KISS with opener The Dead Daisies live in Richmond, Virginia, USA Concert Review

A KID MAKES A SEASONED PHOTOGRAPHER’S NIGHT!

Date: September 9, 2016
Venue: RVA Coliseum
Location: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Reviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll Rock Photography

It ALL started in around 1978 or 1979. I was a fifth grade kid with a record player and just three albums: KISSDestroyer, KISSLove Gun and KISSAlive II. I played them repeatedly and never bothered to ask for any other albums because really, how much better could you get than that? Fast forward to yesterday. A couple of tickets fell into my possession but the show was an hour and a half away (add another hour of traffic) and I’ve seen KISS more times than I can count. Was it really worth the trouble? The Dead Daisies were opening and that appealed to me. Then again, I’m going on the Monsters of Rock Cruise West Coast in just three weeks. I’ll see John Corabi on that. I was torn. When The Dead Daisies‘ representatives graced me with a photo pass, there was no question. I was going!

I love John Corabi, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy and I was a little familiar with Marco Mendoza from when I saw him play with John Sykes (Whitesnake) on the Thin Lizzy tour after Phil Lynott died and they were great! I hadn’t heard David Lowy before but hey, he keeps pretty good company so he must be good! Keep in mind, my pass was to shoot The Dead Daisies and this did NOT include KISS. Large venues like that are pretty strict but it didn’t bother me. I really was there for The Dead Daisies.

the-dead-daisies-photo-3I arrived about 30 minutes early to an extremely long line outside. I finally got in to find that The Dead Daisies started 15 minutes early! The general rule is you are only allowed to shoot the first three songs so I rushed to find someone who could get me where I needed to be ASAP! I was not even close to happy. After 15 more minutes of security trying to figure out how to get a photographer into the photo pit, I was escorted to the admin office where there stood a circle of photographers and some young kid with a company polo on. He looked at me and asked, “What is your name?” I told him (he already knew from the call security made to him). He then said, “WELL…. I don’t have you on the list… but you DO have my credentials on (as he pointed to my photo pass). Who gave you that?” I replied, “The Dead Daisies.” He said, “Well then, let’s go!” After all this time, I thought I’d missed it, that he’d already brought the photographers BACK but they hadn’t even gone down there yet. This is the only time I’ve ever known this to happen.

the-dead-daisies-photo-1We went down and I was very excited to be iooking up at these guys while they played songs off their most recent album and the one before that (and some cover songs). Brian Tichy is an impressive drummer. Last time I saw him was in January when he played the Randy Rhoads Remembered show in LA and he killed it! Not only did he organize it and play drums through most of it (Ray Luzier of Korn sat in for a couple of songs), he even came out and played a black polka dotted Flying V. He not only played the song, he played Randy’s solo! He’s a huge Randy Rhoads fan. Doug Aldrich walks around on stage with incredible confidence — I guess if I had that six pack I wouldn’t button my shirt either — and plays so well that it’s interesting to watch him strike pose after pose playing all the while! He’s a great addition to the band.

the-dead-daisies-photo-2Corabi sounded amazing as always. This man just has a charm in his vocals that makes you want to hang out and listen to him all night. Speaking of that, I have been fortunate enough to run in to him several times and this may possibly be the most fun man in the world! I’ve talked music with him, watched as he cracked us up with his good hearted humor and I’ve even done shots of tequila with him — AFTER the show, he declined any drinking before his show but was ready for some chilled Patron immediately after it! The guy is a riot and if you ever get the chance to be around him, please do. Marco held it down well. He’s a seasoned vet and it shows. David sounded great as well and even struck a few poses himself! They have some really good songs. Personally, I have a hard time finding new music but the-dead-daisies-photo-5purchasing their last two albums made me happy.

Between opening for KISS on this tour, The Dead Daisies have been doing club dates on their own. Tonight, in the supporting slot, their set list was:

The Dead Daisies’ setlist:
01. Midnight Moses (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band cover)
02. Mexico
03. Make Some Noise
04. Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
05. Lock ‘N’ Load
06. Long Way to Go
07. Join Together (The Who cover)
08. The Last Time I Saw the Sun
09. Devil Out of Time
10. Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover)

What a GREAT night! Not only was the music terrific, the band was extremely entertaining. I only got to shoot two songs but, that’s fine. I snuck a few from the front row after I left the photo pit. After being led back to the admin office, the kid mentioned to me — by the way, this kid turned out to be pretty cool! — that we were meeting back here 30 minutes after The Dead Daisies‘ last song is over (as I was going to rush down to watch the rest of the show) to be escorted down to shoot KISS. I said, “I’m not dsc_6736smshooting KISS.” He replied, “Are you SURE?” I said as I was smiling inside, “Ummmmmmm… OK, I’ll go ahead and shoot them.” As a photographer, shooting KISS is the pinnacle. You aren’t getting a better show to shoot than KISS so when this fell right into my lap, I was excited!

Remember my 1979 story? And the fact that I’ve seen KISS many times. Well, being practically face to face with them is an entirely different experience! This brought seeing them to a new level for me. I stood down in the pit and chatted with the kid. By the way, he really was a kid. He only looked about 18. He said, “If anyone down here gives you trouble, just let me know.” Lol. The stage was now behind a huge KISS curtain. No one could see the show before the show started. When that curtain comes down, the crew pulls it off the front of the stage FAST, then they move off and the photographers run in as the time on our two songs is counting down. The curtain dropped and there was Gene Simmons standing right in front of me! Well… seven feet higher than me but still….

dsc_6662smGene knows the rock star game. He and Paul know cameras are on them and they put on a show. They stop to pose, they play and pose, they sing and pose and between their poses, they pose. These guys are there for us. They really do a lot to put on a great show for their fans. Paul made an announcement between songs, that “There are no people under the stage playing instruments at THEIR concert. There is nobody standing off the side of the stage singing, there are absolutely no recorded tracks and there is no lip synching!” Gene sounded great. Paul got a little raspy a couple of times but this man sings across a pretty wide vocal range and he’s still singing the songs that were written for his voice over 40 years ago! It irritates me to hear people whine and say, “Listen closely, Paul can’t sing exactly like he used to 30 years ago.” The man is 64 years old! I’m surprised he can sing at all much less do it while dancing around in platform heels and with abs! Can you picture your grandfather getting up onstage and doing the job that well? That aside, Paul sounds great. As men get older, their voices deepen so they do lose a few notes off the top which makes singing the same songs a struggle. KISS have some high vocals and I’m shocked Paul can still pull them off. I find him impressive. And he certainly doesn’t take the easy route. They played 19 songs!

One other thing I loved about the show tonight was that they pulled out some songs they rarely or never play. With a catalogue like theirs, they do have a lot to choose from and they always want to crank out the hits because that’s what most people want to hear but they threw a few songs in the setlist that were a very pleasant surprise!

dsc_6700smKISS’ setlist:
01. Detroit Rock City
02. Deuce
03. Shout It Out Loud
04. Do You Love Me
05. I Love It Loud
06. Flaming Youth
07. Bass Solo (Gene Simmons spits blood)
08. God Of Thunder
09. Psycho Circus
10. Shock Me / Guitar Solo (Tommy Thayer)
11. Cold Gin
12. Lick It Up
13. War Machine (Gene Simmons breathes fire)
14. Love Gun
15. Black Diamond
Encores:
16. Beth
17. The Star-Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith cover)
18. Rock And Roll All Nite

I mentioned that I’ve seen KISS many times. I didn’t mention that in all of those shows, this one included, this is a band that delivers! NO one was leaving early. Everyone was out of their seat and involved. This is the way a rock show should be. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.