Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meister Spends Some Time on Skid Row

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Skid Row promo poster
"Sebastian who?" was a text I received from a friend during the Skid Row concert in Toronto on Wednesday August 20, 2014.  He was situated across the Virgin Mobile Mod Club in a different vantage point than I was for the show and this text came by the end of the second song of the setlist.  I had caught the live Skid Row experience previously while at Sweden Rock Festival 2013 and learned the advantages of vocalist Johnny Solinger over Sebastian Bach but this was my friend's first experience.  Solinger has been a full fledged member of Skid Row for over fourteen years now, longer than his predecessor, the arrogant Sebastian Bach and handles the material of both eras well, an excellent and crowd appreciative frontman.  Many say things like "No Bach, no Skid Row", but I personally can do
Johnny Solinger-by Meister
without the arrogant, insulting and offensive attitude that we all know Bach to possess, something I witnessed during Bach's performance at 2014's M3 Festival.  In any case Solinger and the rest of the band, originals Dave "Snake" Sabo (guitar), Scotti Hill (guitar), Rachel Bolan (bass) and relatively new drummer Rob Hammersmith delivered a high energy, raucous rock n' roll experience in Toronto that night.  The boys whipped the "decent sized for a Wednesday night" crowd into a frenzy with a setlist encompassing almost everything you'd want from the 
Scotti Hill-photo by Meister
early days of Skid Row and a selection of more recent compositions scattered throughout.  They began with "Let's Go" from 2013's EP United World Rebellion: Chapter One and from there it was over to 1989's self titled debut album for a wicked four pack of "Makin' a Mess", "Big Guns", "Piece of Me" and "18 and Life".  By now the floor was a little tighter packed as everyone surged closer to the stage, fists high in the air, caught up in the frenzy of an awesome rock n' roll show.  We also rocked out to classics such as "Riot Act", "In a Darkened Room", "I Remember You" and "Monkey Business" as well as newer tracks like "Thick Is the Skin", "Kings of Demolition" and "Ghost".
Rachel Bolan-by Meister
 Also in the mix was a Rachel Bolan sung version of The Ramones' "Psycho Therapy" and the three punch to the balls encore set of "We Are the Damned" (from Rise of the Damnation Army - United World Rebellion: Chapter Two), "Slave to the Grind" and "Youth Gone Wild" to raise the house lights.  Grab your copy of Rise of the Damnation Army - United World Rebellion: Chapter Two through this link: Buy: The new Skid Row EP and don't miss Skid Row on tour!  Keep an eye on the Decibel Geek YouTube channel for a couple of videos from the Toronto show being uploaded soon Decibel Geek YouTube Channel

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

(Skid Row Website) (Skid Row Facebook)

PHOTOS: Concert photos by The Meister 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ace's Covers Contenders - Ep151

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It's no secret that we like Ace Frehley around here and the new 'Space Invader' album is in constant rotation in the studio and we can't wait to hear more from the original Spaceman. And on that note....

Recently, Ace announced that the wait for his next album won't be as long as us Frehley fans are accustomed to. In fact, Ace is planning an all-covers album for the near future.

This week Aaron and Chris spin their wish list of covers that they think would benefit from an Ace-lift. You'll definitely be surprised by some of their choices that include songs from Budgie, Billy Joel, Deep Purple, Head East, Cheap Trick and much more! We also share YOUR suggestions for songs that Ace should consider for this new album. Enjoy this hour+ of songs that we want to hear covered by the space cowboy!

Buy Music!

Head East
Deep Purple
Billy Joel
Budgie
Gerry Rafferty
FLIPP
The First Edition
BTO
Cheap Trick
The Normal
George Harrison
Daddy Cool
Thin Lizzy
Ace Frehley

Geeks of the Week:
Todd Cunningham, Robert De Pasqua, David Alpizar, James Brendon Dunn, Brian Bates, Andy Lafon, Billy Hardaway, Derik Novak, Shane Hebert, I-am Hoops, Lee Maslin (Audio Junkies Podcast), Joe Lascon, Matt Syverson (Paperback Rocker podcast), Mike Blount, Brent Walter, Warren Money, Joe Royland, JTB’s Groovy Record Room, Gang Forward, MusicMagsAndWax, Shane Stuckless, Don Nitschke, Nashville Metal Bands, Stitcher Radio, Adam Cox

LISTENER SUGGESTIONS:

Rhys Lett:
KISS – Crazy Nights
Daddy Cool – Eagle Rock (anthem in Australia)

Warren Money:
AC/DC – Back in Black
Van Halen – I’m the One
George Harrison – What is Life?

