Budokan Dai Hall, Tokyo, Japan – Sunday April 2, 1978
Disc 1(48:01) SE / Monitor Check, Introduction, I Stole Your Love, King Of The Night Time World, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Let Me Go Rock And Roll, Makin’ Love, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, Guitar Solo, I Want You
Disc 2 (46:52) Calling Dr Love, Shout It Out Loud, Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Drum Solo, God Of Thunder, Rock And Roll All Nite, MC, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Black Diamond
To close out the ALIVE II tour, KISS would play five shows in Japan at the prestigious Budokan Hall. The ALIVE II tour was a continuation of the Love Gun tour and would feature the band at the top of their game musically as well as the massive stage set that would cause fans to salivate at its sight. All five concerts were sell outs but unlike the band’s first trip to Japan, bootleggers and collectors have had nothing from this tour. Back in 2011 Tarantura started releasing concerts from the second Japanese tour and all have been from the same source, the vast Mr. Peach archives and the quality has been what we have come to expect, superb. Let’s look at this new release, it is the fifth and final night at the Budokan and is the fourth of the KISS releases documenting this tour. The catalog numbers on the spine represent this fact and also give us the hope that the as of yet fourth night, April 1, will someday see the light.
Peach was in the same row as the first and third nights and his seat was in a position between the two, there is not a picture of the ticket on the sleeve of the second night, March 29 aka Makin’ Up, Makin’ Love. The quality is what we have come to expect from Peach, full dimensional recording with excellent sound. The recording is well balanced with all instruments and vocals being clearly heard, the recording does have some upper frequency distortion, it affects the vocals more than the music. The recording has that perfect balance of music versus audience and the crazy atmosphere is perfectly captured.
The band would play to sell out audiences each of the five nights, the 11,000 strong would propel KISS to excellent and aggressive performances. I Stole Your Love is a great opener, Ace is playing great from the first get go and Paul acknowledges him as the song is ending and transitions into King Of The Night Time World. Ace has issues with his guitar at the beginning of the song but by the time they hit the chorus it is remedied. A song for all the “Beautiful girls of Tokyo” is Paul’s intro for Ladies Room and has the audience clapping along and Peter does a great stripper beat for Paul to strut out with a fire helmet on for Firehouse, much to the chagrin of the audience. KISS would make little changes in the set list of the Love Gun tour into the ALIVE II tour, one change was dropping Hooligan in favor of Let Me Go, Rock And Roll. Let Me Go is just an ass kicker live, Paul gets a little crowd participation going and leads them in a shout of “Rock And Roll” as a prelude and Ace is on fire with his solos.
KISS has a surprise, something “special for Tokyo….Ace Frehely…Shock Me” is certainly the highlight of the first disc. His solo is excellent, at times his use of echo and other effects sounds as if he is exercising his inner Page and is conjuring up Dazed and Confused. His leads are fluent and blistering, very well played and the song and solo brings the house down.
Calling Dr Love begins the second disc, you can really hear the vocal effects Gene uses on this song and at times sounds almost demonic. Peter’s drumming is really good, he is molesting his kit leading to incredible results. A standard Shout It Out Loud leads to a major solo section for the group. It begins with a Gene solo get the audience in a near frenzied state, the notes coming from his bass is unearthly and as he spews blood, the audience seem somewhat shocked, one only has to look at a blood covered demon on the rear cover to get an idea of the effects. God Of Thunder starts with what sounds like a miscue with Gene entering early catching the others a bit off guard. The song is, as usual, a vehicle for Peter’s drum solo as well. He plays superbly, he has over four minutes and goes through a variety of textures that has the audiences screaming in support of the Catman, towards the end Peter can be heard shouting “C’mon!” and the audience certainly responds.
Rock And Roll All Nite has a loose feel to it, being the last concert in Japan and the end of an exhausting four years the band lay it all out. Ace lays waste to his solo, he continues even as the chorus begins to great effect. Certainly one of the better versions of the song, even as loose as it is, the good time feeling brings out that little something extra for the band and audience. The audience chants of “We Want KISS…” start and do not end until the band comes back minutes later. Paul starts by thanking the audience from each member of the band and tells them they would not be back for a while, (that while would be ten years) and the band launch into Detroit Rock City, again with a great loose vibe to it. Beth is great, Peter does a typically heartfelt rendition of his classic ballad before a demanding audience. Black Diamond is the final encore and while the band has to be near exhaustion, you would not know it. Paul’s intro features some nice Hendrix inspired feedback and Paul saying Domo Arigato before doing his vocal. Peter is feeling it and again cries out “C’mon Tokyo”, you can hear in his voice he is tired making his vocals even more passionate. The finale wrings the energy from the band and while the music fades the legend of the golden era of KISS starts.
The packaging is standard Tarantura, a gatefold sleeve with pictures from the Budokan shows as well as publicity photos done exclusively for the Japanese market. The front cover with the “Maiko” girls shows the contrast of the beautiful and vibrant color of the girls and the black and white members of KISS. The other three Budokan 78 releases also came with an OBI, this release does not but comes with a 12 page booklet packed with live and posed shots, a picture of the ticket stub and master cassettes and the whole package is typically high quality. Although Tarantura has supplemented their KISS offerings with a variety of different concerts, their Peach source ones are special and in my book, must haves.