Mr. Speed Delivers a Bombastic Tribute to KISS at Carteret Performing Art Center Carteret, NJ (May 19th, 2023)!

You wanted the best KISS tribute band; you got them, Mr. Speed, at Carteret Performing Art Center in Carteret, NJ, on May 19, 2023!...

Live Gig Review and Photos by Robert Cavuoto

 

 

You wanted the best KISS tribute band; you got them, Mr. Speed, at Carteret Performing Art Center in Carteret, NJ, on May 19, 2023! These four diehard KISS fans are also highly talented musicians who have meticulously put together one of the finest shows possible in an era of KISS that was underserved in the US for the Unmasked album. At the time, KISS had a striking new look with music that was either loved or hated by fans. The only US show KISS performed for Unmasked was at the Palladium in New York City on July 25, 1980. The show served as a warm-up for their extensive European, Australian, and New Zealand tour that same year.

KISS had just come off their 1979 Dynasty album that was disco influenced while shedding their trademark black and silver outfits for a more colorful look. The songs on the Unmasked album transitioned further to a more popper vibe, with some of the band’s members’ outfits taken up a notch or two on flamboyance. It was a time of departure for KISS, both musically and aesthetically. After the album’s release, the band lost an original member, Peter Criss, who was replaced by Eric Carr the Fox. Also, Ace had one foot out the door!

Mr. Speed represents KISS for all the great things from the era when KISS were hungry and delivering an over the top bombastic shows. Mr. Speed features Rich Kosak on guitar (aka Paul Stanley), Mike Collins on bass (aka Gene Simmons), Mark Hermansen on lead guitar (aka Ace Frehley), and newest member Rich Hattery on drums (aka Eric Carr). Their elaborately and meticulously designed costumes and stage are a dream come true for all KISS fans and garnered them the moniker “Greatest KISS Tribute in the World.” Tonight was an opportunity to immerse yourself in the energy, pageantry, and bombastic’s of KISS while losing all perspective of reality during this time-traveling experience.

All members of Mr. Speed acted, sounded, and channeled their respective KISS members, from the mannerisms to the vocal inflection to playing the songs perfectly. Watching them alongside other adoring fans was pure “fandemonium!” It harkened back to a simpler time when your four heroes entertained you to a state of euphoria. Fans were taken back in the Mr. Speed hot tube time machine as they cheered, sang, and raised their fist in homage to the band. These four musicians, fans, and, yes – magicians seamlessly tricked your mind into believing the unbelievable!

KISS has always given their fans 110% regardless of the line-up while in and out of make-up, and tonight Mr. Speed’s show was delivered precisely the same thing with passion and heart. From the moment the band appeared on stage for “Detroit Rock City,” all Hell broke loose on and off stage as fans rushed the stage! Welcome to the greatest tribute show on Earth!

Their set list covered the best-of-the-best KISS songs, including “Shout it Out Loud,’ “Love Gun,” “Stutter,” “Black Diamond,” and “I Was Made for Loving You.” They included “Is That You,” “Talk to Me,” and “Shandi” off Unmasked and “Radioactive” off Gene’s solo album. There was never a moment of downtime during this 90-minute show; it was an all-out assault on all your senses.

Rich’s passion for pursuing his lifelong dream of being the Starchlid could be felt all the way to the last row of the theater. He was downright frightening in his accuracy of depicting Paul as he danced, pranced, sang, and romanced his way through the show!

Mike delivered the blood-spitting and snarling of the Demon with ease! He brandished his Punisher bass for the majority of the show and wielded his Axe bass during “God of Thunder” as blood spewed down his face with a gory appeal.

Mark channeled the Spaceman from Jendell while taking lead vocals on three of Ace’s most famous songs, “2000 Man,” New York Groove,” and “Talk to Me.”  He was the epitome of Ace, delighting fans with his pyrotechnic guitar playing and solos.

Only four shows in with the band, Rich H. brought the Fox back with honor and grace, replicating Eric’s smile, heart, and monster double bass drumming abilities while playing high about the stage on his 4-foot-high silver fox lair! He crushed the songs and served as the band’s engine room, bringing the songs to another level, as did when Eric joined in 1980!

The mechanics of the show are flashy and on par with the musicianship. Though the venue would not allow Mr. Speed to use fire, confetti cannons, and the smoking guitar, the band brought a barrage of lightning, smoke machines, and an enormous light-up KISS logo. Even the amplifier cabinets that graced the stage had KISS logos affixed to them, a special nuance that kept the audience steadily impressed.

Rich K., Mike, Mark, and Rich H. upheld KISS’ legacy with integrity and the mantra that you can still “Rock n Roll All Night and Party Every Day.” KISS had remarkable faith in how their personal tastes could coincide with everyone else, from the most innocent to the most informed. Mr. Speed is equally confident in bringing you this show. Unleash your inner Demon, Starchild, Spaceman, and Fox, and enjoy the show. As I left the venue and passed my fellow KISS Army members, everyone I could see was grinning ear-to-ear. Check out my interview with Rich Kosak about the band’s history and visit their website to see when they are playing in a town near you! 

 

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