Ace Frehley & Enuff Z’Nuff Tear Through Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 1-27-17

Ace Frehley & Enuff Z’Nuff Tear Through Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 1-27-17

There are diehard Rock-n-Roll fans that will show up anywhere at anytime to support their favorite bands. That in mind, veteran Rockers such as Ace Frehley, often referred to by beloved KISS followers as “Spaceman” or “Space Ace,” continues to bring his unique guitar stylings to the stage all these years later. Complete with an extremely solid lineup behind him, Frehley has been on the road quite a bit in recent years and, showing no signs of letting up, they continue to tour into 2017 supporting last year’s covers record, Origins, Vol. 1.

Keeping matters from becoming stale, the latest run of shows see Frehley and band team up with a rejuvenated Enuff Z’nuff, who are coming off the release of their brand new 2016 album, Clown Lounge. Complete with dates running through Texas across to the west coast, along the way, the bands made a visit to Arizona for a two night stay. Beginning their time in the desert on January 26th in Tucson, Friday the 27th found them at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre. Marking Frehley’s first return to the venue since March 2nd of 2016, excitement was high with attendees hoping to be heated up from the chilly winter night.

Most shows at the Marquee Theatre, located close to the Arizona State University in downtown Tempe, bring in local bands to give them a spotlight as openers for major label bands. A great chance for these bands to gain some exposure, on this night, Color of Chaos, Tricus, and Mill’s End, also were given the chance to support Rock-n-Roll legends. All three bands have established a fanbase in the Phoenix market and each one brought their own unique brand of Rock to the table.

Mill’s End, a well-known local favorite, have a sound related well to what could be called “dude rock.” A shake of REM, with a splash of Wilco, might be the best way to describe them. Joining the local stage next was Color of Chaos before Tricus. Both Phoenix, Arizona based, they entice their followers quite often opening for other major acts, and circulating their brand of harder Rock all over Arizona venue locations. Color of Chaos certainly brings more of a Judas Priest illusion down with a mix of old Aerosmith style, while Tricus focuses more on that delivery of hardcore Rock.

Anxious for the headliners to begin, a large crowd could be heard loudly chirping prior to Blue Island, Illinois-born Enuff Z’Nuff’s arriving on stage. The band’s first visit to the state of Arizona in nearly fifteen years, there were some heavy duty hitters out in the audience pumped up for the return.

A journey that began back in 1989, Enuff Z’Nuff is a band that has seen highs and lows. With over 30 years of performing, making music, and touring, co-founding Bassist Chip Z’Nuff has kept the dream alive. Currently comprised of Chip on lead vocals/bass, former Ultravox member Tony Fennell on guitar/vocals, former The Black Mollys member Tory Stoffregen on guitar/vocals, and Erik Donner on drums/vocals, this is a tight mix of musicians yearning to Rock-n-Roll.

As the lights went dim and Chip made his entrance, the moments between 15 years ago and January 27th all seem to dissipate in the blink of an eye. Wearing a sparkly cap, round pink-rimmed sunglasses, a 1980s military style cut jacket with doodads hanging from each side, and high platform chunky heeled glitzy shoes, there was an overwhelming feeling of excitement in the room.

Opening with “Baby Loves You,” from the 1991 album Strength, the crowd immediately began singing right along with Chip. Energized by the audience’s response, Chip and company were not about to let the night pass quickly as they moved into favorites such as “Kiss the Clown,” “In the Groove,” and “Heaven or Hell.”

Not to be overlooked, they also offered “New Thing” and their well-known hit,”Fly High Michelle.” The highlight of their set was their tenaciously delicious rendition of David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie.” 

As their set came to its conclusion, Chip thanked everyone for coming out to support the band and being part of their history. Delighted and humbled by the experience, he invited anyone who wanted to come quickly to their merchandise table at the front of the venue for a meet and greet. A band that has seen it all, they translated a passion and energy that was nothing short of spectacular.

The clock ticked on as the middle aged crowd mingled awaiting Frehley’s set. With the major portion of Frehley’s equipment already been put in place, but as always, there were last minute sound tweaks, as well as instrument and monitor shuffles, to be made. Not intrusive to the mood, it gave the audience a thirty-five-minute parlay to let loose, have a drink, and enjoy their night out.

After the intermission, the house lights went down as roars came from the crowd with the stage slowly faded back up into a purple cloudy light. From here, Guitarist Richie Scarlet strode across the stage with his arms in an open wide gesture to welcome the thundering accolades given from the crowd. Kicking off the beat, Frehley’s drummer, Scot Coogan, hit the first strike on his drum and the Frehley set lit up with the KISS tune “Parasite.”

Mixing it up, and keeping everyone on their toes, a set mostly dressed with KISS cuts, there were also a few covers, and of course a few of Frehley’s solo pieces. That in mind, the show moved along at a generous pace as they followed with 2014’s “Toys.”

Connecting with the audience, each and every beat, melody, chord as well as riff ignited a positive reaction. From KISS songs such as “Rip It Out,” t0 “Love Gun,” to Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald,” and Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home,” there was little downtime. As for the cover songs offered, both seemed to mean something special to the band as they played through with a ton of enthusiasm.

Egging on more cheering, at about the three-forth mark, Frehley played two of his own hits, including the signature “New York Groove,” the anthem resounds of “Rock Soldiers,” and “2 Young 2 Die.” In between the latter two songs, former The Cult Bassist Chris Wyse performed his own solo to a roar of appreciation. Wyse’s solo was an epic piece of work, structured perfectly as he let his bass talk for him. Just one of the talented musicians Frehley has joined up with, long-time friend, and well-known guitarist in his own right, Scarlet, played the whole stage. Having a good time, he fed off the crowd and showed that he is the epitome of a Rock-n-Roll guitarist.

With the set winding down, on KISS’ “Cold Gin,” Frehley handled it with the swag it deserves. A climactic crescendo of Rock, the majority of the room sang along until the final note while Frehley sent sparks through the air via his guitar picks. A classic moment, as it all came to a boil, Scarlet held his guitar high into the air, bowed, as he, Frehley, and company exited the stage into the darkness. Assuring this was not the end, after a five minute breather, the band returned with KISS beloved hits “Rock Detroit City” and “Deuce,” finishing off the night with a bang.

As always, Frehley did not disappoint his fans. Gifting a total of 8 KISS tunes, among many others, he and his band left Tempe Rock lovers soaring high. The current tour concludes on February 11th up in Seattle, Washington, but soon after, they will be heating up South America and Mexico in March. Tireless and possessing a desire to rock, Ace Frehley will more likely be making the rounds across the USA again very soon.

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Song River
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Song River has over thirty years combined experience in photography and writing, from music to politics and everything in between. She is the owner of CowGirlZen Entertainment, a registered business that focuses on photography for both musicians and families, and also offers PR/social marketing/bios/press. Currently a photojournalist for several music magazines and a publicist/A&R for High Road Publicity. In her downtime, you might find her helping the homeless, volunteering to aid the elderly, hiking in the desert mountains, taking care of her family, cooking new dishes, gardening, beach combing, amateur astronomy, and traveling with her Nikon by her side at all times.

  • Jeannie Blue
    Posted at 01:12h, 04 February Reply

    Forgive me silly comment on a great article, but . . . Is it just me or is Chip Z’Nuff turning into Yoko Ono?

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