Ace Frehley | 09.16.15

live frehley_smFrehley rocked and rolled for just around two hours, and he’s never sung or played better in his life.

Pop’s, Sauget, Ill.

live frehleyAce Frehley is a man who’s inspired millions and sold millions of albums. Just this year, he was inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Like his solo career, he’s also been an on-again, off-again member of the arena rock institution, KISS. Being able to see him in a smaller venue like Pop’s Saloon is an opportunity not to be missed.

After what seemed like an extraordinarily long time waiting, Frehley took the stage. (There was an unconfirmed rumor going around that he was playing video games.) In many ways, Ace Frehley is the same man he’s always been. He’s still spaced out, even though he’s stone cold sober these days.

Instead of playing a KISS song as his opener, he changed it up and played a couple tracks from his new album, Space Invader, before delving into the KISS Classics bin. Frehley has long been criticized for playing too many KISS songs during his solo shows, most notably by Peter Criss, but it’s hard to argue that point when the fans scream the loudest for his best-known works. During the first couple songs, the new ones, Frehley and Co. sounded a bit flat honestly, but when he launched into “Rocket Ride,” he put the whole crowd on his back and everyone just flipped out.

From then on, Frehley mixed in songs sung by the rest of the band: Richie Scarlett on guitar, Scott Coogan on drums, and Chris Wyse on bass. Both Wyse and Coogan, relative newcomers to Frehley’s solo career, are masterful musicians who sing as well as they play. Wyse’s bass solo will give even the most hardened fan the chills. Coogan’s vocals on “Love Gun” were enough to make me almost happy they played that song.

Frehley rocked and rolled for just around two hours, and he’s never sung or played better in his life. All of the hallmarks were there: the bad balance, the horrible technique cobbled into something great, passable rock vocals, and those accidental pinched harmonics he seems to do all the time.

They quickly ramped up after a slow start and played a fine show. After the first couple songs, the only problem was the volume. Be warned: The Ace Frehley Band is loud. By the end of the night, I was sure the kick drum was going to take my skullcap off, and I’m not even going to address having as many amps on that stage as Iron Maiden takes to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater.

With Frehley’s rapidly approaching retirement age, make sure you catch him the next time he’s in town. Let’s hope there is a next time. | Nik Cameron

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