Ace Frehley @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (4/4/2008)

Having been a KISS fan since a year that I no longer choose to disclose, I could not resist the chance to be up front and center as their former guitarist headlined the Nokia Theatre Times Square after being out of the limelight for so many years. The great show found the musician “Back In The New York Groove” and to read more just scroll past the logo. This would be a great way for me to spend PiercingMetal’s Third Anniversary of being a Metal Reporting website.

Logo - Ace Frehley

Artist: Ace Frehley
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: The Trews
Date: 4/4/2008
Label: Megaforce Records

The song “Back In The New York Groove” would be the perfect illustration of this event as legendary KISS guitarist Ace Frehley returned to his home stomping grounds for a performance at the Nokia Theater in Times Square. Since his apparent final departure from KISS back in 2003, the musician has not really been heard from all that much and while his role in KISS had been filled by Tommy Thayer, you know that the hard core fans of the man were dying to see him perform once again. The chance for this would come at the annual Halloween party for radio personality Eddie Trunk in 2007 and the gig would be at the nearby Hard Rock Café. However, given the size of the venue only a few hundred of the faithful would get their chance to enjoy the show and with the amount of mid-sized venues in the immediate vicinity there were many who were finding this quite the shame. Fortunately he would announce a tour for early 2008 and be hitting some of the larger venues. Even better was the news that he would not be playing any new material until his album was released and instead be performing a lot of KISS classics and his best solo material. He had also assembled a top notch band of players that featured Derek Hawkins on guitar, Scott Coogan on drums and Anthony Esposito on bass. Here are some of the evening’s highlights.

The show was kicked off by The Trews but I didn’t bother getting in there to see them since for me it was going to be all about the Space Ace tonight. I had heard they were one of those Rock acts that had a lot of common traits to bands like Velvet Revolver. Instead I caught up with friends at the nearby watering hole Smith’s and everyone was exchanging KISS stories or Ace stories and how it all fit in with the other music goings on of the day. The common vibe was that tonight was going to be exciting and was a show that everyone had been waiting to happen for a long time. Inside the venue they were now checking the patrons for cameras which was a surprise since I had heard originally that they were allowed. Some venues don’t care while others are a bit more rigid about it so I guess the best bet is to check the day you are going to something so you don’t have to leave it somewhere and hope it will be there when you return. The lights went down in the house and the stage lights went off to bring on the guitarist who was led in by a computerized voice. Of course something was amiss as they paused this for a few moments only to begin it once again but only moments after that finished there he was in all his glory – The Space Ace had landed on home ground once again. He would open with “Rip It Out”, a staple kick off number and he really sounded great considering we have not heard about him doing any shows for a couple of years. Clearly the guitarist was in good form as he next delivered “Hard Times” from “Dynasty”. I don’t think I have ever heard him play this one live in my life so it was a real treat to experience tonight. The guys in Ace’s band were clearly top notch talented guys and were holding their own as if they had been performing with him forever. I had to say that Ace also looked and sounded really good especially after all of the years he had spent battling the bottle. Now clean and sober, the musician was on a mission to remain this way and deliver the music his fans have loved for decades without hindrance.

KISS classics were the bounty tonight as he went far back into the catalog to bring us “Parasite” and when he got to “Snowblind” from his incredible solo album he even managed to cleverly work portions of “I Want You” into the number which brought it to new and exciting life. We were only at the fourth song and already the energy level was at a peak so this would definitely be a night to remember. Visually, Ace was decked out in a leather jacket and shades and his microphone stand was loaded up with guitar picks that he tossed out into the crowd faster than they could be replaced by the road crew. He would keep his banter to the audience to a minimum and instead simply play his heart out. He did manage to dedicate “Breakout” to the late, great Eric Carr which I found to be very classy, and he only mentioned KISS in passing as “his last band” before he did “Into The Void”. He would do a kick ass medley that blended a KISS classic, his solo album and then Frehley’s Comet material all together and it really worked out well. Of course we had the lighted guitar for “New York Groove” and this tune while great in any live situation hold just that much more power when done in the place that it was written about. It’s important to note that drummer Scottie Coogan was also doing a lot of the singing from up behind his drum kit and truly doing an incredible job of this at the same time. Some of the tunes tonight I had expected because they are Ace standards, such as “Shock Me” and “Rocket Ride” but I really didn’t expect him to do “2000 Man” tonight and loved that he did. Perhaps his doing this with the soon to be reunited KISS at their “Unplugged” performance was the catalyst for this being a part of his repertoire once again and whatever the case was I was totally cool with it. Another surprise would be “Love Her All I Can” from the “Dressed To Kill” album and his killer delivery of “Love Gun” sung by Coogan. He would close out the night without another KISS track from the bands own debut with “Cold Gin” but mix it up at the finale by turning the end into the same riffs that normally close out “Black Diamond”. Whew, this was one hell of a show and it was great to see the response from the audience be so positive for a man who really deserves the attention and accolades. The show was sold out and jam-packed with KISS fans and with being the case we could be sure that he would return again in the near future. I had so much fun here tonight that I can hardly wait for his next go round whenever he chooses to do it.

Ace had announced that his new solo album would come out at some point during late 2008 but no other details have surfaced about it in terms of the material he is working on or its pending title.

Set List:
1. Rip It Out
2. Hard Times
3. Parasite
4. Snowblind/I Want You
5. Rock Soldiers
6. Breakout
7. Into The Void
8. Strangeways
9. Medley (Torpedo Girl, Speedin Back To My Baby, 5 Card Stud, Trouble Walkin’)
10. New York Groove
11. Shock Me
12. Guitar Solo
13. Rocket Ride
14. Deuce
15. Love Her All I Can
16. Love Gun
17. Cold Gin
18. Black Diamond – outro

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