KISS KRUISE II feat. KISS, Adler, Skid Row

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REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA

The second Kiss Kruise was settled to depart Miami, Fla. on October 31 — Halloween — and head to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.  The expected return to the port was on November 4’TH. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the plans had to be changed at the last minute, and instead of the Bahamas, the cruisers were visiting beautiful Cozumel Island in Mexico. Packages for the cruise begin at $750 per person, and it included just about everything that a KISS fan can hope for. The KISS shows, electric and acoustic, Q&A session with the band, a cabin photo with the band in makeup, signed posters, and each member of the band leading other activities like Gene Simmons pick throwing contest, Paul Stanley judged belly flop contest, Eric Singer hosted Blackjack –tournament and Tommy Thayer’s costume contest, etc. There were several other acts performing shows on the cruise as well. Of these, the best-known name was Skid Row. The other names included former Guns’n Roses drummer Steven Adler’s new outfit Adler, Leogun, and Radiolucent. The price included all of the above and meals and access to many Norwegian Pearl activities, including the pools, massive spa, hot tubs, rock climbing wall, tennis court, and fitness center. It is no wonder that the cruise was again sold out a long time ago. It now brought together KISS fanatics from over 30 countries, so there’s more to come for sure!

KISS ACOUSTIC SET

The KISS Kruise II was kicked off by an all-acoustic set by unmasked KISS itself. The cheerful band took the stage about one hour after the boat had come off from the port. The set started up with “Hard Luck Woman” and “Christine Sixteen,” followed by “Got to Choose” and Simmons’ bravura “Goin’ Blind.” Paul Stanley was singing great, and the man was continually joking about Gene, who hardly remembered how to play about half of the songs during the set. Especially “Everytime I Look at You” was fun to follow when Simmons was struggling a bit but made it somehow with the help of Thayer, who did show the right chords for him. Eric Singer took his time in spotlights with “Beth,” and for Tommy’s request, the whole band did a great version of “Shandi” but the best parts of the show were when the band played some obscure tracks like “Only You,” “Any Way You Want It,” “A Million to One” and even “All Hells’ Breaking Loose.”  Although those were just brief clips or parts of the songs, the audience went nuts when they did hear those forgotten jewels finally live. The band sounded really good most of the time, and there was just the right amount of humor involved there. Simmons even gave one of his bass guitars for one lucky person in the audience. The setlist was interesting enough and easy to follow, but actually, it was pretty much the same as last year. Hopefully, it will extend a bit more next year?

Hard Luck Woman

Christine Sixteen

Got to Choose

Goin’ Blind

Love Her All I Can

Nothin’ to Lose

Take Me

Any Way You Want It

A Million to One

A World Without Heroes

Only You

Comin’ Home

All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose

Every Time I Look at You

Strutter

Sure Know Something

C’mon and Love Me

Rock Bottom

Beth

Shandi

She

Do You Love Me

Mr. Speed

Shout It Out Loud

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ADLER

Adler is a new band formed by former Guns’n Roses drummer Steven Adler, vocalist/guitarist Jacob Bunton, and guitarist Lonny Paul. The line-up is completed by bassist Johnny Martin who joined the band after the debut album BACK FROM THE DEAD was finished last summer. Of course, it’s Steven Adler’s name and his colorful past with Guns N Roses what people are most interested in here, but the band’s star is definitely Jacob Bunton. His stellar vocals and skillful guitar playing was just convincing. The man is also the band’s main songwriter and mainly responsible for the material on BACK FROM THE DEAD. Tracks like “The One That You Hated,” “Habit,” and “Another Version of The Truth” are all modern and catchy hard rock songs that do deserve the opportunity to be heard by a bigger audience. Of course, it was also great to see Steven Adler back in action. His drumming was as powerful as ever, and the man seemed to enjoy his playing again.  The setlist was built upon the new album, but there were a couple of Guns ’n Roses songs included there as well. And you can’t go wrong with classics like “Mr. Brownstone” or “Paradise City” here. Overall, Adler was a pleasant surprise, and the band is far from being a “Guns’n Roses” cover band, which was my impression before the show. Hopefully, they can keep their stuff together and find some real success on their way up.

