| Sunday October 22, 2006
I'm exhausted. I guess I've earned it.
I spent my morning editing and uploading the pictures from last night.
These aren't all of the shots. I held back about 35 of 'em just in case the KISS Magazine needs any. Since their publisher didn't get his photo pass, I figured I'd be there for 'em in addition to Sgt. Al.
Despite being so very, very tired, I got together with Frank and Joe. We ran through some acoustic stuff. We even brought "I'll Be Fine" back. I forgot just how much I love that song. Frank watched the leaves blow around outside the window while I sang it. I was surprised that we were able to get through it. I then came up with a part for Joe that should be a nice addition. I think I want to record an acoustic set with just the 3 of us to post here. In addition to the flood of demos I'm about to unleash, that'll be nice to have new versions of some of the older songs.
In the evening, Amanda and I finally watched Walk The Line. Eh, it didn't really do anything for me one way or the other but it was a pleasant enough distraction for an evening.
| Saturday October 21, 2006
Paul Stanley opens his first solo tour in 17 years at Atlanta's Tabernacle.
Today we cap off KISS Week 2006.
Paul Stanley's solo tour opened tonight in Atlanta. I spent a leisurely Saturday morning before taking off to get there relatively early. When I got there, I could hear the band soundchecking. I heard them going through "Got To Choose" and as I was walking away, something sounded like "I Was Made For Lovin' You" but I can't be sure. When we got around to the front, I wound up hanging out with Warren Lapine from the Official KISS Magazine (just like at the Coffeehouse). Apparently, Paul's management didn't leave his passes for him. Warren then let me know that he always had trouble at these things. We chatted for a good while about working in the KISS environment, Paul's new album, the magazine and whatever else came up. Before it was over, I gave him a Critical Darlings CD, he gave me the latest issue of the mag (and offered me a comp subscription that I'm happy to take) and we traded contact info. He never did get his photo pass but at least he got tickets. How stupid is it for an artist and management to ignore a guy who's darn near devoted his life to making that artist look good. That's just crazy!
When we got inside, Amanda snagged up a prime seat in the top balcony (great view) and I wandered on down. I photo'd the opener, Rockets To Ruin, and just hung out. I ran into Fran Strine (who hired me to do the Edwin McCain and Sevendust DVD shoots), Warren the security guy (who complained about the lack of updates at Concert Shots) and Alice from Playgrounds Magazine in Columbus. Before Paul started, Sgt. Al finally made an appearance. Al's the guy that does most of the pics for KISS Online. He's more or less their "official guy" even though, from what he told me at the Coffeehouse, he pays his own expenses.
He also wanted to know how I got my photo pass. He said he was in a meeting with Paul and Doc McGhee and Paul wanted to know how I got cleared. Al said when he heard my name come up, he took notice. Apparently, Paul wanted NO ONE cleared to photo tonight. Doc's office apparently didn't know that because they were great to me! After that, I was scared they'd tell me I couldn't shoot but everything went fine. Al also told me that Gene Simmons was in attendance and that they gave him one of the smaller dressing rooms.
In the last few minutes before the show, I spoke more to Al and to Ivonne from New Orleans. It was a nice conversation and I was glad to meet her and catch up with Al. Everyone kept speculating on whether Gene would come out. I knew that there was NO WAY Paul Stanley was going to let Gene Simmons upstage him on his night. I was right.
Then the lights went down.
There was no pyro, no "Awwwwwlllllrrrrriiiiight Atlantas", no nothing. Paul just walked out with a smile on his face. His hands looked to be slightly shaking. He was definitely nervous. He then launched into "Live To Win" for the first time in concert. It was tight but not air tight. He seemed to be concentrating but when the whole audience started singing along at the first chorus, you could see him visibly relax as a smile come back.
