Ace Frehley wails on that gorgeous Les Paul, as he cranks out “Rip It Out.” (Photo by Tami Ashley)
By Brian M. Howle
There was a special vibe at House of Blues on Friday, May 15, as the crowded venue revved up, appropriately enough to kick off 2008 Bike Week, in anticipation of the Ace of Rock, original lead guitarist of KISS, the one and only Ace Frehely. And per Ace’s request, both opening bands played original songs during their sets, as Lucky 13 and Psychward did great jobs of prepping the crowd with high-energy, well-honed selections, and did fine jobs vocally as well. Lucky 13 bolted on stage with verbose rock ‘n’ roll, a power-quad band with stellar guitar leads and a tight rhythm section, whereas Psychward was a more laid back, progressive style, reminiscent at times of Jeff Beck, and steeped in traditional colorations.
But when the lasers broke the darkness and the countdown began, the masses cheered the loudest when Ace stepped out in all-black, wailing on that gorgeous 3-pickup Cherry Sunburst Les Paul, taking it hard right out the gate with “Rip It Out”, “Parasite” and “Snow Blind.” He playfully interacted with the crowd, interspersing intro’s with banter, then charged into “Rock Soldiers,” “Breakout,” “Shot full of Rock,” “Into the Void,” and “Strange Ways.”
Sensing his fans needed a changeup, Ace delved into a medley of “Stranger,” “NY Groove” (gotta love that sequence-flashing-neon guitar), “Shock Me,” and “Rocket Ride.” It should be noted that his 3-piece band blended well in a tight performance, with a symbiotic frenzy amongst themselves in their stage energy.
The roar from within the music hall let Ace know all was well, so he wrapped up the night with “Duce,” “Love Her,” “Love Gun” (from 12 to 72, everyone knows this one!), “Cold Gun,” and finishing out the set with “BD Tag.”
Thanks to Ace for a great show; to Carol Kaye of Kayos Productions for her gracious help, and to Jacki Giardina at HOB for her never-ending assistance in promoting these shows.
This article originally appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine May 22, 2008.