I-am Hoops:
Rush – Working Man

Brent Walter:
Ace demos – Catch Me When I Fall aka Audio/Video

Todd Cunningham:
Judas Priest – Victim of Changes

Ryan Bales:
Eric Clapton – Cocaine
Rolling Stones – Satisfaction
Jimi Hendrix – Manic Depression

Ben van Belzen:
VVI – Back on the Streets

James Geike:
Sea of Love
Flipp – Freak

Thomas Mucaji/Gregory Muse/Steven Conley:
Deep Purple – Space Truckin’

Robert Jackson:
Free – All Right Now

Paul Wozniak:
Motorhead – Ace of Spades

Mensch Maschine :
The Normal – Warm Leatherette

Kent Bennett:
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

Collins Janus:
Joe Perry Project – Shooting Star

Danny Silvers:
Thin Lizzy – Thunder & Lightning, Bad Reputation, Do Anything You Want to, Havin’ a Good Time, Jailbreak

PJ Brown:  

KISS - 2000 Man

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Oddities of The Meister's I-pod (Meister's Fresh Blood)

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The Oddities of The Meister's I-Pod (or Meister's Fresh Blood)
In conjunction with this week's Decibel Geek Podcast Episode #150-Fresh Blood Vol. #2 in which Chris and Aaron spin tracks from bands that you are probably unfamiliar with I decided to take a look at my current listening selection.  Rather than do a specific album review on each and every one of these I thought that I’d take a quick look at some of the albums playing on my I-pod (actually I don’t own an I-pod and instead have an MP3 player, but you get the idea and I-pod just sounded better) at the moment, something that does change fairly regularly.  I have left out the regular, more mainstream, more well-known names in hopes of introducing you to some new music.

Here’s five reasonably recently released "Fresh Blood" albums that you should take a look at (listen to) that are currently in my listening mix: 

Ammotrack (2014)-Raise Your Hands.  Ammotrack are a Swedish band, one of the many excellent outputs from that Nordic land.  I discovered them when their name appeared on the huge list of bands performing at 2014’s Sweden Rock Festival in early June.  Each year the names and a brief bio on all 80 plus bands of that year’s festival are posted on the Sweden Rock website including links to some you-tube videos so the festival goers can familiarize themselves with the bands.  I liked the brief listen I gave them prior to the event and they did not disappoint in the live setting! Raise Your Hands is a compilation album taking material fromAmmotrack's previous efforts, 2008’s Ammotrack and 2011’s Come Die With Us.  Leading off with the title track, "Raise Your Hands", a new composition it seems that Ammotrack prefers their sophomore album.  Of the remaining eleven tracks seven are from the later issue, however the whole collection is fully loaded with their brand of street rock/sleaze metal packed with anthem choruses and melodic hooks.  A couple of songs to check out: "Living Like An Angel"     /     "Hitman"     /     "Come Die With Me"
Ammotrack Website     /     Ammotrack Facebook     /     Buy: Ammotrack - Raise Your Hands 


Acacia Avenue (2014)-Cold.  At first I suspected that this would be just an Iron Maiden tribute album named after the New Wave of British Heavy Metal pioneer’s song “22 Acacia Avenue” but that is not the case.  This is the brainchild of Denmark’s Torben Enevoldsen who it seems is more of a one-man show than a band, handling the writing, guitars, bass, keyboards and some background vocals!  Aside from the roster of guest vocalists, a new/different voice on almost every track, the only other musician credited is drummer Dennis Hansen.  Having the seven different vocalists also collaborate with the song writing makes for a fresh and exciting melodic hard rock/AOR album from start to finish.  The two Steve Newman sung tracks, the opener of “Time” and catchy vocal chorus of “Angelina” are my favorites but I’d venture to say that there’s not a bad composition in the collection.  Listening selections: "Time"     /     "Love Will Survive"
Torben Enveoldsen Website     /     Acacia Avenue Facebook     /     Buy: Acacia Avenue - Cold
 