"Hide Your Heart" followed and it was then that I realized that the song choices could suck. I mean, "Hide Your Heart" is debatable at best. Still, the crowd sang along loudly. During the instrumental parts of the song, it was clear that Paul wasn't quite clear how to act. He almost started going crazy a couple of times, then he'd reign himself back in. As a photographer, I wanted him to cut loose, but as a musician, I knew he first needed to find out who this non-makeuped character is (not to mention the fact that he's had at least two unsuccessful hip surgeries since the last time I've seen him). The first shock came next. When he pulled out the obscure "A Million To One", I got excited. It rocked, man. I'd forgotten all about this song and it killed tonight! I feel honored that I was in the pit for its debut.
I was surprised at how well the band kept the spirit of the original versions without having to duplicate them note for note. I guess that's a skill that they honed as the house band for Rock Star : INXS and Rock Star : Supernova. Paul suggested that they should change the name to Rock Star : House Band and joked that at his first few rehearsals with them, he felt as if he was going to get voted out of the band.
The rest of the night alternated between his first solo album (which I've always loved) and KISS tunes. While you could see "Lick It Up" coming from a mile away, it was the songs like "Magic Touch" and "I Still Love You" that got me going. The former was a major pleasant surprise and the latter was given the definitive treatment. Paul sang it better than I've ever heard it and the addition of the organ was nice. There was big sing along for "Do You Love Me?" and a super heavy double shot of "I Want You" and "Love Gun" finished off the main set. I was surprised at how good the new "Lift" sounded, even sandwiched between two classics. "Lift" segued directly into "Detroit Rock City" in which the drummer really tore it up. It was quite impressive. The skinsman really surprised me on this and "I Still Love You". The show ended with the appropriate "Goodbye".
Overall, the show was pure Paul Stanley. He kept asking after every couple of songs, "Is this what you came for?" At the end of the night, despite missteps like "Hide Your Heart" and the cringe-inducing "Bulletproof", I had to say "Yes."
1. Live To Win
| Friday October 20, 2006
Shooter shouts out last night in Atlanta!
Yep, it's mine this time. I spent my birthday working. I edited all the pics from the Gene Simmons shoot, then followed with the Shooter Jennings photos. It took up most of my day. You can see the galleries of the chosen images by clicking these links.
I didn't really do anything special. I should have been out shooting either Nick Lachey or The Black Crowes tonight but to me, a special night is staying in. So that's what I did. We went out for dinner at Johnny Carino's, then we came home. I capped the evening by watching the uncut pilot of Arrested Development from the DVD set that Amanda's sister gave me as a gift. If you've never seen that show, you owe it to yourself. After seeing the first few episodes again, I think that it may be the funniest TV show ever! It's pretty hard to beat. And it really is a tragedy that it was taken off the air after only a couple of seasons. Every single episode is hysterical...especially if you watch them in sequence as one builds on the other!
Thursday October 19, 2006
Gene Simmons of KISS spreads his scent around the Mall Of Georgia... and onto my red shirt!
KISS now has a brand of fragrances that they're peddling (I know, I know...) in addition to the Coffee and caskets. Gene Simmons is on a tour going from mall to mall doing personal appearances where if you spend a bunch of money on the cologne / perfume / body wash / whatever, you get to stand in line for 3 hours, get a pic with him and he'll sign your bottle of perfume (but nothing else). The fans are thankful to be there. Gene's gracious with all of them. The mall and KISS, Inc. rack up some more dough and everyone goes home after a memorable day with a (semi) interesting story to tell.
Luckily, with me being a photog, I don't have to wait in the lines, I get to hang out in the private green room, be a fly on the wall for the interviews and all of that other stuff. The whole Belk staff and the Gemini Cosmetics crew treated us wonderfully (Thanks especially to Gigi and Neil.). When Gene arrived, I was shooting him getting out of the SUV. When a security guy started to approach us, Gene stopped him, looked at Amanda and me and said, "It's okay. I know them." Cool. I guess spending a whole evening with him and Paul Stanley at the KISS Coffeehouse opening last June paid off. When we got into the green room, Gene challenged me to photo his burp. I accepted his classy request and caught the gaseous expulsion for all to see. When the pics get posted to WireImage tomorrow, just look for the close up of Gene with his mouth open. That's the one.
