Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ace is back: KISS co-founder rocks Hard Rock Rocksino

NORTHFIELD, Ohio — Deciding to do some things are game-time decisions.

KISS co-founder Ace Frehley performs Friday
at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, Pa.
Greg Hounshell, a good friend of CCC blogger
Cary Ashby, snapped this picture from the front row.
In the case of going to see my man Ace Frehley at the Hard Rock Rocksino, it was more of a pregame decision.

About 12:30 p.m. Saturday, I decided I would regret not seeing Frehley if I didn't go. So off I went to the Norwalk Public Library and bought a ticket on Stub Hub. Fast-forward about 7 1/2 hours later as I was waiting for the show to start. Come to find out I was sitting by Mike Natt, the very guy who put the ticket on the website that very same day.

Natt told me his buddy informed him he couldn't make the concert, only to turn around and say he could go. Natt said he went back onto Stub Hub about 12:30 p.m. and sure enough, I'd bought the ticket already.

This was my first solo concert outing. My co-worker and good buddy Scott Seitz, whom I've been attending concerts with since I moved to northern Ohio 11 years ago, was obligated to cover the St. Paul-Western Reserve football game. (Not surprisingly, the Flyers destroyed the Roughriders 34-0.)

Seitz missed a good show; Frehley's band put on a solid concert.

KISS' original lead guitarist threw in a few setlist rarities. Or at least I'd never heard Frehley do "Snowblind" (from his 1978 KISS solo album), "Strange Ways" (a killer, forgotten track from the second KISS album) and "2 Young to Die," which was dedicated to the late Eric Carr, KISS' second drummer (aka the Fox).
Many thanks to the nice woman on the front row
who took this photo of yours truly Saturday.
I'm standing in front of the stage at Hard Rock Live
in the Hard Rock Rocksino outside of Cleveland.

I also was pleased to hear Frehley's autobiographical "Rock Soldiers" — a hashtag I used for pictures I posted on social media — and "Parasite."

Frehley opened with two songs from his most recent album SPACE INVADER, "Toys" and his single, "Gimme a Feelin'." The band also performed the title track later in the concert. (Here's my review of the album.)

Otherwise, the set list focused on Frehley's solo material and songs he wrote when he was with KISS.

The only unusual choice — or rather, lack of one — was the noticeably absent "Cold Gin," but for my money it didn't bother me since I enjoyed the variety of songs Frehley and his band performed.

As he did when he played at Cleveland's House of Blues in 2009, Frehley's drummer sing a couple tunes. This time, each of the band members sang lead vocals at least once. (This was a different band, but equally up to the task of rockin' Frehley's and KISS' songs.) 

Former Lita Ford drummer Scot Coogan sang "Love Gun," the fifth song. He also took lead on another Paul Stanley KISS tune, "Detroit Rock City," the first of the two-song, KISS-focused encore. Frehley, who wore a Texas cowboy shirt during the encore, ended the show with "Deuce," written by Gene Simmons.
Ace Frehley's drummer, Scot Coogan, rocks out Friday at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, Pa.

Rhythm (and sometimes lead) guitarist Richie Scarlett sang lead vocals on "2 Young to Die." He's played with Frehley on and off for 20-plus years.

Rock legend Ace Frehley strikes one of his memorable
poses as he plays Friday at the Palace Theater
in Greensburg, Pa. Frehley's shirt says "New York City."
For a few songs, Scarlett and Frehley traded guitar licks. My biggest complaint about Saturday's concert was Scarlett seemed to grand-stand a bit much with his gestures. There also were a few times as the show progressed the production sound on the guitars was slightly on the muddy side.

Bassist Chris Wyse had a solo before the band took the stage again to play a great rendition of "Strange Ways." Wyse, who has played with Ozzy Osborne and The Cult, did an admirable job on lead vocals.

Coogan has a very strong and impressive voice; he sounds better than Stanley has in years. As Frehley said when he introduced his bandmates, Coogan "has the best voice in the band."

What about Frehley?

He was in good voice — or at least as high quality as his unique, somewhat whiney vocals can be. 

Space Ace once again nailed his solos and riffs. He employed his iconic smoking guitar during his lengthy "Shock Me" solo. As with his days during the KISS reunion era, he was worth the price of admission.
Greg Houshell gives a thumbs-up with guitar god and KISS  co-founder Ace Frehley
during a meet-and-greet session after Friday's concert at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, Pa.

Frehley used his strobe-light guitar to perform "New York Groove," one of the night's highlights along with "Rocket Ride."

 Needless to say, I'm glad I went. Maybe next time I won't be flying solo and fellow rock solider Seitz can join me. Grade: B+
Of course Ace Frehley still uses his strobe-light guitar
when he performs "New York Groove"!
The KISS co-founder designed the guitar and premiered it
during the band's 1979 tour — and has used it ever since.
Note how the neck of the guitar says "Ace Frehley."
Set list — Sept. 19, 2015 at Hard Rock Live (inside the Hard Rock Rocksino):
Fractured Mirror (pre-concert music) — Toys — Gimme a Feelin' — Rocket Ride — Parasite — Love Gun — Breakout — Space Invader — Snowblind — Rock Soldiers — Chris Wyse's bass solo/Strange Ways — New York Groove — 2 Young 2 Die — Shock Me — Rip It Out 
Encores: Detroit Rock City — Deuce

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