No Makeup, No Pyro, No Problem: Ace Frehley Delivers in Concert
Ace Frehley and his excellent backing band delivered a strong, hard-hitting concert last night at the Hard Rock Rocksino near Cleveland, Ohio – without the exploding stages, spaceman costumes or hydraulic lifts employed by his former outfit.
Armed only with his trademark smoking guitar, the former Kiss star divided his set list roughly in half between solo tracks and famous songs from his old band. Although there's been some sniping between the two camps in recent years – largely over the group's fractured 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – from an outside vantage it would appear Ace is happy and exactly where he should be in life.
Frehley's damn good 2014 solo album Space Invader once again proved he shouldn't be confined to the George Harrison role in a group featuring two other strong frontmen. And on this tour Ace once again proves how vital his playing, songwriting and sensibility was to the early success of Kiss.
Whenever wrestling legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin interviews a fellow WWE star on his podcast, he asks if they consider themselves a "professional wrestler" or a "sports entertainer." It's basically a variation on the old "steak or sizzle" question, and if he posed that question to Ace, the answer would absolutely come back "professional wrestler." If you're a fan of old-school Kiss who thinks the band's (we say, still excellent) shows have wandered too far into spectacle, this concert is where you wanted to be last night.
Simply put, Frehley, second guitarist Richie Scarlett and company played songs like "Parasite," "Shock Me," and "Deuce" hard, loud and with swagger and deep, deep groves. Drummer Scot Coogan impressed by tackling lead vocals while playing "Love Gun," and bassist Chris Wyse absolutely nailed the weirdness of "Strange Ways."
But obviously and deservedly, Frehley was the star of the show, with charismatic singing, guitar playing and his trademark sense of humor on display throughout. This is the rare case where more songs from the new album would have actually been welcome – it's sad to think gems like "Inside the Vortex" and "Past the Milky Way" might never be heard live. But that's some high-level geek overthinking, Ace would be a fool to deny the crowd "Rip it Out," "Snowblind" or "New York Groove." Anyway, we're babbling. If Ace comes to your town, by all means go, that's the main point here.
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