During the interview, me, another photog and the 99X staff roamed around the tiny room making space for one another. Gene did his usual sexist, provocative spiel and everyone laughed even when we didn't buy it. If you want, you can actually watch this complete interview that I sat in on by clicking on one of the two links below. It's funny. Everyone in that room gets their face in these clips except me. But you do see that super-bright red shirt that Amanda talked me into wearing and my fancy camera shooting a few times. Near the end, when the cameraman pans around the room, you can briefly see just how excited Amanda is to be in the room with such a legend. If she'd have been any more worked up, she'd have been asleep! Here are the interview clips.
After all of that, Amanda got Gene to sign a couple more of my photos and he managed to keep his pristine record of always signing in the wrong color intact! I've got quite a few that he's signed at this point and every time he needs to sign with a dark pen, he uses light. Every time he needs a light one, he uses dark. It's quite frustrating. Paul Stanley, on the other hand, has done it right one hundred percent of the time!
I'll admit that I was again quite struck by the way Gene interacted with the members of the KISS Army. Many of them were in tears. He comforted them, made them feel good about themselves and was incredibly nice to each of them. He was generous with hugs and kisses and his time. One guy, teary eyed, leaned up to tell him some heartbreaking tale. It must've gotten to Gene. He told him to call somebody so he could talk to them. The guy said he didn't have a cell phone. So Gene gave him his. The guy called the number, Gene talked to whoever was on the other end with a big smile and the guy tried not to break down. It was intense. Then there were the children. Gene always offered a high five and they always accepted. There were a few girls who wanted more than an autograph and Gene handled them all very well. I did get a kick out of a couple of women in their late 50s who got on either side of him and started humping each leg. Gene nearly collapsed in laughter! Gene's favorites seemed to be the elderly. One gray haired old woman climbed on the stage and bear hugged Gene. She was barely up to his chest. These people love Gene and he loved 'em back. Even if it was for a price, I can't think of a single other celebrity who goes so out of his way to make contact with his fans. And every time one would tell him "Thank you", he would say "No, thank you for giving me the wonderful life I have". And you could tell that despite all of his bluster and arrogance that he meant it.
I stuck around for a couple of hours before heading out for dinner at Chili's. It wasn't bad. Then Amanda and I made our way out to the Shooter Jennings gig at Variety Playhouse. Shooter's band (The .357s) opened. Between sets, I caught up with Ted (the bass player) and got him to sign the new CD that I took his picture for. Ted asked me to stick around 'til after the show to go back and hang out with 'em all (and I did bring pics to sign) but the show started so late that we decided to pack it in around 11. So I still haven't heard "Aviators" live!
When I got back home, I had a message from Paul Stanley's publicist letting me know that I was good to cover his solo tour opening date Saturday. So that's good news.
| Wednesday October 18, 2006
For those of you that don't know, Frank's got a MySpace page these days and he's finally posted something. His life has taken several bizarre turns over the last few months and the latest may be the most bizarre. This is not a joke. He had to call the police to his home over it. Still - it's friggin' hysterical. Read all about it for yourself here.
Oh, I'm using my day today to try and make sure all my clearances are together for the next couple of days as well as catching up where I can. Nothing much to add beyond that.
Since I've already sent you to Frank's MySpace in this listing, I also need to share another one of my "friends" with you, I ran across "Casey Kasem's" MySpace page and it delighted me to no end. I recommend strongly that every one who shares my twisted sense of humor (or who ever listened to American Top 40) to listen to this immediately. This may even top the Iggy & The Stooges rider from yesterday! Click here to go to Casey's MySpace page and play "Death Dedication". Seriously. Do it now. The other audio clips are nearly as funny and there's even a link to a "Fun With Real Audio" type vid. You should play 'em all!
| Tuesday October 17, 2006
Today was pretty easy. I had to meet up in the afternoon with Jeff Walls (aka The Flesh Hammer) of The Woggles and Guadalcanal Diary to pass off a disc of images I took of The Woggles from the Little Steven Tour, then I had to meet up with a UGA rep to pick up the check owed to the band for our 9/22 show.
