Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aces High

Ace Frehley

Venue: House of Blues Cleveland
Date: November 8, 2011

"Rock soldiers come/Rock soldiers go/Some hear the drum/Some never know/Rock soldiers, how do we know?/Ace is back and he told ya' so." From the Gospel of Ace Frehley, Book Frehley's Comet, sec. Rock Soldiers

Ace Frehley has just released a new book entitled No Regrets and this writer had no regrets seeing him in concert this past Tuesday. Lame jokes aside, Frehley has found new life after overcoming a long battle with alcoholism and his live performance shows he‘s still “got“ it. The best part is he played tunes to catch everyone’s attention from his KISS songs, solo songs, and some KISS songs fans haven’t heard live in a long time.

From the get-go Frehley was on a mission as he attacked the guitar with a spaced-out opener in “Rocket Ride” and then followed it up with the speedy and scrambling “Parasite.” The crowd was frenzied with Frehley’s stage presence and seeing him play the guitar up close. He also had the perfect backing band to suit him.

The three supporting members brought new energy to classic KISS songs and also had vocal chops to pull off some numbers. Drummer Scot Coogan delivered a great rendition of the bombastic “Love Gun” and brought the force with “Lover Her All I Can.” Bassist Anthony Esposito gave a devilish and more aggressive approach to “Strange Ways” from KISS’s second album “Hotter than Hell.” Newcomer guitarist Todd Youth gave a sterling performance of “Flaming Youth” and if there was any "Destroyer" song Frehley was going to play; one would think that song would be on the bottom of the list. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that track.

Frehley would keep the surprises coming with a rocking version of “Hard Times” from “Dynasty.” However, before that he proclaimed he would be playing a song that had never been played live. That song would be “What’s on Your Mind” from the 78’ solo record. Not to be outdone with that, he dusted off “She” and the riff driven song shined in the live setting. Old favorites still littered the set with “Shock Me” providing the electricity to the crowd and the audience clapped their hands to "2000 Man” which while a cover song; the lyrics kind of define the Spaceman.

The best part of this concert was hearing Frehley pull out “Rock Soldiers” from his first Frehley’s Comet record. The thumping and pounding drums makes this song an instant classic, and the crowd delivered every word. Hearing Frehley say “Ace is back and he told ya so” was awesome and a personal highlight. The other major positives was the band bringing energy and heaviness to songs of old like “Snowblind,” “Rip it Out,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and especially “Deuce.” Hearing the ending solo to the song live was awesome and they also played added a solo section to “New York Groove,” which Frehley changed to “Cleveland Groove.”

Without a doubt, this is one the best shows I have seen and it is great to see Frehley bring the goods and being back on track since becoming clean and sober. Near the end of the show he joked with the crowd “As Paul Stanley would say ’give yourselves a round of applause’.” Frehley was laughing as he said it because he knew that the statement is as goofy as it sounds. Rest assured I gave an applause, but it was not for myself; it was for seeing one of the greats on stage giving a performance one would never forget.

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