FREHLEY shares true ‘Origins’ @ HOB Chicago

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Since the dawn of civilization people have made pilgrimages to pay homage to their Gods and gather with the tribe. That is the feeling before, during and after an Ace Frehley concert. You’re back in the ‘New York Groove’ and in your rock & roll happy place (space) with Ace at the controls.

Such was the case a couple of weeks back when Ace made an earthly appearance at House of Blues here in Chicago. Night orbits with Ace over the years in the Chi have been bumpy rides at times (Avalon, Cubby Bear, China Club, Dome Room) but I am happy to report that Ace’s head, band, and space are in a great trajectory at present, no matter how semi-dazed & confused the captain may be from the excesses of rock & roll.

What struck me about this show is that Ace really did take a deep dive into his true ‘Origins’ by choosing to do the stuff I think he is most comfortable playing, perhaps enjoys most. It was basically a few key Frehley solo cuts, a couple covers off the newbie ‘Origins’, several non-Ace KISS tunes and then of course the core Frehley-penned KISS classics delivered with renewed zest & love. A set of KISStoric Ace ‘feel goods’.

ace_hob52016’s stellar incarnation of ‘the Ace Frehley Band’ may in fact be Ace’s best live line-up ever. The addition of rock cosmonaut Chris Wyse on bass is nothing short of an Ace masterstroke. (Great bass solo Chris!) With Wyse’s well-honed hammer, drummer Scot Coogan‘s old school pocket, guitarist Richie Scarlet‘s razor rhythm attack and Frehley running the Les Paul warp drive, the band delivered cool grooves, cosmically faithful renderings and good vibrations all the way from Jendell!

A Tip of the Chicago Firehouse hats to hometown boy Coogan for kicking ass on every level required to do Ace proud. I get the sense now several years in that Scot may be the band leader in a sense. If  he’s not, he’s certainly the a heart & soul Rock Soldier that the KISS Army  need thank for his considerable tour of duty.

ace_hob2There were some fun moments during the show too. A couple of times we caught Ace watching co-guitarist Scarlet and being amused by the ‘Emperor of Rock’s’ mega antics stage left. For one thing, Scarlet has discovered a new move in which he whips his guitar with his scarf instead of picking it LOL.. During “Rock Soldiers”, Ace noticed ironically that his “old buddy Richie” was now rocking out stage right at the perfect time for Frehley to point at Scarlet when he sang the song’s lyric “and Satan on my right” laughing after he did so. Richie also took the liberty, while visiting the ‘windy city’, of dedicating “Bad Boys Are Comings” off Trouble Walkin’ to “Mr. Alfonso Capone”.

img_4857Early in the show, like four songs in, Ace wandered back to the kit between songs and was talking to drummer Scot Coogan when people starting yelling “ACE!! ACE!! ACE!!”. Eventually Frehley returned to the mic and said calmly “hey …I didn’t go anywhere?”

img_4821For the intro to “Shock Me” Ace inquired “Who do you thinks gonna win? ….Hillary or Trump?”  He paused for comic effect and then said ‘”Who Fucking Cares!!! … nothing would SHOCK ME!!!”

At one point Ace asked us, very subdued, “Is it loud enough? …. yeah? … why not make it louder?” He then brought us all on back home, back to ’74, when he shared a revelation of sorts before going in to “Parasite”. Oh what a cool moment it was when Ace informed us that he had written the song about “this girl that used to follow KISS around from city to city” and oh to meet that girl with the ‘Parasite Eyes’.

Ace is one of the few rock icon who has never changed his true stripes or sold out. Masked, unmasked, loaded, sober or otherwise, Frehley is a ‘National Treasure’. To me Ace is the American personification of Jimmy Page meets Keith Richards. When it comes to KISStory, you can never count Ace out, no matter what hand he’s holding.

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KISS Milwaukee Magical Mystery Tour

A splendid time was guaranteed for all …always has been KISSs charge: to deliver the ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ and bang for the buck, even when it wasn’t in the budget you know?

Step right up to KISS’s ongoing 40-year, often magical mystery tour of mother earth, circa 2016. Yes,  roll up for the Freedom To Rock Tour, it’s an invitation.  KISS are a visual treat but they have now also become, like it or not, a downright heartwarming rock & roll celebration and they gave a lot of renewed love to the presentation of this show, on every level.

Beyond the amazing lighting, lasers, screen graphics, smoke & bombs, it was the best sound I have ever heard at an in-door KISS show, but we were directly next to the sound board (on purpose).  They were not as loud as usual, and that worked as far as I’m concerned. Everything was distinct, damn right warm in fact. It was a rich sound.