Oh yeah - and Pollstar ran one of my Aimee Mann pics from the Melting Point in Athens online today. So my promise is complete. I promised them if they got some better lighting that I'd get 'em some national coverage. I'm glad I was able to deliver on my very first attempt!
Speaking of live music (such a rare topic for me), when I was stumbling across the web, I ran across this current rider for the upcoming Iggy & The Stooges reunion tour. For those who don't know, a rider is what the artist gives to the venue, promoter and other people to let them know what they require to do their show.
Monday October 16, 2006
Grandma had to have a medical procedure done today but even though I was home, I couldn't stay that couple of extra hours because I had to get Amanda back to a meeting in the evening. So we ran some errands for her and then Amanda's Mom came and picked up Grandma to go to her appointment. It's good to know that there's some real family out there. Thanks, Kathee, for going above and beyond. You have no idea how much I appreciate you offering to do this for her. It means more than I can express in these few words here.
Anyway - after a quick lunch at LHOP, we hit the highway toward home. When I got back, my mailbox was full. Among the cool stuff inside was a copy of Paul Stanley's new solo album Live To Win AND a copy of the upcoming KISS DVD set Kissology. The album will be out on 10/24 while the DVD set is due out on Halloween. Unfortunately, both are advances so they don't have the complete artwork. In fact, the DVD's don't even have covers. They're just in white sleeves marked "Property Of MTV Networks". Oh well, it's still cool to have 'em (even if I already owned bootlegs of all of the concerts on it). While Amanda was at her meeting, I couldn't resist checking out the DVD's. The quality is great although the Winterland '75 show still has a dropout at the end of the gig. I also think it's kind of stupid for them to have incomplete versions of The Midnight Special and Paul Lynde Halloween Special footage. It just doesn't make sense. I guess my bootlegs of the complete versions will stay on my shelf after all! Still, for those who don't know they're incomplete, it's a killer collection. In addition to the Winterland '75 shows, there's full concerts from the second night in Detroit in January of '76 (Alive! Tour), the complete Budokan show from April of '77 (Rock & Roll Over Tour) and the second night of Houston from '77 (Love Gun Tour). It's a shame they couldn't get anything really pristine from the Destroyer Tour, which was arguably their most important tour. I have a mint concert bootleg of that tour from Anaheim but the sound's not that great. I can only imagine that's the reason for not including that gig. The Easter eggs on the DVD's are really obscure. If you click on the big KISS logo on disc 1, there's a song from one of their first real gigs as KISS at the Coventry club from January 1973. On disc 2, the Easter egg is raw, extremely rough footage of the guys "jamming" on "Rock & Roll All Nite" and "Shout It Out Loud" without makeup at Ace Frehley's wedding in May of '76. Since it was an advance, I didn't get any of the bonus discs. I hear that there's going to be a bonus CD and DVD with the store bought'n sets. The Wal-Mart version looks to be the best with a previously uncirculated concert from December of '77. They've cut Ace's and Peter's songs from this bonus disc (How insulting!) as well as the rare songs performed ("King Of The Night Time World" and "Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll") but it's still the ONLY one I don't already own. I hear there are different bonus discs for different stores. I believe that Amazon will have a bonus disc of NYC Feb. 77 (Their sloppy Madison Square Garden debut) and Best Buy will have the first night of Detroit in '76 (I bet they cut "Strutter" as Paul knocks his mic down and looks dumbfounded. I think Gene also forgets "Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll" and sings "Rock And Roll All Nite" over the top at that same show. Somehow, I think those will be smoothly removed). Ah, those money makers. How many die-hard KISS fans do you think will have to buy them all of the sets just to get the "bonuses"? Hmmmmm....
It's looking like it's gonna be a KISS week this week.