Kiss – ‘Kiss Symphony: Alive IV’ (2003) – Album / DVD Review (The Kiss Review Series)

To celebrate the band’s 30th Anniversary, it was decided that another live album was needed. However, not just any live album. Kiss was going to perform a show with a full 60-piece orchestra. Now this was the early 2000’s and apparently playing with an orchestra was the new trending thing to do especially due to the success of Metallica’s own orchestra performance on S&M in 1999. So Kiss followed trends yet again with their own version. Now they could’ve phoned it in and just put the songs together and then tack on the orchestra in the studio like I have seen some bands do (hello Jorn), but they didn’t do that. Instead, they actually performed a full live show in front of an audience with an orchestra. Good on them for not doing it half-ass.

The band at the time really was just going to be Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. They really didn’t have a need for Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Instead they were going to use Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, but there was a problem. The contract with the promoter stated they had to have 3 “Original” members. Well, that changed things. Ace was definitely out, he was done. The band had to bring in Peter back to the fold so Eric was out and now Kiss was Gene, Paul, Peter and Tommy. Peter wouldn’t last much longer though.

The show was performed in Melbourne, Australia at Telstra Dome on February 28, 2003. The conductor was named David Campbell and the orchestra was the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The band flew down the week of the show and they only had around 3-4 days to practice with the orchestra and getting everything right. It was a very daunting task, but somehow, they pulled it off.

Before we jump in to it, I want to give a little background on the “Alive” part of this release. This show was released as “Alive IV”, but it wasn’t supposed to be. In 2000, the band had a live album ready to go, but do to contractual issues with the label and office politics the project was shelved. It has since been released in the Alive Box Set and separately as the Kiss – Alive! The Millennium Concert. We will get to that review down the road.

The album was released on July 22, 2003 and the DVD was released on September 10, 2003. And of course, like any nut job Kiss fan, I have them both. I must not be a massive fan, because there was a single disc version released on October 7, 2003, but I don’t have that one as I had the full show. The only thing extra the single disc version has is the Ramones song “Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?” with both Simmons and Stanley on vocals. I do need to get that one and I will one day.

We will start with the CD despite the picture above and track listings below being the DVD. The show is broken up in to three separate Acts. Act One is straight-up Kiss in concert. It is only the band and they put on a quick set with nothing but a solid 6 rock & roll tracks including 4 from the 70’s, one from the 80’s and one from the 90’s. They are typical songs, but the band sounds really great, including Paul and it is a fantastic and bombastic set. Act Two sees the band go all acoustic and they play with a smaller orchestra group that is called The Melbourne Symphony Ensemble. This is a five song set where they pull out the ballads including the classic “Beth” along with “Forever”, but being they are in Australia they pull out “Shandi” which has always been a favorite of the fans from Down Under.

The final act is the biggest setlist with 10 tracks and the full on 60-piece orchestra led by David Campbell. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra weren’t idly there in the background to make it appear Kiss was playing with an orchestra, but they were in to it and brought an extra punch to the already great songs. Kiss songs are already over-the top, but the Orchestra really added an extra texture that took the songs to a little different place that made them even more interesting. The standout tracks on here for me were “God of Thunder” because the orchestra helped make it even darker and more ominous which made Gene’s blood spitting and Demon routine even that much more frightening. Another highlight is Kiss pulled out a song that I couldn’t tell you the last time they played it. They did “Great Expectations” from ‘Destroyer and even brought out the Australian Children’s Choir to help sing along which made the song extra special.

Now let’s walk through the DVD release. The first disc is broken out in to two parts. The first is the all the behind the scenes work that went in to putting the show. You get to see the band interact with the composer/conductor on what is need to pull this off. You get to see the band interact with the orchestra in rehearsals and you find out the sessions started off rough as the band and orchestra weren’t playing at the same tempo (and they blame Peter or at least Gene does). You get to see the stage being built, the fans coming to the show in make-up, a TV interview and the full on rehearsals on the stage.

And the neatest thing you get to see is all the members of the Orchestra getting their Kiss make-up applied. That is 60 people that needed to be in make-up with only 2 hours to get it done. This added so much to the show and was really worth the effort. The orchestra felt like they were rock stars as I am sure they hadn’t played a show like this before and in front of so many people. They looked like kids in the candy store. They even had the Australian Children’s Choir in full make-up as well.

The weird thing is that on Disc One you get Act Three in all its glory and I guess that is because that disc was really about the “Orchestra” part of the show. Disc Two is the full on Three Act concert…beginning to end. It is massive spectacle and as great as the CD is to listen, the DVD takes it to another level as Kiss is a very visual band. You get all the explosions, all the crowd shots of people in make-up and pretty girls, but I don’t think they showed any girls flashing their boobs this time like usual (a little disappointing, but this is an orchestra and should be more sophisticated).

Since this is a one time only deal, Kiss gives it their all and seems to be having a whole lot of fun which adds to the enjoyment factor. Paul actually still sounds really good at this point, Peter sounds great, Tommy’s playing is spectacular and he keeps the Ace sound throughout, but adds his flair and then you have Gene who always sounds wonderful and his blood spitting scene is always the best and then he flies up to the rafters which you don’t get to see on the CD. You also get to see Paul fly out to the stage in the center of the stadium to perform Love Gun. All these things make the visual part of the show superior…at least to me.

