Article and Photos by: Steven Principato
New York City, NY — On a typically congested Friday night, directly in the nexus of all which that is NYC tourism, a rock and roll legend prepared to take the stage at Playstation theater. Long established and revered for his epic and often turbulent tenure with rock and roll legends and hall of famers KISS, Ace Frehley has defiantly maintained his own solo act since his initial departure from his original band over 3 decades ago. Currently on tour with Nashville based trio Simo, who are relentlessly soulful blues act with an endless arsenal of face melting guitar solos and infectious blues licks. Both Simo and Ace Frehley appeared nothing less than prepared to uphold the spirit of rock and roll on this extraordinary night in NYC.
Opening the show was the three piece retro-aficionado blues act, Simo. As an act named for the band’s frontman, guitarist / vocalist J.D. Simo, this rather powerful trio found no hardship as they belted out a consistent parade of highly infectious retro-rock tracks that vastly exceeded one’s expectations of a typical opening act. Wrapping up the show with a chillingly accurate version of Joe Cocker’s masterful rendition of Ringo Starr’s (exceedingly less soulful) ”With a Little Help From My Friends”, Simo left no one in the packed house dissatisfied before the headlining act.
Taking the stage perhaps hours earlier than the legendary Space Ace was accustomed to in his younger unpredictable days, Ace Frehley, now accompanied by veteran and highly talented rockers by the likes of Richie Scarlet on guitar, Chris Wyse on bass, and Scot Coogan on drums and vocals, Ace left little to chance in his never ending journey through space. Kicking off the set with his own “Rip it Out”, Ace effortlessly had the crowd going berserk while solidifying the fact that fans respect Ace for far more than just his “make up” KISS days. Easily the most talented member of his former legendary band, who also by chance boasts the highest selling KISS solo album (despite what Gene SImmons Claims), Ace had little trouble cultivating and maintaining a loyal fanbase of his own, despite his personal issues with Simmons, not that his fans really care. Meanwhile at the show as Ace and crew continued to electrify the Playstation theater with not just the obligatory KISS covers, (which was about 80 percent of the setlist to no fans disdain) but with a number of iconic tracks by a few other rock legends. Rock anthems such as Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” and WIllie Dixon’s “Bring it on Home” were bracketed among our favorite KISS numbers including “Shock Me”, a tongue and cheek number inspired by Ace’s actual on stage near-fatal brush with electricity, “Love Gun” and “Rocket Ride” two songs about….well, you know. Naturally giving the crowd the cover track made famous by Ace in the first place, and being back in his own hometown and all, the softer edged “Back in the New York Groove” was proven solid as a NYC anthem, 30 years after its recording. Closing the show with a track long associated with his trash talking former bandmate, Ace Frehley as always, performed “Cold Gin” – a track originally written for Ace. Performed by Ace as it was originally intended, the show ended with the energy one would expect from everyone’s true favorite KISS member.
With an encore performance of yet more KISS anthems, Ace Frehley wrapped up a commanding performance of amazing music. Though heavy in tracks from his former band, many agree that Ace Frehley deserves these classics as much as their original authors, principally based on the fact that Frehley can still bring these gems to smaller more accessible venues, preserving the true rock and roll as was intended, rather than experiencing the music from the stratospheric altitudes of the worst seats in a sports arena.