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Watch Kiss at their explosive, raucous best in this clip from a 1975 Alive! show

Kiss’ Dressed To Kill tour is the stuff of legend. In 1975, the band were struggling commercially but had a fearsome live reputation, so decided to go all out on recording a short run of shows.

Their label, Casablanca, was struggling to stay afloat so Kiss’ manager Bill Aucoin funded the tour out of his own pocket. The recordings – committed to tape amongst a live show of flame throwers, mechanical drum risers and endless blasts of dry ice – captured a band nearing the height of the powers, even if they didn’t know it yet. Indeed, the resulting album, Alive!, became Kiss’ breakthrough and a high watermark for the live album concept.

Now fans are sharing newly surfaced footage of Kiss’ performance at Detroit’s Cobo Hall on May 16, 1975. The first of four nights from the tour that were recorded for Alive!

The footage is fairly light on the pyrotechnics but captures a band finding their footing with one of their most receptive audiences to date, and responding with a vicious performance that is both theatrical and raw. 

The 33-minute footage includes renditions of Let Me Go, Rock & Roll, C’Mon & Love Me, Firehouse, Deuce, Rock & Roll All Nite and Black Diamond. The Cobo Hall show was also significant for being the date in which the Kiss banner that featured on the back cover of Alive! was photographed.

Kiss Alive! back cover

The back cover of Alive! (Image credit: Kiss)

The clip also features some of the band’s most important guitars of the era, among them Paul Stanley’s Firebird I and Gene Simmons’ LoBue custom bass guitar. Ace Frehley can be seen playing his long-favored 1973 Tobacco Burst Les Paul Deluxe. 

Fan authority AceFrehleyLesPaul.com (opens in new tab), reports this was modded to swap out the mini-humbuckers for a full-size pair before coming to Frehley, the guitarist then swapping those out for DiMarzio humbuckers in 1974. Later, Frehley would mod it further by turning it into a double-cut and refinishing it in black. Last year the Les Paul Deluxe went up for auction. 

Guitar geekery aside, the above is a great (and, importantly, undubbed) clip – and a killer insight into a band that were just months away from hitting the peak of their fame and notoriety.

Meanwhile, Kiss continue to tour in their current incarnation (with Tommy Thayer on guitar, Eric Singer on drums) and Gene Simmons recently ruled-out a full return to the band for Ace Frehley, saying he lacks the “physical stamina” to take the job from Thayer. The invitation to Frehley and former drummer Peter Criss to join them for the encores remains open.

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Matt Parker
Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.