Monsters Of Rock: “Kiss Off The Soundboard: Live At Donnington 1996” review


Mike Singer, Music Manager

Kiss released their third live record in their “Off The Soundboard” series on June 10. This time, the recording comes from the Monsters Of Rock Festival.

As a loyal member of the Kiss Army, this live record has a lot of significance, but before we explain and conduct a deep dive into the record, let’s quickly set the scene.

Picture this, the summer of 1995, New York City, the original members of Kiss are all on stage since the 1979 Dynasty tour, as Peter Criss and Ace Frehley join Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons on stage for a taping of “MTV Unplugged.” 

Following the taping of “MTV Unplugged,” the band announces its reunion tour with an appearance at the 38th annual Grammy Awards show in Los Angeles in full makeup and costume. This marks the first time in 17 years that the four original appeared in makeup.

Finally, on June 28, 1996, the KISS Alive Worldwide Reunion tour began at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.

That brings us to this recording, August 17, 1996, at the Monsters Of Rock Festival in Donington, England.

Let’s start off with the only negative thing I really have to say about the record.

I have never been a fan of Paul Stanley’s stage raps and banter. In my opinion, it stops the flow of the concert, if, between every song, the singer has to banter and talk to the crowd. Every few songs or even once or twice a show is fine, but between every song is a bit much. 

Now, to the positives.

The record starts off with the classic opening of “you wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world, Kiss” and the band jumps right into “Deuce” off their debut record, “Kiss.”

The entire record is one hour and 41 minutes of classic Kiss songs that span over their first six records.

The one thing that makes this record stand out above the other two records in this series are some of the deep tracks that are incorporated into the setlist.

Some of those deep tracks include “Watchin’ You,” “King Of The Night Time World,” Firehouse,” and “Strutter.”

The one thing that I enjoy from live records and especially this Kiss record is the solos. The first solo comes at the end of “Shock Me” which is sung by The Spaceman, Ace Frehley. After the song ends, the band continues with a jam on stage that lasts about one minute. That is followed by Gene, Paul, and Peter leaving the stage while Ace continues with a solo for the remaining seven minutes of a 12-minute recording.

There are three other solos which include a Gene Simmons bass solo and Peter Criss drum solo during “God Of Thunder” off of 1976’s “Destroyer,” as well as a small Paul Stanley solo at the beginning of “Black Diamond.”

The one thing that is very clear to me here is the energy on stage and the noticeable chemistry between the band. This was only two months into their reunion tour, so the band is firing on all cylinders. The energy is very apparent in this recording.

Being born in the winter of 2002, I never got to see the original four members on stage together. The four only lasted until the spring of 2002 and I never got to see them all on stage playing music.

With that being said this is basically the first time since the 1998 album titled “Psycho Circus” that there have been new versions of music released with the original four.

Now it’s time for a new segment in my record reviews called The Singers Thoughts.

  1. I’m glad the band chose this concert of the tour to release as the next record of the “Off The Soundboard” series. Would I have liked them to pick the Madison Square Garden shows from July 25th through the 29th instead? Of course, that was the first time that the band played a full concert in their home city in a very long time. I said full concert because in September of ‘96 the band played a small five-song set under the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the MTV Video Music Awards.
  2. From start to end, this is a very great live record. It’s not the same live record as 1975’s “Alive.” This version of the band isn’t as hungry, they’re concert is more polished and is a well-oiled machine instead of the unknown band with a record label that was on the verge of collapsing. This version has the same energy and is just as good but unfortunately, there is no beating the original live record that put them on the map in the first place.
  3. This is a very good record, and it blows the “Kiss Off The Soundboard: Live At Virginia Beach 2004” record out of the water by a long shot.


Overall Grade: 8/10