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Mini-Kiss @ The Avalon in Hollywood (7.30.04)

"Honey, I Shrunk the Kiss"

Let me start my review of Mini-Kiss by telling the world that the only difference between Mini-Kiss and the real Kiss is that these vertically challenged performers understand that it is all a "big" joke. When the real Gene and Paul perform they believe they are the biggest rockstars to ever grace the stage when in reality they are just as small as Mini-Kiss. Neither band really plays their instruments or cares about the audience just as long as those paychecks keep coming in. You will see or hear nothing new in either of their sets and it is a sad state of affairs that keep these guys going, but at least when the thigh-high thunder hit the stage you knew they needed to be there. And as they told the audience how great we were and they loved us we believed them.

Honestly, I felt the tension as these tiny dancers took the stage knowing that it was either this or the psycho circus. Unfortunately, these giants among insects are exploited everyday in their lives and have very few career choices. And thankfully the real Gene Simmons has attempted to legitimize these bastard children of rock and roll. Thanks Gene.

The set was short and consisted of everything Kiss klassic you would expect like Love Gun, Strutter, Shout it out Loud, Beth, Dr. Love and Rock and Roll All Nite. The vocals were the only live sound from the P.A. and the band came on late due to "soundcheck problems"?! Small Paul was wobbly and appeared drunk from the half-pint he guzzled a half hour prior in their mini-van. The Kisseoke tracks embarrassingly faded out as each song ended reminding the audience that an $8 drink at the bar wasnt that bad.

The "highlight" of the night was when Teeny Gene began to spit blood from his mouth and shake his head violently to spread his germs and his wig flew right off the back of his precious little head. Frantically looking for it, while missing his fake bass parts, he continued with a smile only to realize it was somehow stuck to the back of his neck hanging down behind him sucessfully evading his every effort to locate it. After the Konfusion ended so did the spirit of the overly tolerant crowd.

Belive me, we wanted to party, we wanted to laugh and rock and roll all nite but we couldn't help but to feel short changed. The crowd was a small draw indeed so the tix should have been half price and they might as well have had Chucky and the Leprechaun warm up the audience with their killer brand of humor.

Here is an idea for the real Gene Simmons: why dont you shell out the cabbage for Runaway 2 or Wanted Dead or Alive 2 and give Tom Selleck and Rutger Hauer long overdue paydays? Or, go out and "discover" another Van Halen or House of Lords or Motley Crue like you claim you did back in the day? Please, please, please stop the madness.

Instead, however, I know of plans for a broadway show, a reality series, more cartoons, clothing, lunchboxes, condoms, coffins and anything else Gene's mother can think of to make their lives infinitely better than ours.

To summarize, as much as the whole think is a joke these days, still Gene and Paul laugh their way to the bank every day. --by Jonah Haze

Queensryche @ The Beacon Theatre NYC (4.25.04)

The Godfathers of progressive rock returned to New York City for an evening of classic performances recently and I must admit they sounded better than ever. Queensryche had started on this small tour which essentially was supporting their newest DVD & CD Release entitled "The Art Of Live" and the semi-recent CD "Tribe". This will be the second time I have seen them at The Beacon Theatre and this is a great venue to see such a band. My seats were on the Orchestra level, far in the back yet without much difficulty I could see everything that was going on.

Starting off the evening was Symphony X, who played several numbers from their recent release. I felt that the sound they had was a little on the muddy side. Still I enjoyed them and was glad to see people getting into their music as well. One who is unaware of Symphony X can think of them as a little bit Fates Warning and a little bit Dream Theater. I found it interesting beforehand to be sipping a beer in the local bar just around the time that X was to begin their set. As I finished my drink I told surrounding folks it was just about show time. The reply I got was, "oh we never heard of them so we are going to pass". I quickly described what it was they were in store for and they decided to go in. Honestly if you ask me, with ticket prices being as high as they are, I make sure to see all the bands who play to get my money’s worth.

For Queensryche, the stage setting was on the minimalist side. This is fine actually because one does not expect to see lavish stage setups for a Queensryche gig. You are there to hear the music performed to perfection and to just get in the moment of this classic band. Not all bands offer the skills that QR does, so it is nice to be able to absorb every sound you hear more so than sensory overloading effects. They are just not that visual type of band. Two giant overhead screens that projected images periodically through the course of the show were about all that adorned the stage combined with some great lighting work. Some of the images were of a political nature and while the views were not exactly what I agree with, I will not use this as a forum to argue with the band, the fans or stand on a soapbox. Queensryche has always been politically cognizant in their music so some of this worked well with the songs they were playing.

The band began their set with "Tribe"--its solid drumming setting the tone for the show. When Geoff Tate appeared and began to sing, the response was thunderous. He has one of the purest and most powerful voices in rock music, and he still packs a punch in a live setting to this day some 20 years after the band first started. Michael Wilton and Eddie Jackson still fresh in the guitar and bass playing. Rockenfield has opted once again for the use of a smaller drum kit than in previous years. Mike Stone was once again filling in the space left behind by Chris DeGarmo. He is a good player, but to me Queensryche is incomplete without him.

I found it interesting to not hear much commentary from Geoff, as I discussed some political images were shown. He did however make sure to mention that we are wishing our troops over in Iraq the best, because without them there we would not be here. I felt that had a touch of class, to be thinking of our troops. This time around the set was a lot more “Operation: Mindcrime” material. It was clearly one of the highlights when singer Pamela Moore from the "O: M" CD and Video joined the band onstage. Her voice sounds just like the recordings and it made for the songs keeping their original feel. Fans might find it interesting to know that Geoff played a little keyboard during some of the numbers. This will be the most “Mindcrime” numbers I have ever seen in one sitting, and I was very happy for it. The core of the show was from this stellar album and a fair amount from “Empire”.

The set was great and I clocked it at just over two hours. The encores as you can see from the list below were purely from the "Empire" CD. Queensryche purists might argue with the fact that older, more seminal numbers such as "Take Hold Of The Flame", “Lady Wore Black” & "Queen Of The Reich" were overlooked this time around. However, if you saw them on the previous tour and purchased the live DVDs that came out from these performances you will see they had given us these tunes last time. It is hard for a group that has several albums (with a couple of those being extra good) to find tunes to leave off the set. --Ken Pierce

Set For The Evening:
1. Tribe
2. Sign of the Times
3. Hit the Black
4. NM156
5. Screaming in Digital
6. Open
7. I am I
8. Damaged
9. Losing Myself
10. Desert Dance
11. Rhythm of Hope (acoustic)
12. Roads to madness (acoustic)
13. Silent Lucidity (acoustic)
14. I remember now (operation mindcrime intro)
15. Operation: Mindcrime
16. Spreading the disease
17. The Mission
18. Suite Sister Mary
19. Breaking the Silence
20. I don't believe in love
21. Eyes of a stranger
22. Jet city woman (encore)
23. Empire (encore)
24. Best I can (encore)

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