Review: KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996

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KISS is set to release the next installment in their popular Off The Soundboard official live bootleg series with KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996, recorded during the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington Park in England on August 17, 1996. But is it any good? Read on for my thoughts.

Press Release

KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 was recorded during the final year of the original run of the renowned annual music festival held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England, and the 17-song set features powerhouse performances of classic KISS concert staples such as “Do You Love Me,” “Shout It Out Loud,” “God Of Thunder,” and the title song from their 1976 multi-platinum Top Five album Love Gun. KISS closed the festival on this date, which was also part of the highly anticipated Alive/Worldwide reunion tour featuring Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, making KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 a stunning sonic souvenir of this moment in KISStory.

KISS is globally recognized as one of the greatest live bands of all time and are the creators of what is universally considered the best live album ever, 1975’s gold-certified and No. 9 Billboard charting Alive!. The KISS – Off The Soundboard series continues their storied legacy of groundbreaking live albums with a document of the spectacular, larger-than-life extravaganza that is a KISS concert.

Known for their trademark performances, KISS has proven for decades why they are hands down the most iconic live show in rock n roll. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and are America’s #1 Gold Record Award winning group of all time in every category. Peerless as a live act, the band’s illustrious legacy has been marked by record breaking global tours during a remarkable 49-year career.

2CD

CD1

Deuce

King Of The Night Time World

Do You Love Me?

Calling Dr. Love

Cold Gin

Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll

Shout It Out Loud

Watchin’ You

Firehouse

Shock Me

CD2

Strutter

God of Thunder

Love Gun

100,000 Years

Black Diamond

Detroit Rock City

Rock And Roll All Nite

3LP

Disc 1

Deuce (Side A)

King Of The Night Time World (Side A)

Do You Love Me? (Side A)

Calling Dr. Love (Side A)

Cold Gin (Side B)

Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll (Side B)

Shout It Out Loud (Side B)

Disc 2

Watchin’ You (Side A)

Firehouse (Side A)

Shock Me (Side A)

Strutter (Side B)

God of Thunder (Side B)

Disc 3

Love Gun (Side A)

100,000 Years (Side A)

Black Diamond (Side A)

Detroit Rock City (Side B)

Rock And Roll All Nite (Side B)

My Thoughts

I think KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 is the best release, so far, in KISS’ official live bootleg series. Fans wanted a live album from KISS’ Reunion Tour back when it happened. I guess getting it 26 years late is better than it never arriving at all. This 17-song set features many of the KISS classics that fans got to enjoy during this period in the band’s history, so don’t expect to get any deep cuts with this release. If you can live with that, you’re in for a fun time.

At the end of “King of the Night Time World,” Paul Stanley asks the crowd, “Ya’ll ready to get a little fuckin’ nuts tonight? You want a little rock ‘n’ roll?!” I was taken aback the first time I heard this. It was as if Revenge-era Paul Stanley was dropping by to say, “Hello!” It made me laugh and smile. And there are other moments throughout this show when Paul curses, so brace yourself when you sit down to listen to this record for the first time. Personally, I think it adds an additional fun level of energy to the show and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

As for the audio quality, KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 sounds excellent! Everything is crystal clear; the crowd is energetic without drowning out KISS; and there aren’t any noticeable imperfections worth noting. It’s loud, clear, and impactful. I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

KISS gives an energetic performance, with all members of the band shining musically and vocally. At this point in KISStory, Paul’s voice is still impeccable and is a marvel to the ears. At his peak, this man had incredible power and range and it’s on full display here. Ace’s guitar work is a joy, Gene’s vocals and driving bass permeate the album, and Peter’s drumming and signature rasp rounds things out. It’s a great snapshot of the Reunion Tour, and I’m sure it won’t be the last one we receive.

KISS is all about having a good time. If you’re not having fun while listening to or watching KISS perform, you’re doing it wrong. KISS – Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 is the sonic embodiment of that notion, and it’s the best Off The Soundboard release to date. I didn’t get to see KISS during the Reunion Tour era, but this official live bootleg release makes me feel like I’ve got a front row seat (not to mention a time machine). This is a must-have for the KISS Army and the perfect way to remember, or experience for the first time, a pivotal moment in KISStory.

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