Sound: There are few fan bases as fiercely dedicated as the KISS devotees, and frontman Paul Stanley has proven that their dedication is still warranted after 35 years. While Gene Simmons is busy doing reality shows and collecting residuals from various KISS memorabilia, Stanley continues to pursue what originally earned him fame in the first place: music. His 2006 tour in support of the album Live To Win is the focus of the new concert DVD One Live KISS, which at 2 hours is jam-packed with a variety of old standby hits and rarer solo tracks. Because Stanley does delve deeply into his lesser-known solo material, the DVD might not be for everyone. That being said, at 56 years of age Stanley still can give lessons in showmanship to plenty of young up-and-comers out there.
Filmed at Chicago's House of Blues, One Live KISS features 19 live tracks and a short-but-sweet prologue. As brief as it is, the prologue is the perfect opener with Stanley providing background on his life before fame, particularly his days as a cab driver. When you hear him talk about driving people to see Elvis at Madison Square Garden and collecting all his earnings to buy that one guitar or simply rehearse, it's pretty phenomenal. That inspirational story segues into the first song of the show Live to Win, which could easily have been a Rocky theme song. Right off the bat Stanley is in prime form, with his vocals as strong as ever.
It's true that Stanley might not have quite as much agility as he did in the 70's or 80's, but the enthusiasm hasn't waned in the slightest. During the show he tells the sold-out Chicago audience that he would be playing all his own favorites, and luckily that includes plenty of KISS classics to keep the masses appeased. Love Gun, Lick It Up, Hide Your Heart, Detroit Rock City, and Strutter are among the most well-known selections, but solo tracks like Tonight You Belong To Me, Goodbye, and Bulletproof offer up some of the most memorable moments of the night as well. And of course, you've got to love his cheesy comments. It's hard not crack a smile when Stanley says things like, Chicago, you have always welcomed me with open arms and legs.
The audience is fairly intimate in comparison to some of the arenas that Stanley has played over the years, but this was a crowd that was obviously filled with diehards. Some of the most interesting moments are during various sing-alongs (I Want You inspired plenty of participation) or when the fans showed off their various KISS-themed attire (from the trademark face makeup to a scrolling LED sign). Stanley amazingly sounds as good as ever in the vocal department, and he's not afraid to show it off. I Want You features Stanley improvising a variety of different whoas that last for several minutes, and he manages to tackle falsettos, shouts, and everything in between during that time. // 9
Overall Impression: One of the most entertaining aspects to the DVD is that after all these years, Stanley is still very much the same performer as he was 3 decades ago. From the way he continually primps his hair to his colorful wardrobe to his crowd interaction, he's a master at what he does. And even more impressive is the fact that he gives a good deal of attention to his house band. The relatively unknown musicians could have been a secondary addition, but they are given recognition and camera time throughout the One Live KISS. The star of the show is still Stanley, however, and if you were ever an official member of the KISS Army, you should immediately get your hands on this DVD. // 9