Kiss – ‘Off the Soundboard: Live in Virginia Beach July 25, 2004’ – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss has finally realized they can make money on live Bootleg type albums just like everyone else has been doing out in the will. They are finally releasing their own Bootleg Series called “Off the Soundboard”. First up for them was the show from Tokyo 2001 which had Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Eric Singer. This time around they are going with the line-up of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. The show is Virginia Beach from July 25, 2004. This tour was the Rock the Nation Tour and one I didn’t see.

When I saw this was being released, I was excited at first as there were a handful of songs that haven’t been on all the tours so it is always great to get live versions when you can. The ones I was excited about were “Unholy”, “King of the Night Time World”, “Got to Choose” and “I Want You”. Their previous release was absolutely perfect. This one turns out, not so much…at least to me. They did maintain the same bootleg feel to the packaging as it is real simple cardboard box feel with stamped looking markings like the bootlegs of old. I do love the simplicity (even if it is a little flimsy).

I have a lot of issues with it from the fact the crowd noise is lacking as it is low in the mix and takes away the energy not having it a little more in your face…to the fact that Tommy’s guitar sounds so muddied and honestly just plain awful at times. There is no heart, no soul and it all sounds the same. Then throw in the fact that both Paul and Gene’s vocals are so blown at times that it detracts from several of the songs. And where are the solos. The last release had solos, there were none of any substance here. The final thing is Paul’s banter with the crowd is really forced at times and kind of awful at others. He normally is fantastic. Okay, enough, I’m making it sound worse than it is. Let’s get to it.

LP 1:

The album kicks off with the classic song “Love Gun” with that rat-tat-tat of the drums and the explosions. You can tell it is not cleaned up and it is the band as they really are warts and all. Not my favorite opening number, but always a good one. I don’t really hear the crowd very well which is a shame as the energy from a live show is fed back through the audience sounds. The band goes directly into “Deuce” which is always a personal favorite. Gene’s on vocals and sounds as menacing as always. The drums are great, but the guitar doesn’t have the bite the song needs. “Makin’ Love” is up next and this is one that doesn’t get played very ofter so cool to have it on here. But here is where things start to go south for me. I don’t expect Paul to sound perfect, but at least some times hitting notes. The guitar on the solo sounds good, but through the song it sounds distorted and muddy. Eric at least nails the drum part at the end. The last song on Side 1 is “Lick It Up” and not a great version. Paul’s opens with trying to get the crowd to sing the “Lick it Up” part but the crowd is so quiet…too quiet. Lacks any punch or excitement. More shitty guitar sounds and bad vocals and I am not enjoying myself so far. They did the whole “The Who” bit with the song, but not as much as they do nowadays which is a shame.

Side 2 sees Gene back at the mic with “Christine Sixteen”. Who doesn’t love a song about an older man lusting after a 16 year old…I mean really! With that aside, it is such a fun song especially when Gene speaks the lyrics as if he was talking to the girl. Disturbing topic, great song!! Then we get to “Tears Are Falling” and for me is a total train wreck from the wimpy, muddied guitar sound to Paul’s vocals, hell to even Gene’s vocals which is unusual for Gene to sing on this one to begin with. Throw in those crappy backing vocals and it might be the worst version of this song I’ve heard from the band…ever. Total nightmare. Things back on track with “She” as such as stellar live show song. Gene really sounds good on this one so not sure what happened with the last song. Also, the guitar work on here is finally stellar and fits the song better than it has been. Tommy’s jam at the end is what that song is supposed to sound like. Maybe my favorite track so far on the album. And the first LP ends with “Got to Choose” and the band seems to be back on track after a rough start. Paul sounds good again, hitting those notes, the background vocals are back and all is right with the world…for now.

LP 2:

Side 3 kicks off with “I Love It Loud” with Gene on vocals again after Paul’s intro. My only complaint is the crowd noise is lacking on the “hey, hey, hey yah’s” and shouldn’t be on this song. Otherwise, the band is attacking with the force required for this anthemic rocker. It is always a crowd favorite. “I Want You” is on deck and Paul’s vocals are still in the dugout…I know, that’s harsh but I need an analogy. This song should be more powerful and here feels lifeless and like they are going through the motions. Then we get to the interlude where Paul talks with audience and his voice is great when he hits those crazy “I Want You’s”. But the crowd needs to be moved up in the mix. A song that feels makes a great opening track is relegated to the middle of the show with “Psycho Circus”. And Paul’s opening banter is pretty lame. The song has such a bombastic opening that it is wasted here. Regardless, the band still sounds great and still give it everything. I am rather bored by the solo though. It isn’t as good as it should be.

