Rock n Roll All Night - with Strings Attached

KISS - Telstra Dome, Melbourne, Australia, 28 February 2002

When it was announced late last year that KISS would be returning to do a one off performance in Melbourne, Australia complete with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra backing the US legends of shock rock anticipation was somewhat guarded. After a succession of highly priced farewell and then re-union tours you could understand even the most staunch Kiss fanatic being somewhat reserved at this show being a one off, let alone it being an over the top Kiss production when they were being backed by a Symphony Orchestra. Still as legend has it no one puts on a show like Kiss and although this was the 'Kiss meets classical music' performance the anticipation certainly did build with Melbourne's Telstra Dome Stadium filling until it could be filled no more. As the lights dimmed the gig was indeed Sold Out!

At the press conference for the Kiss Symphony Show flamboyant Kiss star child Paul Stanley promised 'Beethoven and Mozart would rise from their graves' nudging for a front seat for this one off spectacular and after witnessing the 60 piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra completely transformed in Kiss war paint it didn't take Einstein to figure that something extraordinary would indeed go down in Melbourne.

So on with the show! As an appetiser Kiss members in what seemed to be their Alive era costumes off their own steam powered through a short set of classics in vintage heavy rocking Kiss style. Opening with Deuce the band were at their bombastic live best with all the poses, pyro, blood, grit, and charisma that qualifies them still to this day as one of the biggest and most exciting rock groups in the world. Travelling through decades of material this fearsome foursome further belted out the likes of Strutter, Let Me Go Rock and Roll, Lick it up, Doctor Love and Psycho Circus as their kick start to the night.

New boy to the line up Tommy Thayer (former Kiss tour manager on the last few tours) in complete Ace Frehley costume and make-up did an exceptional job many arguing him a better technician than the real Ace. With Frehley a no show for this re-union gig Tommy seemed to be accepted with thumbs up by the fans even featuring on a huge 'Tommy Rocks!" banner out front. I guess even Thayer himself must have been pinching himself. Despite having a past in original outfits Black N Blue, Harlow and Shake the Faith it would definitely have been a buzz to be onstage part of the real Kiss after recent years pretending to be Ace in LA club Kiss tribute band Cold Gin. To be expected no Ace Frehley fronted songs were part of tonight's performance which although not the be all and end all the missing material still did take way from this being the complete Kiss performance is perhaps could or should have been.

After a short break the band were back with some 10 Orchestra members returning for an acoustic slant . Original drummer Peter Criss making a welcome return to the Kiss spotlight taking command of the stadium, a sea of fans accompanying him during his signature tune Beth.

The hits continued to flow with symphonic punch. Forever, Goin Blind, Sure Know Something and Shandi rounding off the second bracket before a re-plugged Kiss would re-enter the arena with more Melbourne Symphony Orchestra musicians further building their very own lethal Kiss army backline of strings, brass, wood and wind.

Kudos to David Campbell for his months completing arrangements with the Melbourne Symphony, transforming classics like Detroit Rock City, God of Thunder, Love Gun, Shout it Out Loud to new dimensions. A definate highlight being the epic Black Diamond which totally brought the house down.

The encore of Great Expectations continued the gelling of hard rocking orchestra in grand fashion by passion complete with the Australian Children's Choir adding a city of angelic voices. Ever the showman Paul Stanley took I Was Made for Loving You to new heights before classic show stopper Rock N Roll All Night completed proceedings with total fan frenzy to fulfil the very special night that was promised.

With a bevy of official cameras and recording devices though out the stadium the show was filmed for pay per view television and set to be released for the fans on dvd later in the year.

John Dokken

KISS Symphony Set List

Act One [Just KISS]:

Deuce, Strutter, Let Me Go Rock & Roll, Lick It Up, Calling Dr. Love, Psycho Circus

Act Two [KISS Acoustic with Symphony]:

Beth, Forever, Goin' Blind, Sure Know Something, Shandi

Act Three [KISS Electric with Symphony]:

Detroit Rock City, King Of the Night Time World, Do You Love Me, Shout it Out Loud, God Of Thunder, Love Gun, Black Diamond


Great Expectations, I Was Made For Lovin' You , Rock N' Roll All Night