Tonight was going to be exciting and the simple reason was that former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley was touching ground for not only one but two rocking shows at the legendary B.B. King Blues Club in Times Square. I somehow missed the last show that Ace did over at the Best Buy Theater so I was happy to have the chance to catch one of these sure to be amazing gigs by the Spaceman. Opening for the guitar alien would be the band The Biters and they would perform on each of the two nights. Based on my own itinerary I opted for the first show of the two and arrived just in time to catch the openers. The club was packed almost to the doors and here is how the night went down if you didn’t find yourself attending.
The Biters: Hailing from Georgia, The Biters were a new band to my musical senses and that left me slightly curious about how they might come across this evening. In the past the openers were not received well by this kind of fan support and I have seen bands like Queensryche given a cold shoulder when it came to a KISS music hungry crowd. I kid you not. Anyways, these guys were a whole lot of fun and delivered a set that was nothing less than Rock and Roll energy. Even though the club was packed solid, these guys were delivering a stadium quality fun time show. I don’t often think the openers are ready for the big time, but it seemed clear to me that The Biters were not going to settle for anything less. As I said, all of their music was new to me with the exception of their cover of Cheap Trick’s “He’s A Whore”. That classic band is actually a good type to compare these young upstarts to. They already have a couple of albums out and I think we have not heard the last of them. That is a good thing. I will definitely catch them again if I know that they are playing somewhere.
Set List: Oh Yeah (The Bitch Wants More), Breakin' Your Heart Again, Electric Nights, Born To Cry, He’s A Whore, Boy's Alright, Hang Around, Melody For Lovers, So Cheap, So Deadly
Ace Frehley: It was just around 9 or so when the familiar melody of “Fractured Mirror” from Ace’s 1978 solo album began to play through the venue’s PA system. This was preceded by an introduction from manager Danny Stanton who showed off the guitarist’s new autobiography. He said that while the book was coming out next week that they had signed copies available at the merchandise booth upstairs. That was cool to have this well in advance and with the autograph because the KISS fans eat stuff like this up. Ace and his band arrived to start off the night with the song “Rocket Ride” and this is a fantastic opener if you ask me because it’s just such a driving tune with a catchy chorus. Looking around I could see that the club was packed to the doors and that was a great way to welcome back the Bronx born musician who we knew was going to give us a kick ass night of music. He sported a dark pair of shades that never left his face and a leather jacket for a little while and kicked the KISS material into gear by delivering “Parasite” as his second tune. If you have never seen Ace before you should know that he keeps the KISS tunes as a strong focus of his set. Not that I was arguing about this of course. “Sister” was up next and this was the only song that we would get from the acclaimed “Anomaly” release of a couple of years ago. I was not sure why he wouldn’t give us a little more from it, but I was happy with what we got just the same.
Ace appeared to be in great spirits and his rock solid band helped this be the case as Scotty Coogan handled drums, Anthony Esposito the bass and Todd Youth did second guitar and additional vocals. Actually, everyone appeared to be an accomplished vocalist this evening and that let Ace breath a little easier and count on his companions to do the occasional song. When Ace spoke to the crowd it was from the heart at times and from his funny bone at others. He spoke quickly about Gene’s wedding and asked the band should we play “Hava Nagila” and when he referred to his new book he asked us all had we seen the cover and mused aloud how “he hoped people didn’t think it was Tommy Thayer”. The power of KISS material was very strong in the room and when one of their tunes was played the entire room seemed to sing along or at least respond. I know that I was higher than the groundlevel when it happened and as each song came up managed to get even more excited than for the previous tune. In total Ace would play thirteen KISS songs and if you added the four from the solo album he released while still a member of KISS that brought us up to seventeen. For “New York Groove” the lighted guitar came out and it was during his ripping solo that the smoking guitar came into play. I was really happy to see him use that one in such close quarters. Awesome to behold really. The only song from his Frehley’s Comet time came via “Rock Soldiers” and I guess that is okay even though I loved “Breakout” and would have enjoyed hearing it tonight as well. Todd Youth did some justice on “Flaming Youth” and it’s such a good song in the live sense and not one we always get to hear as KISS fans unless we play the CD for “Destroyer”. I realize that Ace kept to the absolute classics in terms of his KISS offerings tonight but really would have found it cool had he decided to pull “Torpedo Girl” or “Talk To Me” out of the hat from the “Unmasked” album. Maybe some other time he will if he even sees public thoughts like this and considers them of importance.
I couldn’t find a single issue with the evening and had to say that it was one of the best musical times in awhile for me. I generally love seeing a live concert, but this was one that really hit close to my musical psyche and left me screaming for even more even though we had just enjoyed twenty one songs. Ace was gone from the stage quickly and I left shortly after myself. I didn’t see him doing any kind of meet and greet with the audience and while that was a shame, it is not the kind of thing that we always find happening. At least fans could snare the book in advance and find it being a signed copy for no additional charge. Ace would return for the fans tomorrow and while I would have loved to return myself, it was not possible. I do look forward to his return and suggest that when he comes back that you get yourself into the venue as well. You will thank me later.
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Official Web Site: www.acefrehley.com
Official Web Site: www.wearethebiters.com
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