Checking Out “KISS Rocks Vegas” @ AMC Empire 25

Poster - KISS Rocks Vegas at AMC Empire 25

Artist: KISS
Title: “KISS Rocks Vegas” Theatrical Screening
Label: Fathom Events/Eagle Vision
Date: 5/25/2016
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4.5/5

Back in 2014, the legendary KISS hosted a nine date residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at their event space known as “The Joint”. It was a great idea because so many other bands were doing these kind of multi-show events in the recent years but let’s face it, there is only one KISS and that made this residency something a whole lot bigger in terms of the entertainment value that the fans who attended were going to get. Now this kind of history making event is awesome for sure but also is not something that everyone can easily get to and afford since it requires much more than your ticket price. Out of town fans need to contend with travel and lodging costs along with food and drink and remember this is Vegas which is a pricy place to raise that Rock and Roll hell. Fortunately, the Hottest Band In The World decided to capture the residency on video for a special big screen showing, a PPV event and an eventual home video release on DVD and Blu-ray. Thanks to the folks at Fathom Events, NYC was going to get a chance to enjoy the film for the price of a movie ticket and would be showing this at the AMC Empire 25 in Times Square. Our theatre was way up on the fifth floor of the place so it came with a bonus escalator ride with some precarious heights as well.

I arrived a couple of minutes late based on a slow transaction taking place in front of me but that was alright because with the “KISS Rocks Vegas” screening they opted to show the behind the scenes stuff first. Doing this prevented me from missing any of the actual concert film so I caught what I could of the band commentary and how it was all put together and I had to say the band speaking of this residency made me all the more excited for the concert itself. Among the behind the scenes highlights that were most interesting for me was learning how Eric custom made drum set was loaded with LED lights that worked in tandem with the main lighting rig. It was cool to watch this during the film. So now it was time for the famous introduction that would bring out the legendary KISS and the band got started right away with the classic opener from “Destroyer”, “Detroit Rock City”. Now since it was dark I couldn’t see any air guitars or drums being played around me like one might at an actual concert but you could hear the people around you singing along without any issue. Before you ask me if I was one of the voices doing this as well, my answer is “Yes”. Of course I was. I didn’t do any sneak peek into the Vegas setlists to see what to expect during the film which made the whole night one of mystery in terms of the selections. Yes KISS is known for playing the classic numbers and this is their mindset at this stage in their career. Gene maintained how he only wants to hear hits from bands he goes to see and KISS does the same with their shows along with a taste here and there of new material. “Creatures Of The Night” was a cool surprise but “Psycho Circus” was expected since the band has been playing that one regularly on tours over the last few years. Paul spoke to the crowd often during the show as he is really the only one who does this and he made sure to mention that the band was now in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. They sure took their time making that happen didn’t they.

We slid back into the old school for “Parasite” and then it was onto the crushing “War Machine” where Gene will breathe fire at the close. I kind of miss him doing this during “Firehouse” but change is good and the “Creatures” album has so many great songs it was cool to hear another from it. “Tears Are Falling” was unexpected even though the band has been known to play tracks from their non-makeup years for almost a decade now. I was glad they decided to do this because there are numerous tracks of excellence from these years and so many of my younger KISS fan friends only first heard of them with albums like “Asylum”, “Lick It Up” and “Animalize” along with the monster “Revenge” release. Sadly we wouldn’t get anything from those last two tonight but “Lick It Up” had the theater crowd singing as loud as they could while we watched Paul and Tommy rise high above the Vegas crowd and give us that little taste of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as well. Though I am sure these happened during the actual shows, we didn’t get the full drum and guitar solo during the video screening. We did get Gene’s bass solo because that is where he spits the blood and flies high above the audience for “God Of Thunder”. That part of the show still gives me goosebumps. Even as I close in on my 51st year, KISS remains my Rock and Roll Superheroes. The camera work was spot on so kudos to the team getting this done for Eagle Vision because in addition to all the wider concert shots there were numerous playing to the camera close ups by the band and a sufficient amount of audience interaction shots. Some of the audience was in costume and there were tons of kids in the crowd too all in face paint. Awesome.

Another big singalong comes care of “Do You Love Me” (also from “Destroyer) and when they delivered “Love Gun” and Paul flies out into the crowd it was a little more interesting than in the past. This time he would land on an elevated truss as opposed to a smaller platform. This allowed Paul to run back and forth and reach more fans during the song which is surely exciting when he is right there in front of you. Talk about getting some serious Facebook, Instagram and Periscope time. Once “Black Diamond” began I got a little sad because I knew we were drawing to the end of the concert and the film. I think Eric Singer does a great job singing this one and I realize I have likely pissed off all the legacy diehards with that statement. The band would close up with “Shout It Out Loud” and the seminal “Rock and Roll All Nite” which are nothing less than anthems at this point in music history. While the audience was singing there wasn’t any dancing around that I could see happening near me but when each and every song had finished there was applause and cheering and while this is awesome its always amused me when this was done during a film. As the credits rolled the melodies of “God Gave Rock and Roll To You II” played over them and it was time to go. There would be no mid-credits or post credits scene in this kind of film even though it would have been funny had they decided to do one.

I really enjoyed myself and saw several friends here as well tonight which is always cool. I’m looking forward to the eventual release of this video and if you are sad that you missed out on the one-night only screening, it will be shows as a Pay-per View event soon so check your providers for how you can do that and enjoy a KISS concert with your friends in the comforts of your own home. Kudos to Fathom Events for the one-night only screening and don’t forget to mark your calendar for the upcoming Motley Crue one which happens in June to my knowledge.

Track Listing:
1. Detroit Rock City
2. Creatures of the Night
3. Psycho Circus
4. Parasite
5. War Machine @Info[Gene breathes fire]
6. Tears Are Falling
7. Deuce
8. Lick It Up @Info[with “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who as middle snippet]
9. I Love It Loud
10. Hell or Hallelujah
11. Bass Solo @Info[Gene spits blood and flies]
12. God of Thunder
13. Do You Love Me
14. Love Gun @Info[Paul flies out to audience for the entire song]
15. Black Diamond
16. Shout It Out Loud
17. Rock and Roll All Nite
18. God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II @Tape

As this was a film I wasn’t taking any photographs even though I was debating snapping a couple for use in this posting but alas I opted not to. That said there are a scant few side images and the first is my ticket to the film.


Here’s the entrance to the theater that was showing the screening.


This rocking lass is Melissa and she stopped to chat as the crowd filtered out since we knew similar people. Loved the cool KISS leggings she had and her spirited support of the band. I promised I would include her in this narrative.


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