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Kiss at Donington 1996: officially not as underwhelming as it seemed at the time

Kiss's fan-serving live series Off The Soundboard continues with their Monsters Of Rock swan song

Off The Soundboard: Live At Donington 1996 cover art
(Image: © UMC)

1996 was a momentous year for the Monsters Of Rock festival, but not for the right reasons. After 16 years, this venerable event-come-pilgrimage finally reached the end of the road. And it was Kiss who brought the curtain down once and for all. 

Europe had always been more resistant to the band’s charms than the US, and even the lure of the reunited original line-up in full make-up wasn’t enough to pack out the Donington field. The result was a damp squib of an evening that suggested the decision to shut up shop wasn’t the worst move. Still, this third instalment in the band’s under-the-radar live series suggests their 70s-centred performance wasn’t as underwhelming as it seemed at the time.

It’s a long way from the glory days of the first two Alive! albums, and it’s as unpolished as Kiss get, but the spirit of fuck-you defiance that has always lurked just beneath the surface of the band was present – not least in guitarist Ace Frehley’s could-go-off-the-rails-at-any-moment performance. 

There’s nothing here that Kiss fans won’t have heard before, and it’s unlikely anyone in attendance would want it as a souvenir of an event that had clearly reached its sell-by date. But as a snapshot of a moment in time it’s not without merit.

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.