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KISS & Def Leppard Concert Review, Austin, TX, July 12, 2014

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Last night I saw KISS and Def Leppard for the first time.  I still have to process that in my head.  I still really can’t think of a legitimate reason on why I didn’t go see KISS in the 80s.  They were the first band I ever loved.  No matter.  I saw them last night.  Not seeing Def Leppard before is easy to explain.  Hysteria came out and I hated what they became.  I first heard them when Pyromania came out when Stephanie S. had the cassette on my middle school bus and let me borrow it.  I liked that album a lot.  Shortly after I heard the first two and thought those were even better.  But Hysteria just didn’t do it for me.  I will say, however, that I have the utmost respect for Rick Allen for coming back after losing his arm. It was also cool to finally see Vivian Campbell live, even though he wasn’t playing any of his own stuff.

As I have stated many times, my brother, Robert, was a huge influence musically on me at a very young age and when he brought home Dressed to Kill, I was hooked.  But with KISS, everyone loved them.  My oldest brother, Mark, was also a big fan.  I can remember the three of us sitting around listing to Rock and Roll Over in the 70s and those times will always remain special to me.

KISS played the Frank Erwin just a couple of years ago and I still didn’t go.  I think in recent years the fact that they have Tommy and Eric in Ace’s and Peter’s makeup bothers me.  When the show at the Austin360 Amphitheater got announced, my friend and coworker “G” and I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger and get tickets.  We’ve known each other since I moved to Texas as he was my first boss here.  He switched companies and after 7 years, we ended up working together on a current project.  It’s great for both of us most of the folks on this project aren’t cool.  haha.  We get along well and and have become good friends over the last 14 months.  He brought his wife, Ms. G, to the show and I brought my friend Lauren who accepted my offer to go just the day before the show when my original date fell through at the last minute.

Canada’s Kobra and the Lotus were on when we were walking in so I never actually got to see them play but they sounded fine from a distance.

We grabbed drinks and found our seats right in time for Def Leppard to hit the stage.  The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again was playing when the curtain dropped and DefLep played it live to end the song.  They promptly went into Let It Go and I was happy.  Great song.  They mixed the set up with a decent mix of High N Dry, Pyromania and Hysteria and one from Adrenalize (gross).  The whole band sounded excellent and Joe Elliot’s voice sounded good.  He made no effort to hit the notes he knew he couldn’t hit and that was cool.  Their set overall was enjoyable, even with many of the songs being from Hysteria.  I only liked the title track on that one.

You wanted the best, You got the best!

KISS came out opening with Psycho Circus and I was glad to see that one get out of the way early.  They went into Deuce, Shout It Out Loud and War Machine and I have no problem admitting to being a little choked up.  KISS means a lot to me historically.  They sounded great.  Sure, Gene and Paul’s voices aren’t what they used to be, but those dudes are in their 60s and still sound strong.  Paul looked in great shape.  He’s obviously working out these days as his arms are quite muscular.  Gene’s playing was fine and of course Eric and Tommy were spot on.  Consummate pros.

Towards the end of the set, they go into Love Gun and Paul flies up to a platform that was about 15′-20′ from our seats.  It was quite amazing to be that close.  He was about to go into Black Diamond and there was a quick lull in his speaking and I screamed out, “We love you, Paul!”  He looked right over at me and said, “I love you, but you gotta represent!” and then went right into Black Diamond.  It was quite awesome.  Right at the 8 minute mark of this video.  You can’t hear me but you can hear Paul respond.

During KISS’ set, G tapped my shoulder and said look up.  We saw 2 lights moving fast that were close together in the sky that split apart and then just disappeared.  Granted, the venue is right next to the airport, but it was a little odd.  Definitely not a commercial liner and with the lights just disappearing on a clear  night, it was a bit odd.

The whole show was quite special and I couldn’t be much happier right now.  It was another great night with great friends and great music.



My Life With KISS

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I first heard KISS in 1975 when one of my older brothers brought home DRESSED TO KILL. Before even hearing it, I asked, “Why do they look like evil clowns?” Anyway, this is where my life-long affection for heavy metal began…with KISS. It was only shortly thereafter that I head the first Black Sabbath album. Now follows my album by album review of the first band I loved.

KISS – 1974
Going back and listening to this album again after a few years, it still sounds fresh to me. There are only a few songs on here I never cared for: Firehouse, Kissin’ Time, Let Me Know and The Love Theme From Kiss. For a debut album, this was a good one. KISS were pretty far ahead of the curve and were already smart with marketing. They were doing something new with the makeup and were just starting to take NYC by storm. I would say my favorite songs from this LP are Black Diamond and 100,000 Years and gotta love Strutter.