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 SKID ROW

It’s a known fact that the guys of Skid Row are huge Kiss fans, but it’s also true that many Kiss fans are also fans of Skid Row, so it was no wonder that the band performed here for the second year in a row. Wisely built “Best of” -setlist built upon band’s first two albums plus a few from THICKSKIN, worked out well. Energetic guitarist duo Dave ”Snake” Sabo and Scotti Hill ran across the stage like in the old days, and bassist Rachel Bolan was his usual punk stylish himself. The latest addition drummer Rob Hammersmith played did a decent job as well, and it did look like he’s always been, and… then there’s vocalist Johnny Solinger. The guy has been in a band for over fourteen years, but for the fans still, he’s the “new guy” is a band.  There’s no denying that he’s a decent singer, and he’s such a good performer, but still, the valuable question is if he is a right fit for Skid Row? It’s tough to judge a show when the band sounds good when the songs are good, but the fact is that there was “something” missing there. Compared to earlier brilliant Adler’s show, this performance left behind a kind of “cover band” feeling… Skid Row was once one of the most successful bands in its genre, and the band sold millions of albums during its heydays in the late ’80s / early ’90s but now… in a way, it was sad now to witness how the band has fallen from its glory days. Perhaps it’s time to think about making some changes?

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KISS

KISS indoor show took its place in a venue called Stardust Theater. The capacity in there was only about 1500, so it would be an entirely different KISS show compared to a regular arena show. The band opened up with “Take Me,” which was a very surprising opener. “Psycho Circus” followed right after. It truly worked out great and would be a perfect opener for the upcoming tour for sure. After a somewhat unexpected start, the set went back to normal with “Shout It Loud.”  The band released its latest album MONSTER in October, and before the Kruise, they had only performed the single track “Hell or Hallelujah” on a live situation. It was now pleasing to hear not just one or two but five tracks played off from the album. “Hell or Hallelujah” doesn’t need an introduction here because the song has already taken its place as a KISS live classic. Simmons’ “Wall of Sound” is a heavy, in-your-face type of song-based on a great riff, and it just sweeps irresistibly forward like a bullet train. “All for the Love for of Rock ’n Roll” is pure 70’s rock with a great groove and strong vocals by Eric Singer. Thayer’s “Outta This World” is definitely of the strongest tracks on the album. It seems that Tommy has finally got his very own signature song with this one. Stanley’s “Long Way Down” is not my favorite on the album.

I can’t help the feeling, but for me, this sounds like a “poor man’s Led Zeppelin.” It did work out better in a live situation, but there’s much better material on the album for sure. Other than the opening and the MONSTER tracks, there were no many surprises there. Rarely performed “Makin’ Love” and “I Stole You Love” were great additions, and “Magic Touch” was played, partially, for the first time since 1995, but other than that, the setlist followed the easy and safe routes. The show itself was pretty much stripped down. There was no blood spitting, fire breathing, a pyro, or other show elements which KISS is best known for. Honestly, I can say that I’m not missing those things at all as far as everything else is working.  Actually, the stage was looking pretty cool with those giant screens and videos running behind. There was an intimate atmosphere at the show, and it made this event a unique experience. The band was in great spirits, and although Paul has recently had some problems with his voice, there was nothing to complain about now. Over two hours and 24 songs, there’s no much more you can ask, right?

Take Me

Psycho Circus

Shout It Out Loud

Hell or Hallelujah

Wall of Sound

Do You Love Me

War Machine

All for the Love of Rock & Roll

Makin’ Love

I Stole Your Love

Outta This World

She

Hotter Than Hell

I Love It Loud

Long Way Down

Magic Touch

Detroit Rock City

Strutter

Calling Dr. Love

Love Gun

Black Diamond

Lick It Up

C’mon and Love Me

Rock and Roll All Nite

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All in all, the KISS Kruise was an entertaining and enjoyable experience. The setting was incredible, and there was enough exciting activity for everybody for sure. If you ask me, there could be some more interesting bands on the bill, and KISS needs to make more changes for the setlist and play more its obscure tracks. But that’s an opinion of a diehard fan, and I think that majority of the fans there were more than happy with what they got now, and that’s what matters when KISS is planning the next year Kruise.

 

FOR MORE INFO GO TO:

WWW.KISSKRUISE.COM

WWW.KISSONLINE.COM

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KISS - Tommy Thayer
KISS – Tommy Thayer
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