Concert Review: Ace Frehley at The Junkyard in Nashua, NH
Ace Frehley Rating:
October 23, 2011
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
You could create a great debate over whether a true KISS fan would rather see KISS in 2011 featuring Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer performing vintage KISS material or that that the same fan would rather see original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley on his own performing some of the same vintage material along with songs from his various solo projects. Based on the set list performed in Nashua, NH I think the majority of the members of the devoted KISS Army in attendance would concur that although Ace is playing without any special effects, makeup and flat form shoes he more than made up for it in with his tight band, interesting choices of songs, and of course his one of a kind guitar sound and passion when playing, which is something the current KISS lineup sorely lacks.
The show started off with the intro to “Fractured Mirror” from Ace’s 1978 solo record recently named by “That Metal Show” host Eddie Truck as one of his top five instrumental metal/hard rock songs of all time. Then a blast off into space with “Rocket Ride”, the kind of up tempo KISS song that got the Army off to a real rocking start. Next up was another high energy song with “Parasite” with Ace handling the Gene lead vocal parts. The first solo tune of the night was “Sister” which finally saw the light of day when it was recorded for Ace’s 2009 release Anomaly although Ace had been performing the song since his debut solo show in 1985. (Yes I have an audio copy of the show if someone wants to challenge me on that one!) I always thought it was a strong tune and was happy to see it a part of his permanent recorded library and remain a part of his current life shows.
Next up was a three song medley which started off with “Snowblind” a song which Ace joked was about “cocaine use” something he doesn’t have time for any longer which led into a brief chorus of “I Want You” with drummer Scott Coogan doing a masterful job on lead vocals (using his best Paul Stanley voice) and ending with a full version of the Frehley’s Comet track “Rock Soldiers” which has become an anthem of sorts for Ace since the track is so autobiographical in nature. If I were picking the set list another medley or two of tracks from Second Sighting and Trouble Walking would have been cool since there were no songs played tonight from either release. A minor consideration which took nothing away from some otherwise great set list choices.
Next up was “Too Many Faces” from Anomaly which went right into what I thought was the best song of the night “Love Her All I Can” the rarely played classic from Dressed to Kill. I thought the co lead vocals again from Scott and bassist Anthony Esposito gave the song some extra punch and the crowd seemed even more fired up than at any point of the night..including yours truly! What followed was ‘What’s on Your Mind” from Ace’s 1978 solo debut which I had never heard before live and it worked well. That led directly into “Hard Times” from the 1979 KISS album Dynasty and one of my favorite Ace KISS tunes from the past.
I think the shocker of the night was the performance of “Flaming Youth,” another rarely performed KISS track from Destroyer that got the crowd cheering loudly singing along with the rest of the band. Ace also did “Into the Void” from the 1998 KISS album Psycho Circus and maybe that album’s best song. Next up was “Strange Ways” with Anthony handling the Peter Criss lead vocal duties and did a credible job with a style very similar to the original. “New York Groove” followed, the surprise Billboard top ten single from Ace’s 1978 solo record. In typical Ace fashion he began to chant “I’m back in the Nashua Groove” after first whispering to Anthony on stage “where are we again?” That may have put the biggest smile on my face of the whole night. Well I also got a chuckle from the Ace statement “Oh and by the way whoever owns these monitors on stage can go f–k themselves” after experiencing some technical difficulties throughout the night.
“She” followed next and went directly into ‘Shock Me” which included the Ace guitar solo minus the smoking guitar effect because Ace announced following completion of the song that he “broke it” by accident. He then said “I hope this makes up for it” and started to play the opening riff of ‘Deuce” which sent the crowd into a fury!
The encore included “Rip it Out” followed by “Love Gun” with another monster lead vocal from Scott on drums and the night ended with a bang with “Cold Gin”. All in all a very solid performance from Ace and his band which also included Todd Youth on rhythm guitar. Ace is a living legend and it’s just nice to see that he survived a lot of personal turmoil, drug and alcohol issues and is still able to perform at a reasonably high level. I hope you all go out and purchase No Regrets the new Ace autobiography set to be released on November 1 and available now for pre-order at Amazon.com and other major book outlets.
Fractured Mirror into
Snowblind/I Want You/Rock Soldiers
Too Many Faces
Love Her All I Can
What’s On Your Mind/Hard Times
Flaming Youth/Into The Void
Rip It Out
Cold Gin/Black Diamond Outro
I want to thank John Ostrosky Ace’s personal assistant, Wed Kidd at Red Light Management and Marv Pritchard for their generous hospitality and friendship. Also to the staff at “The Junkyard” the club looks great and the sound was impressive. I hope to see more National Acts get booked there in the near future.
* Photo used courtesy of AceFrehley.com