Thundermother (2014)-Rock ‘n’ Roll Disaster.  Another Swedish outfit, I seem to have a real penchant for the Swedish metal scene, this time a quintet of ladies.  These girls came across my radar while I was watching another Swedish band (Sister Sin)’s concert video in which Thundermother were the next band on stage and I haven’t looked back.  I caught their spirited set at 2014’s Sweden Rock Festival and have become even more of a fan, wanting to purchase the CD and shirt at the festival (I failed to achieve this).  These ladies could have easily been AC/DC had those guys been younger and of the opposite gender with a little of a punk influence thrown in for good measure, a mix that equals anything other than a disaster!  As for their debut release, Rock ‘n’ Roll Disaster, the lead track, “Man With Blues” gets things going, but it only gets better from there once we get into “The Dangerous Kind”, “Thunderous”, “Please Me”"Shoot to Kill" and “Cheers”.  Chosen by Aaron Camaro to feature on this week's episode and previously reviewed by The Meister (Thundermother Review), take a listen to this no frills, ball busting rock and roll!
Thundermother Website     /     Thundermother Facebook     /     Buy: Thundermother - Rock n Roll Disaster 


Skrou (2014)-Skrou.  Skrou are an unsigned band based in Toronto Ontario.  The name is derived from a play on words using the name of singer/songwriter/founder Sam Kirou.  I’ve had the pleasure to catch the group live on several occasions and they have always delivered a fantastic and spirited set comprising of their original material and some classic 80’s metal covers.  Skrou saw their debut CD issued in January 2014, but songs such as “A Place to Shake”, “No One’s Home”, "Cold Heart”, "Ride On", and “Dirty Little Fantasy” are still members of my ever changing set list.  Behind Sam Kirou we find John DeFino on guitar, R.C. Ricci on bass and Eric Bonatti behind the kit.  Together these guys are booking shows all over southern Ontario with over 70 scheduled so far throughout the summer of 2014.  Skrou are also available for private parties or functions…..maybe it’s time The Meister threw himself a birthday party!  Check out "A Place to Shake" with the recently filmed official video and message the band to purchase your own copy of the CD.
Skrou Website     /     Skrou on Facebook     /        


Battleaxe (2014)-Heavy Metal Sanctuary.  Battleaxe enjoyed a short tenure as part of the NWOBHM movement and existed during the early 80’s, spawning two full length albums.  They re-united in 2010 and Heavy Metal Sanctuary saw the light of day in early 2014.  This album simply kicks ass from start to finish for old school metal lovers.  The band started out under the moniker Warrior in early 1980 with vocalist Dave King, bassist Brian Smith, guitarist Steve Hardy and drummer Ian Thompson and this album sees Mick Percy and Paul Atkinson replacing Hardy and Thompson respectively.  It seems that some things went south and there's some inner turmoil and confusingly two websites for Battleaxe, but the band is soldiering forward having just appeared at Bloodstock Open Air Festival in England with new drummer Ricky Squires.  Here's the official the title track "Heavy Metal Sanctuary" for you to check out.
Battleaxe Website     /     Battleaxe Facebook     /     Buy: Battleaxe - Heavy Metal Sanctuary