Hotter Than Hell – 1974
This one is in my top 3, if not my favorite album by them. Great album artwork, great songs, it had it all. Production was a tad lacking but it didn’t hurt the balls of this album. Favorite songs are Goin’ Blind, Mainline and Parasite and there are no real stinkers in the bunch.

Dressed to Kill – 1975
Again, my introduction to hard rock/metal. This album was pretty good but nowhere close to what Hotter Than Hell had going. I can remember sitting in my brother’s room after school listening to it over and over. His original LP had a skip in it about halfway through Two Timer and to this day, it still sounds wrong when I hear it without the skip. The only song on there I don’t like and really never did was Rock and Roll All Nite.

Destroyer – 1976
The KISS Army is growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to join. This is a great album beginning to end. Detroit Rock City and Shout It Out Loud are way played out, but for their time, they were definitivie rock anthems. God of Thunder and King of the Night Time World are my faves. Ever hear the Wicked Lester version of God of Thunder with Paul singing? It’s pretty cool. Beth was pretty wimpy but I had the 45 when I was a kid and having it made Cindy Clary from across the street want to be my girlfriend. hahaha

Rock and Roll Over – 1976
This is in my top 3 as well. Every song on it good although I could live without Baby Driver. I never cared much for Peter Criss’ songs. My favorites would be I Want You and Ladies Room. This LP still gets heavy rotation in my player, always as.

Love Gun – 1977
This album never did that much for me but KISS were marketing geniuses by this point. It has some really good songs on it but for whatever reason, I only found it to be average. Stinkers: Got Love For Sale, Tomorrow and Tonight and Hooligan. Gems: I Stole Your Love, Shock Me, Christine Sixteen and Plaster Caster.

Dynasty – 1979
The album everyone loved to hate. No, it wasn’t a great album and KISS probably was (posthumously) trying to get on the dance phase, but it still wasn’t that bad overall. Their cover of 2,000 Man was awesome. Ace was showcasing his voice for sure. I always liked I Was Made for Loving You. Yes, it was different for them but it was catchy which was a trademark of theirs.

Unmasked – 1980
I remember reading interviews with KISS about this album coming out and how we were all going to see their faces finally. All of us fans were pretty stoked about that. Then it hit the streets and everyone was like “WTF?” Brilliant marketing once again by the masters. The album wasn’t that good overall. Shandi, Tomorrow and Two Sides of the Coin are the standout tracks, and they aren’t even that good.

Music from the Elder – 1981
Peter left? Who could ever replace such an average drummer? Enter Eric Carr. I know so many KISS “fans” who have never even heard this album. I have always liked it. Talk about progressive? This is KISS being progressive. Too bad it wa such a miserable failure for them. It had some really good songs on it…World Without Heros (Gene cries in the video and Paul plays a great solo), I, Mr. Blackwell, Odyssey. I like the whole album, but it’s so very different. By the way, nice hair, guys.

Creatures of the Night – 1982
This is such a fine album. War Machine, Saint and Sinner, Creatures of the Night, Killer. The weak track would be I Love It Loud, only because it got so played out on the radio.

Lick It Up – 1983
They lose the makeup and we find out why they wore it to start with. This is a pretty damned fine piece of music for KISS. They got heavier and still kept their trademark cheese factor in tact. Exciter, All Hell’s Breaking Loose, Not for the Innocent and A Million to One are my faves. I even like the title track. Dance All Over Your Face is probably the worst song on here.

Animalize – 1984
I think I am one of the few people who liked this album beginning to end. Heaven’s On Fire (awful video) and Lonely is the Hunter are my two faves.

Asylum – 1985
OK, here’s where KISS really starts to lose it. I blame Kulick. Other then Tears are Falling an King of the Mountain, this album was pretty awful.

Crazy Nights – 1987
WTF? Hell or High Water is about the only song I can stomach from this one. It was just bad.

Hot In the Shade – 1989
Then it got worse. Forever was an OK song but this album just sucked.

Revenge – 1992
OK, let’s wear a bunch of black leather and try to be a metal band. Sorry guys, it didn’t work. Unholy was better than anything on the last few records, but it was just so blatantly contrived. The real metalheads saw right through it! haha. That being said, Domino is probably in my top 5 all-time favorite KISS songs. It’s perfect.

I just couldn’t be bothered with anything else after that one. I didn’t review Alive or Alive II as I’ve never been a big fan of live albums. I don’t have either one of those in my collection although I have thought of picking up Alive lately since it’s got such a good set list.

Written by The Metal Files

November 30, 2008 at 3:50 am