One of the biggest reasons I was excited for this release was the fact “King of the Night Time World” was in the setlist. This song has sadly not been included on a lot of tours. And it was everything I hoped it would be. The opening guitar notes held forever by Tommy and then Eric exploding in on the drums. So cool to hear this one again. Then we get the heavy bass on the ominous “War Machine” and Gene staple. Gene is a little rough around the edges, but that only adds to this song. The background vocals are just as evil. I am not sure if he spit fire here or not but maybe so as the sirens come in at the end of the song with the buttload of drum fills by Eric. Lastly on LP 2 we get “100,000 Years” with more great bass work by Gene. I love they extend this song out to 8 minutes with the crowd participation (which volume still to low for the crowd).

LP 3:

Side 5 kicks off with the other song I was really excited about and it is Gene’s “Unholy”. With Gene’s vocals being a little gritty, it works even better on this song as it should be evil and disturbing which it does. I wish they played more from this album. Now it is time for all the classic set list ending songs starting with “Shout it out Loud” which starts off with an explosion. One of the few songs where Gene and Paul share vocal duties. Always a song that gets everyone back on their feet. Then they go in a crowd favorite, the disco rock “I Was Made For Loving You”. A song Gene hates, but understand it is a must for the fans. The vocals are little out of tune and the harmonies kind of suck, the crowd noise is lacking (still) but dang it, it is a fun song. The last track on Side 5 is another great opening track “Detroit Rock City” and of course Paul has to tell the crowd that it is about a city in name, not in spirit. That it could be any city…blah…blah…blah. There are tons of explosions and a song the band could play in their sleep. They are going out with a bang…literally.

They come back for the encore and the final two track are two of their biggest anthems. First up is the song “God Gave Rock & Roll To You II” the Argent cover that was on the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack and ‘Revenge’. I think this is an okay track, but not one I have to have to close out the show. Nowadays, the song is played as you walk out of the arena and not actually played live, and I’m okay with that. The final track is of course, “Rock And Roll All Nite” and why would it not be. Probably the band’s biggest song, but if I never hear it again, I’m good as it is on almost every live album they’ve ever put out and been in all the live shows I’ve been to see. You know what you are going to get with this one.

And there it is. I know I made it out to be awful at the beginning, but overall it is still a good show. It isn’t any where near as good as their first ‘Off the Soundboard” Tokyo release as that was a perfect 5 of 5. This one, not so much. Voices are shot, guitar is muddied and solos at time dull, crowd noise is so soft it is almost non-existent and that is pretty much it. But it still has its moments. I know they are trying to keep these as is and straight-off the soundboard, but pump up the crowd a little, I won’t tell anyone. But it still has its moments. You get “Unholy”, “King of the Night Time World” and “She” is completely and totally awesome. I will keep buying these as they keep pumping out and if rumors are true, we might get two more this year!! They need to go back and pull some older shows as that is where the money is at for me. Okay, I need to score this one. It isn’t as bad as you think, I’m just really picky. The more I heard it, the more I enjoyed and I am just vocal on what I don’t like. My Overall Score is a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars. Maybe I’ll be happier with the next one.