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweden's Adrenaline Rush

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The debut release from Adrenaline Rush was recently sent to me for review and upon hearing they hailed from Stockholm, Sweden I instantly cued it up anxious to hear the next revelation from the
Wanning-by Armand Dormmer
Scandinavian country.  The accompanying press release says things like "fronted by one of the most talented and hottest chicks in today’s Hard Rock scene", "promises to fire up the Rock scene with their lethal dose of heavy guitars, infectious hooks and full blown RnR attitude" and "features live oriented tracks with strong melodies, powerful guitars and interesting arrangements".  Well at least I definitely get one out of the three.  Front woman Tave Wanning is certainly hot, albeit perhaps rather young looking.  As for the other two statements, Wanning came from a teen-pop duo called Peaches and I can hear the pop bleed through more than anything throughout this effort.  There are a couple of tracks at the beginning, like "Change", "Black n' Blue" and "Girls Gone Wild", that have the potential to be really good hard rock/glam songs and I imagine would come off well in a live setting with a heavier edge"Generation Left Behind" is the clear standout with it's pulsating riff but the album quickly loses it's hold before too long, much of it being a little on the poppy side for my particular tastes.  Wanning's vocals could do with being a little deeper and
Adrenaline Rush Band Photo
grittier and the guitars need to be more in the forefront and a little beefier.    The band started as a solo project for Wanning but she soon recruited Ludvig Turner (lead guitar, vocals), Alexander Hagman (guitar, vocals), Soufian Ma'Aoui (bass, vocals) and Marcus Johansson (drums) from bands around the Stockholm area.  Erik Martensson (Eclipse, W.E.T) helmed the project in the producers chair, but even he can't bring substance to this album.  While the album is not available in North America until August 25th the lead single, "Change" hit the airwaves in late April and I've included the video below.  Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

(Adrenaline Rush Website) (Adrenaline Rush Facebook)

PHOTOS: Band photo from Official Website / Tave Wanning photo by Armand Dommer

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers Turns 30.

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1984 saw the return of the classic or "Mark II" lineup of one of the most popular bands in the world: Deep Purple. The waters of forgiveness were set to be tested in 1982 with plans for a comeback album and tour to follow but vocalist Ian Gillan was sidelined by his doctors and ordered not to sing for at least six months or risk permanent damage to his vocal chords, thus canceling the remaining dates of touring with his solo band Gillan. The remaining Mark II alumni carried on a while longer with the bands they were in at that point: Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and bassist Roger Glover in Rainbow, keyboardist Jon Lord in Whitesnake, and drummer Ian Paice with Gary Moore. In the spring of 1984 the members got together once again and began planning a triumphant return with a new album and tour. It's rumored that Ritchie Blackmore wanted Whitesnake vocalist and former Mark III member David Coverdale on the mic but apparently that was not to be.

In my opinion, DP returned in fine form with their signature blend of classical and blues influenced yet slightly progressive hard rock solidifying why some have called the band 1/3 of the Unholy Trinity of British Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in the state of Vermont in the summer of 84 and released that fall. It reached #17 on the Billboard Top 200 and went to #5 in the UK. Roger Glover is named 1st in production credit and would explain the bass guitar being in the forefront of the album mix. The album produced three singles. The title track Perfect Strangers reached #12 on Billboards Mainstream Rock Tracks and the opener Knocking at Your Back Door reached #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both of these songs, for me, are very underwhelming. A third single, Nobody's Home, reached #20 on Billboards Mainstream Rock Tracks. It's this track, along with the two other songs sandwiched between the album opener and the title track that is the hot spot for me. Under The Gun is a tight organ/guitar driven rocker with solid bass and drums creating firm foundation. Nobody's Home begins with a bit of tell tale early 80's synthesizer before busting in with a fat guitar lick and great bass groove. Mean Streak is pure vintage Mark II Deep Purple; blues-kissed hard rock.


A massive and quite lucrative world tour would follow the album release and carry over through the following year. This classic yet fragile lineup would go on to release 2 more albums; The House Of Blue Light in '87 and Nobody's Perfect( Live) in '88 before Ian Gillan would be axed due to continuing tension between Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore. But as luck would have it, the vocalist would return again in '92 and the classic Mark II lineup would record their last studio album The Battle Rages On in '93. Ritchie Blackmore would exit Deep Purple for good in the Fall of that year. Who knew how prophetic Perfect Strangers would become? To this day, Deep Purple have continued to tour and record music.  Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse has since taken over on guitar. Keyboardist Don Airey joined in 2002 when Jon Lord retired from the band. Lord passed away in 2012. Throughout the bands 38 years of combined formation, drummer Ian Paice has remained the only member who has not left and returned to Deep Purple while they were active. For me, DP are truly one of the few true pioneers of hard rock and Heavy Metal. They have influenced countless American and European bands, as well as The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Personally, I prefer the material from the Mark II and Mark III lineups, but their catalog as a whole is brilliant. 100 million albums sold worldwide can't be wrong. 
Happy 30th Perfect Strangers!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fresh Blood volume 2 - Ep150

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It's been entirely too long since Aaron and Chris unveiled the Fresh Blood format for Decibel Geek. The first volume received lots of praise and we're happy to now add the second volume to the collection.

