KISS Symphony - Alive IV
Review by John Crooks

As the title suggests, this is a show, and not by half, but thirds. This two CD pack is a live recording under the alive banner, although not the Alive IV that should have come out about two years ago and relegated to the Kiss vaults.

Anyway let's get on with the show indeed. I received my advanced digi-pack copy of the Symphony concert today, recorded on the 28th of February 2003 in Australia. I was very happy with the monochrome embossed digi-pack cover (image below), with the slash of red blood dripping down the left hand side. As Kiss are well renowned for being the Kings of Rock And Roll, what not have a Coat Of Arms too. 

This Crest features a violin and flying V guitar crossed on the centre shield, with the inscription: VIRTUS CONSISTET IN ACTIONE, what ever that means in plain old English. On the bottom right hand corner we have the words: Your Presence Is Requested, so lets go and get KISSSSS ed....................

You Want It, You Got It,

(CD Cover Rear & Front)

(Left & Right Inner Gatefold)

On the initial opening of the pack we are greeted with the stage image (image above) with lighted KISS logo and the title header of this review: WELCOME TO THE SHOW. As we enter the pack via stage left for the first disk of the two, we're greeted with an explosive image (image below) of the Symphony stage, with Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer (alas no Ace, but his down fall for not being there, enough said) and Peter Criss.

(CD 1 Stage Left Tray)

On the first disk has a Rock And Roll Over parody of the saw blade image (image above) from the album cover under the title of: ROCK AND ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. This is coupled with an image of supposedly Beethoven in the four parts Kiss make-up, which I thought looked cool. 

Disk one musically is Act One (KISS on their own) and Act Two (KISS with The Melbourne Symphony Ensemble - twelve orchestra members). The disk running time is of 46:52 minutes. 

Act One set list features: Deuce, Strutter, Let Me Go Rock & Roll, Lick It Up, Calling Dr Love and Pyscho Circus. This section runs for 27:41 minutes. 

Act Two set list features: Beth, Forever, Goin' Blind, Sure Know Something and Shandi. This second section runs for 19:09 minutes.

(CD1 & CD2)

As with the first CD, disk two is of the same design, but the Beethoven image (image above) is facing in the opposite direction. On this stage right section of the digi-pack, we have the second half of the explosive stage image (image below) from stage left image. This photo has the one an only Paul Stanley, and the rest of the whole stage stacked with amps and pyro and the Melbourne Crowd, cheering and waving the Band and Orchestra on.

(CD 2 Stage Right Tray)

This second disk is the third instalment of, Act Three (KISS and The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra). In this final Classical (I use this term loosely) act, the set list features: 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, and the grand finale Rock And Roll All Nite.

The pack also includes a 24 sided booklet (image below), with the usual run of the mill KISS, Orchestra and credited names. The best thing is some of the best photographs of the band during the live show, including one of KISS with the Australia Children's Choir in the middle. There is a few cheeky photos of the fans, backstage and during the concert. On the back of the booklet there is a great colour, but black and white effect image of the four current KISS men, and it looks like Tommy Thayer fits in very, very well with the look and the image of the new guitar position. I can't fault him in anyway; Tommy and the Spaceman make-up have melded extremely together. Oh, "Rock On Tommy" (sorry, my Cannon and Ball moment there) and keep her lit. 

(Booklet Back & Front)

The inner packaging comes with a twelve segment, two sided poster (sorry, to big to reproduce image here). This poster on one side consists of letters from fans, expressing their thanks to the band and the orchestra for the concert. These letters and notes are from around the world that attended the symphony, judging from the places they have named. On the second side we have more thanks, and a picture off the stage show finale judging by Paul Stanley, holding up two broken guitar pieces that are about to be throw out into the crowd. 

Also included is a single one sided square segment in black with silver writing coming soon advert. This mini-ad gives the low down on the details of the new DVD and VHS recording of the symphony show, including behind the scenes footage and interviews.

Well you say, thanks for the info on the package, but what about the music mister. All I can say is, if you're a KISS fan, you will know the songs, either studio or live. So nothing new there then, or is there? Well, yes there is more to say, the band have pulled off a classical (excuse the pun) live CD (also to be available in limited edition vinyl too). Maybe the original Alive IV (although shelved as stated earlier) album was good, but this is better and far more unique in the recordings. The album is polished to a great clarity musically. The symphony parts are excellent and they add a new dimension to the songs they are accompanying. 

While first act is a straight a head KISS show, with nothing really new as with other live versions. In the second act with the Ensemble, KISS play the softer side of there track history and the Ensemble tag on just beautifully to enhance the ear drums. If you enjoyed Beth live before with the backing tape loop orchestra, you will be amazed with this version, with a real live twelve piece playing along. For the final act, we the listener get the full on rocktasic, bombastic, rockopera that is KISS Symphony Alive IV. This section with the faster, harder edged KISS tracks, really is a monster feature. God of Thunder sounds as if it was made to be this Grandi-oustic (Big and Bash). As for the other songs, I can honesty say, I love the new vib that has been brought to them, through the orchestration. My special moment on this two CD disk set has to be the inclusion of Great Expectations live, a totally fantastic piece to be proud of, and it should have been played more in the past.

I could go on for far more, but that would spoil your fun in the listening process of this compilation (oh no not that word again). I know we are fed up with great hits packages, whither live or studio. This though is different in many ways and worth the 's I have spent in getting it. Another combo it is; you say. Fuck it, go get it, you will not be disappointed in any way (I hope not anyway). 

On closing, I would like to thank my cousin in William Marshal Sunshine, Queensland. He was there; he got me a Symphony T-Shirt and Tour Programme and posted it back to me in Belfast. Only true KISS fans would do that for you, as I would for him. A big cheers & many beers to you cousin (although not Kissin' Cousin, may I add - LOL), you're the very best.

Enjoy the show every, well I did even if I didn't get there to see it in person. To those who did and have the tickets to prove it, all I can say is, YOU JAMMY BASTARDS.

John Crooks.
Belfast, N.I.
18th 7 2003.


Thanks to John for the review and scans

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