Ace Frehley | 02.26.08

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live_ace.jpgOf course, this wouldn't be an Ace Frehley show without some of the traditional old-school touches that helped make him famous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

w/The Trews
Pop's, Sauget, Ill.

Jendell's favorite son, Ace Frehley, brought his signature brand of rock 'n' roll lightening-bolt guitar theatrics to a nearly sold-out Pop's. Fans hungry for the "Space Ace" to tear up their favorite KISS classics and solo-era tracks did not disappear into the cold winter night disappointed in the least. Frehley kicked off his "Rocket Ride" show with "Rip It Out," the first of many tracks from his 1978 self-titled solo album to grace the set list. Without taking a breath, the tight four-piece band launched right into "Hard Times," a standout track from KISS' Dynasty release, then kicked things into gear with the powerful riffing of "Parasite" from Hotter Than Hell. His band—consisting of guitarist Derrek Hawkins, bassist Anthony Esposito, and drummer Scot Coogan—deserve a lot of the credit for keeping the pace of the show energetic and tight.

Much has been made of Frehley being clean and sober for the first time in many years, and his performance was remarkably fresh as a result. Because of this, the night was not without its unexpected moments, much to the delight of the crowd. After rallying the KISS Army with a mash-up of "Snow Blind" and "I Want You," Frehley dedicated the song "Breakout" to Eric Carr, the song's co-author and KISS drummer who succumbed to cancer in 1991. A medley in the middle of the set featured the rarely heard KISS gem "Torpedo Girl," "Speeding Back to My Baby," and what appeared to be the unveiling of a brand spanking untitled new track.

Of course, this wouldn't be an Ace Frehley show without some of the traditional old-school touches that helped make him famous. "Shock Me" dovetailed into a smoking guitar solo centerpiece where smoke actually poured from the guitar. During "New York Groove," he gave a nod to the city with the "really cool arch" by changing the chorus to "St. Louis Groove"; he wrapped up the night with "Cold Gin," a song he "wrote in a subway in New York" when he was a 23-year-old starving musician. Ace Frehley may not have been wearing his platform boots at Pop's, but he certainly left a big footprint on his post-KISS comeback trail.

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Opening for a rock music icon is a thankless job for all of the obvious reasons, and some bands have a hard time being heard over the din of the headliner's fans screaming their hero's name. The Trews, however, had no trouble winning over the KISS Army with their addictive and tightly arranged tunes and a made-for-the-stage, maximum gluteus maximus-kicking guitar-and-vocal assault. The Canadian rockers are on the road promoting their latest disc, No Time for Later, and I highly suggest picking it up. Check out the song "Hold Me in Your Arms," and tell me it doesn't rip your face off in the best way possible. | Jim Ousley

Trews photo by Kevin Fischer

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