This week the guys are spinning tracks by up and coming bands that have the talent, chops, and spirit that all Decibel Geek listeners can appreciate. Tracks from artists such as Gang Forward, We Are Harlot, Diamond Lane, Thundermother, Hardone, Red Wine Hangover and much, much more. It's all new and all for you with Fresh Blood volume 2

More Info!
(click artist name for more information)

Massive
Preachers Son
Thundermother
Gang Forward
King of the North
The Black Moods
Red Wine Hangover
Diamond Lane
Hardbone
We Are Harlot

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

THE "DO NOT MISS" TOUR OF THE SUMMER! KISS/Def Leppard

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All Photos by Wally Norton

KISS and Def Leppard, two bands that occupy a sizeable portion of my record collection just rolled through Toronto last night on what is far and away "THE TOUR TO SEE" this summer.


Honestly, if you had told the 16 year old me that I would get to witness these two bands on the same stage and on the same night, I probably would have peed myself. That said, the 44 year old me was a tad skeptical when the tour was announced months ago. In fact I had actually considered skipping the show altogether. Thankfully the crazy, rock n roll addicted adolescent part of brain kicked my ass into gear and my buddy Rich (The Meister) Dillon and I hightailed it down to the Molson Canadian Amphitheater for the second time this week. Motley Crue and Alice Cooper had just assaulted our ear drums in the same building a mere 48 hours before.


Dark, ominous clouds blew in from the lake and a less than hospitable weather forecast threatened to make this a soggy affair, especially annoying as we looked at our general admission lawn tickets. In a desperate attempt to make the most of our evening and to possibly escape some torrential rain, we saddled up to the box office window to inquire if a seat upgrade was even possible. Within moments our wallets were lighter but instead of lawns we now found ourselves clutching 200 level seats. It was time to ROCK!


Getting under way at exactly 6:55pm, Kobra and the Lotus ripped through a lean 30 minute metal feast that elicited a positive response from the arena rock crowd. Possibly a little too heavy for some, they played a very tight set and lead vocalist Kobra Paige engaged the audience very well. Closing out their set with a metal version of Heart's "Barracuda" followed by a killer anthem "I Am I Am", Kobra and the Lotus impressed and I will be sure to add their new album "High Priestess" to my music collection.



I had not seen Def Leppard live since 1988 when they were kings of the world riding the "Hysteria" world tour so I was very excited to once again see the band that introduced me to ROCK music. Although, KISS was part of my world since 1976, it was actually Def Leppard and Pyromania in 1983 that transformed this writer into a drooling stark raving, obsessed heavy metal geek.


As the PA system played the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", Leppard's intro song, I knew we were about to get rocked. True to form, Def Leppard jumped right in and took over the Who's classic. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!" screamed Joe Elliot and it was on like donkey kong! Now Def Leppard has a catalogue of hits that defined 80's hard rock and we were about to get a pile of them so opening the set with High and Dry's "Let it Go", my absolute favorite Leppard tune was a great surprise that could not have been scripted any better. I was riffing my air guitar, and rocking like a teenager with a smile so wide it actually hurt.

The hits came one after the other like a barrage. "Hysteria", "Rocket", "Bringin on the Heartache", "Armageddon It", "Two Steps Behind" and "Love Bites". It was a giant beer drinking, sing-along with 15 000 plus dancing in the aisles and partying like it was once again 1988. The band sounded incredible, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell play the solo's note for note, crystal clear just like the recordings and Joe Elliot was totally on top of his game this evening. Arena rock doesn't get any better than "Pour Some Sugar On Me" and in the blink of an eye the set was over but not before a double song encore of "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" from the aforementioned Pyromania album. There was absolutely no filler, no fluff, no solos, not even time for a pee break anywhere. This was hit after hit after hit of high energy power rock and it was glorious! Def Leppard asked "Do You Wanna Get Rocked?", I say mission accomplished in spades.


