Rockford that was released 10 years ago as part of the incredible The Lost Tapes (The Godfather Box G.R. BOX 12) box set released by Godfather Records. I did pull that set out to check the set list and was really blown away by the set as a whole. The packaging and presentation is incredible and extremely well done, those Godfather box sets were always something special. Needless to say the soundboard recording featured here is a massive improvement in sound over the audience source. In fact the Rockford soundboard is also an improvement over the Sioux City one I previously reviewed. The balance is better throughout and there is a fuller sound, the band also plays more focused. If there is one defect in the sound is that it has a bit of top end distortion but nothing that is overblown or distracting. Starting the tour in smaller markets allowed the band to get used to being onstage and get the bugs worked out as well as building the musical chemistry.
“Alright Rockford…You wanted the best and you got the best…The hottest band in the world…KISS!”, the klassic introduction precedes the band hitting the stage with the fury that is Creatures Of The Night. One thing that hits you is the band is firing on all cylinders musically and vocally, the later finds the backing vocals being well mixed and sung by Gene and Eric. Vinnie is also ready for battle, his leads on the opening song are excellent and concise. Strutter is hot on its heels, Paul gives a really passionate vocal on this one, Gene does as well during the chorus where he punctuates “Strutter”. The energy is contagious and Paul’s first rap is the same as the previous evening, all about not caring about what parents and preachers have to say, the cure is prescribed by Dr. Love.
Paul has it right, it is a hot night for Rock and Roll, the klassics keep coming with Firehouse, like the Sioux City SB, the audience is low in the mix but their presence if clearly heard and they are into it. Although the venue is only at a third of the 9,000 capacity the band play like it’s a sold out stadium and the fans that are there are enjoying themselves. Firehouse is great, has that great KISS swagger and this time the siren works right on cue. I Love It Loud literally has the band almost screaming the chorus as the energy level is high. The crowd falls right into Paul’s rap for Cold Gin, certainly the festive New Years Eve audience has had a few drinks. Gene’s vocals are powerful yet not demon like, just really great as is his bass playing, often overlooked his bass clearly defines much of the KISS sound. Vinnie adds a few finger tap flourishes that gives them a more modern sound, he plays a great solo as well that is nothing like Ace’s giving a fresh take on the klassic.
After a heavy storming version of War Machine it’s time for some solo’s, Vinnie is the first to show his talents as part of I Want You, his solo spot is still not very focused, it is interesting to hear him do the full violin bow segment as the panning from one side to the other is well captured but overall not impressive at all. Even as the solo finishes Paul extends I Want You by getting into a bit of audience participation but the overall effect is boredom. Thankfully we get another version of Rock And Roll Hell, the song works well and one can only wonder why the band dropped it. Paul asks for the time, it’s a bit before midnight, wonder if they were wanting to play Shout It Out Loud as the New Year rings in, nonetheless they lock in full force and hammer out the fan favorite.
The band play a superb version of I Still Love You, it builds in tension and is a full band effort, all four making for one of the best versions I have ever heard. The winds of darkness are blowing as Gene gets his solo spot, the darkness is evident. His bass is very well captured and you can here him striking the strings as he devastates with the primal urge. As one could expect God Of Thunder also delivers in a heavy way, Eric easily replicates Peter’s marching patterns yet adds a bit of Carr flair before getting into his solo spot. This was quite visual as Eric’s set was positioned atop the tank stage set, the mechanized machine of battle. His solo is excellent and the only real solo of any musical substance. His set was massive and he makes full use of it and plays some really interesting rhythmic patterns, a supreme talent.
Paul gives the audience New Years Eve well wishes and instructions for the new year, he then goes into a semi graphic airport security intro for Love Gun. The brief rest during the drum solo gives the others a chance to catch their breath and they are ready for the rest of the show as evident during this blistering rendition of Love Gun. Vinnie plays one of his most Ace like solo’s of the night. Paul gets his solo spot as a prelude for Black Diamond, more of building tension and creating atmosphere it works well, the crowd cheer him on. When the band break into Black Diamond proper it is very heavy and hits you like a freight train, Eric’s vocals are great as he has a decent voice but it lacks the soul of Peter’s voice. Having him take the Peter vocal is the perfect decision and he sings with a lot of energy. Vinnie takes his own path for the dramatic lead section and it’s really good, the tank’s treads are moving and the ending comes in bombastic fashion.
The soundboard recording ends with Black Diamond, Zodiac uses the audience source for the last two songs, they do not use Godfather’s version but the audio from a CD-R title by Shades. It’s a shame the label did not use the Godfather version as its sound is superior to the Shades. The Shades sounds like the volume was increased and the hiss suppressed, the sound is almost metallic and lacks the depth of the Godfather. Although I prefer the sound of the Godfather, I applaud Zodiac for adding the audience source to complete the concert. A superb performance by KISS, they brought their A game to Rockford and deliver a really good concert…Rock And Roll All Nite isn’t just a song, it’s a way of life.
The packaging is a variation of the Sioux City release, lots of cool live shots and one posed photo with official 10th Anniversary Tour graphics make for a very appealing visual presentation. The soundboard and performance are excellent, KISS back on the attack playing what they should be, Hard Rock.