I don’t know what else there is to add. I really love this show and I think they pulled off a great one that gives you every aspect of Kiss. The orchestra is definitely an enhancement and adds so much more to the power that is Kiss. The two together are like the marrying of chocolate and peanut butter as they are perfect together. I will give this release a solid 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it doesn’t get much better than this. If you want loud and bombastic and to be entertained from start to finish then look no further than this release since you want the best, with this, you get it!

Next Up: Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004)

Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  12. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  13. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  14. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  15. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  16. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  17. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
  18. Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
  19. Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
  20. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
  21. Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
  22. Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
  23. Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
  24. Kiss – Killers (1982)
  25. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
  26. Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
  27. Kiss – Animalize (1984)
  28. Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
  29. Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
  30. Kiss – Asylum (1985)
  31. Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
  32. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
  33. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
  34. Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
  35. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
  36. Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
  37. Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
  38. Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  39. Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
  40. Kiss – Chikara (1988)
  41. Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
  42. Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
  43. Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
  44. Kiss – Revenge (1992)
  45. Kiss – Alive III (1993)
  46. Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
  47. Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
  48. Kiss – MTV Unplugged (1996)
  49. Kiss – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996)
  50. Kiss – Greatest Kiss (1997)
  51. Kiss – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)
  52. Kiss – Psycho Circus (1998)
  53. Kiss – The Second Coming Documentary (1998)
  54. Eric Carr – Rockology (1999)
  55. Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project (1999)
  56. Eric Singer Project – ESP (1999)
  57. Bruce Kulick – Audiodog (2001)
  58. Kiss – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (2003)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

  1. The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
  2. The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
  3. The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
  4. The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
  5. The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
  6. The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

  1. Part 1 – The Grand Opening
  2. Part 2 – Disk 1
  3. Part 3 – Disk 2
  4. Part 4 – Disk 3
  5. Part 5 – Disk 4
  6. Part 6 – Disk 5
  7. Part 7 – Disk 6
  8. Part 8 – Disk 7
  9. Part 9 – Disk 8
  10. Part 10 – Disk 9
  11. Part 11 – Disk 10
  12. Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
  13. Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
  14. Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
  15. Part 15 – The Final Verdict

69 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Kiss Symphony: Alive IV’ (2003) – Album / DVD Review (The Kiss Review Series)

      1. I’m sensing that previous opinion wasn’t well received. 🙂

        I dunno, the song sounds empty without the symphony. It feels like it was built for it and needs it.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t really care too much about original members and all that. Good music is good music regardless of who wrote it and who’s playing on it

            Liked by 1 person

                1. I’m more of a fan of the book myself. I think the theatrical cut leaves out too much, and the extended cut replaces the great orchestral score with goofy surf rock songs. I still like the film, but feel like Francis could have done it better if he’d left it longer, but with the original score.

                  If you haven’t seen Rumble Fish I recommend it. It’s by the same author, and the movie was made by a lot of the same people, same director, several of the same actors, and it was even shot right after Outsiders finished. I think it’s the stronger film, though it is more abstract. It just seemed like Francis’ heart was in Rumble Fish more.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. I haven’t read the book yet. I liked that the movie showed the brotherhood of these guys and not to judge a book by its cover. But again, it also helped that the boys were good looking, in my eyes. I agree with you about the soundtrack though. The goofy music did not help much, especially when Sodapop ran away from home.

                    I’ve been wanting to check out Rumble Fish for a while, but haven’t done so yet.

                    Liked by 2 people

  1. I have not heard this one in years. I bought it on CD upon it’s release but I may to dig it out or cue it up on Apple to be honest with you. Great stuff and for you to toss down a 5/5 that’s saying something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good on ’em for doing this, sounds cool! And when you’re listening to KISS, I figure you always want “loud and bombastic and to be entertained from start to finish.” Looks like they nailed it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David Campbell was a Canadian boy from Toronto! And you may have heard of his son, “Beck”.

    Regarding “Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?” — may I recommend getting the Ramones tribute album to get that song? You will also get some Metallica and U2 that way. Stephen King wrote the liner notes and Rob Zombie produced. It’s worth getting a hold of. They performed that song as a trio — Singer, Stanley, Simmons — with a horn section.

    Great review as always buddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Who knew that Kiss would do an orchestra show! I searched up “Love Gun” and it was pretty cool when Paul flew across the audience. I’ll give them props for having a bigger stage and the orchestra people wear Kiss makeup!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Their shows are still good, yes. It is one big pyro, bombastic party. The End of the Road show was one of the better ones only because everyone, including the fans, were on one big ride and what could be the final time we saw them. It was a fun time had by all. Even my daughter enjoyed despite only knowing a handful of songs. Setlist is still boring, but again, it didn’t matter.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I mean I only know the hits, so I don’t know much else. So maybe I won’t know half the songs on the setlist (as long as they don’t play “I Was Made For Loving You,” but they probably still play that). I do think it’ll be cool to see Gene spit out blood though.

            Liked by 1 person

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