Not many bands could follow what Def Leppard just unleashed, but then again KISS is not just any band. With military precision the set change was underway as the giant KISS curtain covered the stage. We were only halfway through the night, bring on KISS!

The houselights went out, the crowd jumped into action as the all too familiar intro rang out. "TORONTO, You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best, This Hottest Band In The World.....KISS!!!" With a blast of pyro, the curtain fell to reveal Paul, Gene and Tommy high atop the Spider rig being lowered to the smoke filled stage below. "Psycho Circus" is a great intro song, hell it's a great song period but it really captures what KISS is all about. These guys created the "ROCK SHOW SPECTACLE" and 15 seconds in, everyone was at the circus going crazy.



"Deuce", "Shout It Out Loud", "War Machine" and "Hotter Than Hell" got the party rolling. Still on a high from Def Leppard's set the crowd was going nuts, they were warmed up and ready to rock. Paul mentioned that "you turn on the TV and see bad news, open the paper and read bad news, but tonight let's forget about all that and just have a great time". He nailed it, as I scanned the crowd it was all smiles, high 5's and fists in the air. Rock n Roll is supposed to feel good and KISS delivered us from all of our troubles for the better part of an hour and a half.

Gene blew fire!, spit blood and flew up into the lights. Tommy shot flames from his guitar, Tommy and Paul rode the spider during "Lick It Up" and also paid homage to the Who as they played a little of "Won't Get Fooled Again" from atop the raised platform. "Hide Your Heart" from the Hot In The Shade album was a fresh addition to the set and sounded great. It was everything you expect at a Kiss concert. Much like the annual Thanksgiving dinner, you know there will be turkey, you know there will be the gravy and potatoes and all the fixings, and you would look forward to it all the same. This concert was an absolute feast.

Paul mentioned all of the kids in the audience and the cameras caught many of them on the big screen. Kiss truly is a multi-generational experience with sometimes three generations now sharing the shows together. Paul commented to the kids "We were there for your parents! and we will be there for you too!" hinting that maybe KISS 2.0 could really be a distinct possibility and to be honest, that's not such a bad thing. To be 7 years old and discovering KISS now, why shouldn't they get a chance to enjoy the spectacle that we hold so dear to our hearts. Haters keep hating, I think it's great and would love to one day take my grandchildren to witness a show like this.


"Calling Dr. Love" sounded killer and then it was time for Paul to fly out and join the crowd. This was especially awesome tonight as we were only 15 feet or so from the satellite stage that Paul was headed to. Mr. Stanley's favorite song "Love Gun", led into the show's closer "Black Diamond" as drummer Eric Singer got to stretch his vocal chords on the KISS classic.


Foregoing the usual leaving the stage waiting for the encore antics, Paul just asked the audience if we minded them playing a couple more songs and the crowd went nuts again. "Detroit Rock City" followed by the KISS national anthem "Rock n Roll All Nite" cue the confetti machines, cue the drum riser, it was time to sing and dance one more time. Sometimes I think I am getting tired of that song but when it's played live and the confetti is falling on you, your Kiss Army brothers and sisters around you, it truly becomes a magical experience guaranteed to lift your spirits. Ending the song with more pyro firepower than most bands use on a whole tour, it truly is a site to behold.

With our ear drums ringing and the pyro burned into our eyelids we headed out to the subway totally, perfectly and pleasantly exhausted from two classic bands delivering the goods in 2014.


If you had told me when I was 16 that Kiss would still be burning up the tour trail in 2014? C'mon how lucky are we to still have the chance to see a show like this today? For those holding into the original lineup delusions, you really are missing out on a great lineup, a great show and the best party package of the summer. Thanks to Paul, Gene, Eric and Tommy!

And the rain? Never happened, it seems the heavens above Toronto wanted to Rock n Roll all Nite as well.










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