KISS KRUISE V
Oct 28 – Nov 3 2015
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
KISS Kruise is an annual festival which is held on a most luxurious cruise liner in the Caribbean. The event brings together the band’s most loyal and die-hard fans around the world. What makes this event unique, is the fact that fans can hear rarities and obscure songs that the band does not play elsewhere. The band is also very interactive with fans. Everyone has access, for example, to get a picture with the band and everyone will get signed memorabilia. The band members are involved in various activities. Paul Stanley was cooking pizza in front of people and Gene Simmons and his family were judges in belly flop contest. Tommy Thayer played guitar solos and the competitors tried to recognize the solos and Eric Singer was judging “almost famous” competition where KISS cover bands were playing against each other. The whole Kruise is about KISS, of course, but the line-up also included many other great bands and artists. This year included: Steel Panther, Lita Ford, Fozzy, Dead Daisies, and a number of smaller bands. This report is a synopsis of KISS Kruise V including the concerts and other interesting events. Read on!
KISS SAIL AWAY SHOW
For many, the KISS “Sail Away” concert is the highlight of the entire cruise, because then the band plays songs which they do not normally play. In previous years, the show has always been acoustic, but this year the band made an exception and performed electronically, but still without masks. In recent years, KISS has played live shows some of the same type in other places, but these are still rare. Before the show the band’s longtime director of Doc McGhee, came to the stage and wished to welcome cruisers fifth KISS Kruise. Next, he called Kiss Members to the stage one by one and then the show began with rarely played “Flaming Youth”.
Although Stanley said that there is a reason why certain tracks are not played in a long time, one can only wonder why the “Flaming Youth” has not been heard live on after 1976. “I Stole Your Love,” and Simmons classic “Ladies Room”, which was not performed after 1978, came next, and both sounded very good. It was great to hear “Strangeways” (which was heard live for the first time since 1975), and “Mr.Speed”, which now was now performed live first time ever! Other highlights were “A World Without Heroes,” “All The Way”, “Take Me” and “Main Line”. Unfortunately, the set did not include many of the band 80’s era songs?! The only song from that period was “Hide Your Heart”. At the end of the concert the band also played a clip of “All Hell’s Breakin Loose,” which would have been amazing to hear in full. But part of the band clearly could not play it, so that was about it. Overall, this show was very enjoyable. In particular, dressed in black, Stanley was in very good spirits. His vocals sounded great and he clearly enjoyed on stage. The same cannot be said Simmons who just stood on the stage looking like bored throughout the show. The man is clearly not interested to perform without a demon mask on his face.
If someone does not know by now – Steel Panther is a parody of ’80s hard rock / metal and the whole era. The band’s appearance and lyrics are just licentious. The band played three gigs on the Kruise and it seemed that they were well received by the KISS fans. A lot of humor, boobs, booze, and bad jokes – that’s what Steel Panther is all about. Maybe the funniest moment on the whole Kruise was when the band played their last gig on Monday. Singer Michael Starr invited two poor Asian girls on stage to sing with the band. Of course, the song was “Asian Hooker” and the girls red faces were worth seeing when the song the chorus went “Asian hooker, you’re a dirty little c *** sucker.” Steel Panther is all about humor and good parody, but we all need to remember that they are also top-level musicians. Starr is a terrific singer and guitarist Satchel (Russ Parrish) is a technically brilliant guitarist. Overall, Steel Panther was a good addition to this year’s Kruise and they created a big smile on everyone’s face.
As always, KISS Kruise contained a lot of all kinds of KISS related activities. The band made a general Q & A session and it was really funny one because the questioners were little kids. Gene and Eric both especially had great time during this Q&A.
Fozzy is a metal band led by former wrestler and current radio/TV person Chris Jericho and Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward. Fozzy was originally established in 1996 and the band has released six studio albums including the latest DO YOU WANNA START A WAR (2014). I think Fozzy’s material sounds like the combination of modern bands like Avenged Sevenfold mixed with a lot of 90’s, such as Stuck Mojo. It is not a secret that Jericho is a big KISS fanatic, and the band played well, but I have not still not sure whether this type of band was the right choice for KISS Kruise?
KISS MEMBER ACTIVITIES
- Paul Stanley held a pizza party in the auditorium
- Simmons, and his family, judged the belly flop contest
- Eric Singer was the judge for an “Almost Famous” competition where the KISS cover bands competed against each other.
- Tommy Thayer had a “name that tune” contest, where he played KISS guitar solos which the competitors tried to identify.
All the KISS activities seen on the ship were pretty funny, but if I have to choose the best of them, it was definitely Paul’s pizza party, because it was really something different.