A quick, but needed, tip of the Firehouse hat to MVP Tommy Thayer for having now settled in so nicely in to his Spaceman boots. I thought he really brought more of his own feel than ever before to the signature Ace solos and let it all hang out for the majesty of rock. His tone, timing and vibe were really nice and, along with Eric Singer, the two have become the bedrock of KISS in ways that Ace & Peter once were. To me, after last night, they are KISS, not impostors as once feared. I guess I’m back in the New York Groove after all?

Anyway, I’m still digesting some of the cool new wrinkles and the many magic KISStoric moments from last nights show but here are some pix from The Bradley Center in Milwaukee !

The amplifiers start to hum …the carnival has just begun …you’re in the Psycho Circus!

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KMIL_showbizKMIL_mellowyellow KMIL_creatures KMIL_bluedemon KMIL_army KIML_lovegun KMIL_smoke

KMIL_starchildKMIL_smashing

 

KISStorian podcast #1 w/ PHAT KISS

PhatKissMy first podcast is with Jon Baumann (aka Stan Pauley) of Chicago’s PHAT KISS to talk amps, ramps, tramps, inception and food, now live on SPREAKER!  Join the Phat fray with Stan and the lads! PHAT KISS on Facebook IMG_3845

ACE FREHLEY, back in the high life again

ACEhilifeCongrats to Ace Frehley for topping the Billboard Charts and keen KISStoric timing on the release of the fun, if semi-slapdash,  Origins; Vol. 1.

Check me on this —-am I losing my f####### mind?? I get so much guff from my band mates in Waiting For Henry (playing the Mercury Lounge in NYC Saturday, June 4th)  for being a KISS fan and trying to sneak in Ace riffs in an Alt-Americana band.  Anyway …we went as a band to see Sturgill Simpson at the Beacon a few months back. It was my first time at The Beacon as I am from Chicago.  To connect a dot here, one of my favorite Ace boots is the ‘Just For Fun Tour’ show at the Beacon in ’92 because so many cool disasters happen for Ace and yet he over comes all with great reckless aplomb. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen color footage of Ace without makeup.

So I digress … sorry ….today, a random Google search here on Mothers Day and …BOOM!!! major wack ACE ANOMALY  …Sturgill Simpson & Ace in one place? Check it @ Billboard

I wanna say something else here, people… a fucking heartfelt tip on the Firehouse hat to Paul Stanley for giving Ace the long over due KISS bump to push this “over the cliff” as Nigel from Spinal Tap would say. A few months ago I was gonna write an angry rant about how it annoys me that KISS don’t give any pub to Ace happenings etc. and I’m real glad I bit my KISS tongue.  In light of the press spats that dominated  KISS‘s ‘Rock Hall’ induction  this is a KISStorically refreshing decision by Paul — not only does he sing on ‘Fire & Water” but then does a video with Ace??!!! …it IS enough to a make a poor man cry.

 

SPACE ACE Cake(s)

AceCakeHow does a KISStorian feel on the eve of the release of a new Ace Frehley album? …like it’s their Birthday all over again!! Please go out and buy ‘Origins Vol. 1’ tomorrow. While you are at it, go ahead and tell your 5 coolest friends to buy it and please refuse to share MP3 of the record with anyone! It’s no longer cool; word. Otherwise? …relinquish your Rock Soldiers Fan Club button you will.

IMG_0790There certainly is something about this chocolate cake nod to Dynasty era Ace; it had light blue internal frosting as well as I recall and the big reveal (first cut was the deepest) was greeted with ooohs and aaaahhhh’s all around. Exhibit B is another singular Ace creation though this one is KISS co-branded, a wishful cake of sorts, dreamy. Turns out Space case Frehley takes the Ace space cake(s)!

SONIC MONSTER a rock & roll party!

kissWhat a life it is KISStorians to have time free on a Saturday afternoon to contemplate the finer things in life, like combining KISS’s Sonic Boom & Monster discs into arguable one of the best KISS albums of all time, a playlist I refer to as ‘Sonic Monster’. Try this at home and get it the car stereo pronto hombre because listen up, and listen good … Sonic Boom and Monster are pretty damn good rock & roll records so, yeah, old school gripes aside people, a tip of the proverbial ‘Firehouse’ helmets to Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer for manning the barricades …all for the glory of the KISS Army. This would be a cool KISS delux release remixed by a special guest like Phil Spector (via web)  or Bob ‘The Elder’ Ezrin himself? Maybe the boys would have fun turning it in to a live album with Eddie Kramer? 🙂 Don’t be afraid to dream.

SONIC MONSTER(2016) Modern Day Delilah – Wall Of Sound  – Outta This World – I’m An Animal – Say Yeah – Hell Or Hallelujah – Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect) – Shout Mercy – When Lightning Strikes – Long Way Down – Danger Us – Stand – All For The Love Of Rock & Roll – Back To The Stone Age  – Last Chance