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – “Beth” – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  9. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  10. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  11. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  12. Kiss – “Calling Dr. Love” – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition (1977)
  13. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  14. Kiss – “Christine Sixteen” – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition (1977)
  15. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  16. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  17. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  18. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  19. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  20. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
  21. Kiss – Best of Solo Albums (1978)
  22. Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
  23. Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
  24. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
  25. Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
  26. Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
  27. Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
  28. Kiss – Killers (1982)
  29. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
  30. Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
  31. Kiss – Animalize (1984)
  32. Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
  33. Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
  34. Kiss – Asylum (1985)
  35. Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
  36. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
  37. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
  38. Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
  39. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
  40. Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
  41. Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
  42. Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  43. Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
  44. Kiss – Chikara (1988)
  45. Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
  46. Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
  47. Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
  48. Kiss – Revenge (1992)
  49. Kiss – Alive III (1993)
  50. Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
  51. Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
  52. Kiss – MTV Unplugged (1996)
  53. Kiss – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996)
  54. Kiss – Greatest Kiss (1997)
  55. Kiss – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)
  56. Kiss – Psycho Circus (1998)
  57. Kiss – The Second Coming Documentary (1998)
  58. Eric Carr – Rockology (1999)
  59. Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project (1999)
  60. Eric Singer Project – ESP (1999)
  61. Bruce Kulick – Audiodog (2001)
  62. Kiss – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (2003)
  63. Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004)
  64. Kiss – Rock the Nation Live! DVD (2005)
  65. Kiss – Alive! The Millennium Concert (2006)
  66. Paul Stanley – Live to Win (2006)
  67. Kiss – Kissology: Volumes 1 to 3 (2006-2007)
  68. Kiss – Jigoku-Retsuden (2008)
  69. Kiss – Sonic Boom (2009)
  70. Kiss – Monster (2012)
  71. Kiss – The Casablanca Singles 1973-1982 (2012)
  72. Kiss – Kiss 40 (2014)
  73. Kiss – Kiss Rocks Vegas (2016)
  74. Kiss – Kissworld: The Best of Kiss (2017)
  75. Kiss – Off the Soundboard: Tokyo 2001 (2021)
  76. Kiss – Off the Soundboard: Live in Virginia Beach July 24, 2004 (2022)
  77. Kiss – The Albums Ranked From Worst to First (2021)

27 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Off the Soundboard: Live in Virginia Beach July 25, 2004’ – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. A new live should have been a good thing but the sound quality is terrible and KISS deserves so much better. Any other Live is better. Alive I is a bit dry but some tracks are awesome, Alive II has more heat, Alive III is nice, KISS unplugged is their best live, Alive IV is really good and Alive V is Alive V.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah overall it’s pretty weak compared to the first bootleg.

    Paul is a mess but as you mentioned Gene’s vocals although rough are actually spot on for the songs he sings. And I’m pretty critical of Mr Simmons. Call me a Stanley fan. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hoping we get some 80’s shows. That would be the best but I wonder if they will go non-makeup. There is another announced with Donington ’96 and then one more to come out by the end of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review. I have the Instant Live of this show and it doesn’t sound like they have improved it in an way so that’s saved me a purchase. The reason why the crowd noise is so low is that this is a legit SBD and there are no audience mics so what we are hearing is crowd noise bleeding in via stage mics. I’m OK with that on the Instant Live thing (warts and all being its remit) but for an official release you’d have thought they would have at least laid over some crowd noise. It wouldn’t be the first time they have sweetened a “live” album 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad to get an Unholy live version. Heck anything from that album is great to get live. There won’t be any of Revenge songs on the next release, Donington 96. All classic Kiss with the original 4 from the Reunion Tour.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is higher than I originally thought as well. The final listen while I was writing the review changed my mind. Headphones on, quiet Saturday Morning and I enjoyed it a little more despite it’s major flaws.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think one thing you mentioned here is just a matter of taste. You mentioned the lack of crowd noise. Personally that is how I prefer my live albums. I like a nice clean sounding live album. The less crowd the better for me.

    However there is something lacking in Tommy’s solos. We’ve discussed this… there is a certain undescribable fire that you get with Frehley. Something wild and off the rails, that things could blow up at any moment. There’s nothing of that in Tommy Thayer. He may play the notes the same way they’re written on the paper, but only Ace has that manic explosive touch.

    Well done John. I’m the last one to come up with a review on this and I am not sure what to say because how do you keep talking about the same damn songs? LOL I dunno. Maybe I’ll just review Paul’s stage raps and nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. It is. A matter of taste. I think some crowd noise adds to the vibe of the show. A good sounding crowd makes it exciting for me.

      And I agree, what can you say on the reviews to these things. It is a lot of the same songs that we’ve reviewed a dozen times already.

      A stage rap review…now that would be fun.


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