THE DEAD DAISIES
Many people do not know much about the Dead Daisies, so here is a little background information. The band was formed in 2012 in Sydney, Australia by guitarist and vocalist Jon Stevens. So far, they have released several EP’s two full-length albums including REVOLUCION which was released last fall. Although the band is fairly new, they have already toured the world with several big names including Whitesnake, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, and, of course, KISS. But how they managed to do all this in such a short period of time? Simply because the Dead Daisies is a super band in the truest sense. The current line-up consist of Lowy, bassist Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy), drummer Brian Tichy (Billy Idol, Whitesnake), vocalist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Union) and Guns ‘n Roses duo of guitarist Richard Fortus and keyboardist Dizzy Reed.
Some people may think that this band is just about well-known names and old merits, but it is not the whole truth. The Dead Daisies is a damn good and tight rocking band. The band opened a gig with a great version of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band classic “Midnight Moses”. The song fits this band perfectly and I am pretty sure that many people thought that it is the band’s own song. But the band definitely has several brilliant songs from their own production as well. “Mexico” and “The Face I Love” are good examples of this. John Corabi is the perfect complement to this group. His rasp singing and unbeatable stage charisma gives the band a boost that would have been needed in the past. I compare this band’s gig last year show which they did with the original vocalist Jon Stevens. Marco Mendoza is another star on stage. He is a man who have seen it all already, but it seems that he is still really excited about being on stage and perform in front of his fans. It is no big secret that the drummer Brian Tichy is a huge KISS fan. Not only he was wearing a different KISS shirts every night, but his drum solo, which was a 100% replica of Peter Criss’s ALIVE! album solo was absolutely amazing. It is true dedication and when the Dead Daisies later on performed their version of forgotten KISS gem “All American Man” it really was one of the highlights of the entire Kruise.
The former Runaways guitarist and 80’s heavy metal queen, Lita Ford, is best known for the successful album LITA. It included several massive hits such as “Kiss Me Deadly” and “I Close My Eyes Forever.” In the mid 90’s, Lita started a long break from the music scene but returned to stages in 2009. Her latest studio album, LIVING LIKE A RUNAWAY was released in 2012. The band started their Kruise gig with the fast rocker “Larger Than Life” which was followed by a new album song “Relentless” and Elton John’s classic “Bitch is Back”. Lita sounded and looked really good in her tight red leather outfit. The whole band had a lot of fun when bassist Marty O’Brien picked up the famous Gene Simmons Axe bass in his hands and he played a couple of songs with it. It is also worth a mention that the band’s drummer, Bobby Rock, played in former KISS guitarist’s band “Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion” in the 80’s. The set list included all major Lita Ford hits, a few new album songs, and The Runaways classic “Cherry Bombz”. Lita Ford’s band offered a good, nostalgic and entertaining rock show with all the spices.
KISS INDOOR SHOW
KISS ALIVE! was released 40 years ago! The album is, without a doubt, one of the most important albums of the band’s career, and is also known as one of the best live albums of all-time. This year’s Cruise’s theme was built around ALIVE! and it surely shared the fans opinions. On the other hand, the band now plays ALIVE! in its entirely and they will use the original costumes and the original stage, great! But the main idea of the KISS Kruise has always been that there the die-hard fans will hear rare and obscure songs. Now the set list kit is already known in advance, so whether it makes sense or not…?
When the curtains were opened, the KISS ALIVE! stage was there for all to see. Truth be told, it was a little disappointing when the stage is not used in the original KISS logo or even the original candlesticks. Or were they certainly visible on the stage but they both had been created in digital form only. Just like the album, the show started with “Deuce” followed by “Strutter” and “Got To Choose”. The band played the entire ALIVE! in its original order. Also, the drum and guitar solos were done in a bit of a modified form. Although the fire breathing and the bombs were missing, the gig was a pretty entertaining and nostalgic experience. The Alive costumes looked good, and the band’s playing was fresh and lively. Stanley’s voice was now in better shape than it has been in a long time. Even “100,000 Years” sounded good now, as it has at times been painful to listen to. Singer and Thayer took care of their roles in both absolute and professional grace. Simmons was in his element even if, truth be told, he was very tired at the end of the show. During the last song “Let Me Go Rock’n Roll” Paul broke a guitar and the air was filled with confetti.
When ALIVE! was played through, the band took a small breather before the encores. I am sure that the audience was waiting now to hear something rare at this point but the band decided otherwise. “I Stole Your Love” and “Ladies Room” were the only encores, and then the show was over.
THE SUMMARY OF KISS KRUISE V
In summary, this year’s Cruise, I would like to say the following. The conditions on the cruise were once again impressive. Especially the day in Jamaica was something unique. The whole program was a very well put together package. The ALIVE! show was visually a spectacular and unique experience. But if I’m honest, I missed hearing more rarities and surprises, and maybe that’s why the Sail Away gig was for me this year was the Kruise climax. As I mentioned earlier, the Paul Stanley Pizza Party was definitely the best band activity this time. And if we talk about other bands, Steel Panther was definitely the most entertaining band of the ship. However, musically, I was more into Dead Daisies.
In November 2016, we will have the next KISS Kruise. The theme this time is the “Creatures of the Night Tour 1982”, so it is again something to look forward. See you there!