Donington '96 - 17th August

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Review by Joop van Pelt taken from KISS Kollector issue 19
Pictures taken by Sidney Brandeis

Special thanks to Joop for allowing me to use the review and pictures

"Alright Donington! You wanted the best, you got the best!! The hottest band in the world: KISS!!!" came through the PA while the KISS helicopter was circling over the festival site. The four blow up dolls were hanging at stageleft and the band kicked off with Deuce. Without time to breath things quickly continued with King Of The Night Time World (and Ace on one knee in front of the amp to create some feedback at the Ace - Copyright Joop van Peltstart of the tune). Some 80,000 rockmaniacs were blown away by KISS' performance, but personally I was most blown away by the fact that a few hours before showtime Ace could hardly stand on his own feet while now he was on the stage nothing seemed to be the matter (backstage one of the other musicians, unable to understand this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide conversion, exclaimed: "That's not Ace!" when he got in the van all by himself again just prior to the show). Ace rocked like we've come accustomed to and only fucked-up - as far as I noticed - some of his parts in Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll. And the only fuck-up Peter made - again as far as I could tell - was the intro for Strutter, as he couldn't keep up with the tempo at all. Word has it that during the tour Gene is regularly making fun of Peter being slow, but I do not know if that's just a nice little anecdote or a fact. Also reported is that Peter is on oxygen after every show. Who's to know? On the outside everything looks just fine and the whole band put down a damn good show.

Do You Love Me (with that great new ending) and Calling Dr. Love preceded Cold Gin, which was sung by Gene and Ace, just like at the other shows on this tour. The intro to this alcoholic Paul - Copyright Joop van Peltsong gave Paul the opportunity to do his (pathetic?) "don't drink and drive" rap, which seems a bit out of place at a huge rockshow like this (or at lease the way he did it - kind of singing it like a gospel...). One of the best and also most underrated KISS songs (in my opinion anyways) was next: Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll, including that fabulous 1975/'76 'jamsession' in the middle. Shout It Out Loud I could have done without, but okay different strokes for different blokes and all that (the new videoclip is very, very cool though). Watching you and Firehouse - including Gene's firebreathing act - warmed up the crowd for the first real spectacular theatrics. During Shock Me Ace got to take the spotlight all by himself, and that's something he can handle very well. First, while he was doing his guitar solo, his Les Paul started smoking (although that took a while!) and if that wasn't inconvenient enough for him, the guitar flew all the way to the lighting truss. That didn't seem to bother Ace 'cause he just grabbed another guitar and started firing rockets towards the ceiling as if he was aiming for the lights.

Strutter gave the audience the opportunity to catch some breath Ace - Copyright Joop van Peltand do a reality-check, but before everybody could figure out what the hell was going on Gene started vomiting blood and even flew all the way to the lighting truss from where he sang the first part of God Of Thunder. Believe me: the Demon is back! It's so impressive, and scary might I add, to see him fly all that way to the ceiling and stand on the lighting truss. Love Gun closed the regular set (the show was some 15 minutes shorter than the other performances on this tour; they didn't do Rock Bottom, New York Groove nor Beth) and while the video screens showed the morphing solo album faces the crowd asked for more. KISS, of course, obliged and did Black Diamond during which the three guitarists went up the hydraulic platforms and were risen above and over the audience, while Peter's drumkit rose all Gene & Joop - Copyright Joop van Peltthe way to the ceiling too. Rock And Roll All Nite, and a huge confetti storm and incredible fireworks, ended the mindblowing show. And the fireworks would light the sky for a while after the show had ended (like the Anaheim '76 show) and people started leaving the festival site. A great day had come to an ending in a great way. Too bad there wasn't too much KISS merchandise there that day, as I had expected a little more after having experienced it all in New York where it seemed as if the whole KISS museum was on sale at the shows.

Also, I expected a little more KISS coverage in the media. Unlike the States, magazines over here still weren't doing coverstories on the band and as for TV I only saw some live footage (and short interviews) on MTV (although they had quite a few reports on KISS on MTV News). Apparently the press over here still doesn't get it, as the reviews range from (very) negative to positive - it's still a matter of "you either love them or hate them", there seems to be no where in between. And that's probably the only way KISS wants to be looked at. They do behave like it's the seventies all over again, nobody may photograph them without the make up, they don't do meet 'n' greets, photographers have to sign contracts if they want to make pictures of them onstage, television crews are only allowed to film like 90 seconds of the show (although exceptions are being made, just have a look at MTV...) and everybody talks about them again.

An alternative review is available here

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