Ace Frehley Scout Bar December 2, 2014
Members of the KISS Army started to grow a little restless Tuesday, as the night closed in on 11 p.m. and Ace Frehley had not appeared on the Scout Bar stage. An hour earlier, the crowd had chanted "We Want Ace!" and "Bring on Ace!" As time continued to tick forward with no appearance, one man in the crowd shouted, "Hurry up, Ace, get your old-man ass out here!" The frustrated crowd then started chanting, "Bullshit! Bullshit!" around 10:56 p.m., followed by a few boos.
An unverified rumor going around the crowd was that Ace was busy backstage with a large number of fans who paid for the V.I.P. Experience package, which included a meet-and-greet and personal photo with Ace before the show. As 11:20 p.m. rolled around, some concerned fans started to ask each other whether there was a curfew in place that would not allow the concert to go forward at all.
But finally, around 11:30 p.m., a recording of Frehley's song "Fractured Mirror" began to play and Ace and his band hit the stage to open with "Rip It Out" from his 1978 self-titled solo album. The crowd erupted in cheers, and the long wait had seemingly been forgiven.
The next two songs, "Gimme a Feelin'" and "Toys," came from Ace's latest album, Space Invader and were well received, as was the album itself. Released in August, it debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, making it the guitarist's highest-charting album ever.
Ace didn't perform in his "Spaceman" makeup -- current KISS lead guitarist Tommy Thayer has taken over that persona, much to my chagrin -- instead wearing a black Polo T-shirt, paisley-print white jacket, black leather pants, boots and his now ever-present sunglasses. He appeared laid-back as he effortlessly cranked out the lead riffs and guitar solos to classic KISS songs such as "Parasite" and "Love Gun," keeping his comments between the songs to a minimum so the music could do the talking.
He couldn't resist a few digs at his old KISS bandmates, however. During the introduction to "Snowblind," he mentioned in a disapproving tone that everyone was doing cocaine at the time the song was written, except for Gene and Paul; after the performance of "Strutter" with drummer Scot Coogan on vocals, Ace exclaimed, "You sing that shit like Paul used to sing it!"
In addition to Coogan, Frehley shared vocal duties with rhythm guitarist Richie Scarlet, who sang "Breakout" from 1987's Frehley's Comet album, and bassist Chris Wyse, who sang "Strange Ways" off KISS's Hotter than Hell album. Wyse also played a bass solo that sounded similar to the one Gene Simmons has performed over the years, though Wise didn't spit blood or fly up into the rafters at its conclusion.
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Ace didn't shoot rockets out of his guitar as he did back when he was with KISS, either, but he did play his Les Paul guitar that emits smoke during "Shock Me" and proclaimed, "Still Fucking Smoking!" Coogan later cheered Frehley on during his guitar solo, which sounded very much like the solos he has played so many times over the years with KISS during and after their heyday, most notably the one recorded for the Alive! album.
Scout Bar was packed with fans ranging from young children with their parents all the way to people way past middle age; all of them ate it up. The biggest crowd reactions occurred during "Rock Soldiers," also from Frehley's Comet, and "Rocket Ride" from Alive II. Devil horns aplenty were flying as well as many cell phones, up in the air recording the proceedings.
Like at a '70s KISS concert, I did smell a little scent of sweet leaf in the air, however briefly; unlike at a '70s KISS concert, I noticed most of the guys in attendance had short hair, including yours truly. A significant portion of the crowd was wearing baseball caps, plus one dude in a cowboy hat. I saw only one guy in "Spaceman" makeup, but he didn't go all-out with the entire costume, opting for a simple KISS T-shirt and jeans.
Even without the benefit of the makeup and theatrical gimmicks of a giant KISS arena show, Ace and his band put on an entertaining and energetic rock and roll show. As far as I could tell, during each song Ace played all his guitar parts, including the solos, note for note the same as the original recorded versions. Just try to start the show a little earlier the next time you come through, Ace.
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