KISS — Interviews, concert reviews and commentaries

by Alan K. Stout


Woodlands Show Turned Up All Aces

(Concert Review, Februrary 1995)

The Times Leader
February 25, 1995

By Alan K. Stout
Times Leader Staff Writer

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PLAINS TWP. - First off, let's just say it.

Ace Frehley could have walked on the stage, spit on the floor - and left - and the fans at his show at The Woodlands on Wednesday evening would have been delighted.

Twenty years of an affectionate artist/fan relationship will do that.

About 500 of the Frehley faithful, many clad in Frehley and KISS t-shirts, came out late on a weeknight to see the former KISS guitarist and the man who pioneered the famous guitar riffs and sound behind "The Hottest Band In The World." Demonstrating why he's considered one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in rock history, Frehley did not disappoint.

Over the years, Frehley has earned the reputation of either being "on" or being "ON."

On Wednesday, Frehley was "ON."

Opening the show with the 1974 KISS nugget "Parasite," the legion of arm- pumping, head-thrashing fans quickly began pushing closer to the stage.

While Frehley has been the most successful of all of KISS' former members - having released four albums and currently working on a fifth - he warmly embraced his grease-painted past at Wednesday's show, offering one momentum-building KISS classic after another. Although he only sang a handful of songs during his tenure with KISS - with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley handling most of the vocals - Frehley plays and sings them anyway. And why not? His extraordinary guitar work was instrumental (pun intended) in making them the classics they've become.

"Shock Me," the first song Frehley ever sang with KISS, followed his opening number and he then wound into "Snowblind" from his highly successful 1978 solo album. Frehley asked the crowd if any of them had the KISS tribute album, then quipped, "I had nothing to do with that album." Adding there were a couple of songs on the record he really liked, he launched into "She," a grinding KISS classic with riffs proving that Frehley had everything to do with the KISS tribute album.

Locked in bombastic unison, the group then stormed into "Strutter," with Richie Scarlet on vocals. The song has always been a fan favorite, as it was the first song on side one of KISS' first album, released over 20 years ago.

Frehley pulled out his famous lighted guitar for the performance of his 1978 smash "New York Groove," featuring a solo in which he went off into the stratosphere, displaying the fret board wizardry that has made him a legend.

"I wrote this back on the subways of New York when I was 23 years old," he said, introducing the perennial fan favorite "Cold Gin." Still carrying many of his famous stage mannerisms from his days with KISS, Frehley rocked his hips, shook his head, and playfully backed into his bandmates.

Frehley acknowledged he's been reading all of the recent accolades he's been receiving in magazines - where he has been cited as a major influence on many young guitarists - and expressed his appreciation.

"But when I was in high school," he said, "there was one album I always had tucked under my arm. This one's dedicated to Jimi. I know he's up there, and I know he's doing alright." He then delivered a stellar performance of Hendrix's "Foxy Lady."

The band playfully jumped into a verse of "Louie, Louie," then the guitar intro to "Stairway To Heaven." Now well after midnight, there was no question about it: Ace was having fun. The onslaught continued, with blazing performances of "Shot Full Of Rock," from 1989's "Trouble Walkin'," plus KISS gems "Shout It Out Loud" and the set-ending "Detroit Rock City."

For nearly 10 years, the rumor of a full-blown reunion of KISS' original members has circulated in the rock community, and with Frehley's loud, enthusiastic and energetic performance, he clearly proved he's ready to go.

The band returned for an encore, with Frehley feverishly performing an extended guitar solo - complete with his trademark smoking guitar. The band then forged into the KISS powerhouse cut "Deuce," a song which completely captures and typifies the energy and crunch of a band that rocked a generation. Slightly changing the arrangement of the song, Frehley added even more guitar breaks, then sailed off into a medley of classics including The Beatles' "Day Tripper," Zep's "Communication Breakdown," and Humble Pie's "I Don't Need No Doctor" before crashing back into "Deuce."

Flawless.

Guitar World magazine currently rates Ace Frehley as the fourth greatest guitarist in the world.

Fourth?

Who are these other three clowns?