I hope you aren’t too jealous when I tell you this was one of the hottest shows ever performed by the band in any line-up configuration because, if you missed it, your KISStory timeline lacks a key ingredient. Thank god for Youtube — we can go back!!
It was April of ’94, the Revenge Tour was over, MTV Unplugged would be in August, and soon there after KISS would re-unite with Ace & Peter to conquer earth a second time. Of course, we had no clue then.
See, KISS always finds a way to stay in front of their audience. This was just another example of them being creative in coming up with cost effective solutions to do so while biding there time for, as always, what’s coming next.
The band had decided to do a couple of radio-sponsored one-off’s as it were to help promote the new venture / album, KISS MY ASS, in which a host of music legends would be performing & recording their favorite KISS songs at Gene’s behest including Toad The Wet Sprocket, Anthrax, The Gin Blossoms, Lenny Kravitz, Garth Brooks and even (yup) Stevie Wonder! Only KISS sets up their own tribute album. Well, at least then anyway; the duets may be coming soon.
Little did we know, and let me know if I am wrong, but this show may be the very last time Bruce Kulick performed live in concert with the band ‘plugged’ as it were and the very last performance of the Kulick/Singer/Stanley/Simmons roster.
Maybe that’s why they gave it so much love but it makes me wonder (yes, it makes me wonder) if they knew this might be the case. Or, maybe they were just rarin’ to play, having been off the road a bit and now performing without, as Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap once said, “all the mucky-muck” of a full blown tour scenario.
Another cool thing was that the boyz performed a set list picked entirely by fan voting that unearthed GOIN’ BLIND, I STOLE YOUR LOVE, STRUTTER, and, a major highlight, a hot version of GOT TO CHOOSE. As I recall, and listen back now, Bruce played his very best and seemed way more comfortable in this setting, on a small stage with encroaching amps and an audience he could reach out and touch. Eric Singer, who is always solid anyway, played seemingly inspired getting to play some of the cuts that he and Bruce had perhaps never played live with the band.
Want more gravitas? The band performed on a completely stark stage with no effects whatsoever: no KISS sign, no smoke, no blood, Only the banner of the now-defunct Chicago station The Blaze that stood behind them. For us Chicagoans it was refreshingly blue collar and natural, like seeing Cheap Trick @ Cubby Bear or something. This was like a gym with a stage on one wall, no seating, no stands. A mid-western barn-burner of sorts.
At the time, it was the best I had ever heard them. And so was the sound itself. Given the fact that they just flew in with guitars, the less robust PA resulted in a way warmer sound than the typical KISS concert. But what really struck me as a KISSTorrian was seeing and hearing the living breathing proof that KISS, with no frills, in an intimate setting, were simply a top flight rock & roll band firing on all cylinders. That night it felt to me like they had finally become as close to classic KISS as possible with the new line-up. They had seasoned as a group. Even KISStory has it’s irony.