October 3, 2016 Ace Frehley Smokes Out Playstation Theater NYC 9-23-16
Famously recognized as the “Spaceman” or “Space Ace,” Bronx, New York native Ace Frehley is forever KISS royalty. While separated from the band he co-founded since 1982, the guitarist has returned to KISS a handful of times, first in 1996, and last in 2002. Now, as recent as late September of 2016, rumors began to swirl that Frehley would in fact return to KISS in 2017 one last time. Fact or fiction, a report came down from respected Metal Disc Jockey Eddie Trunk that Frehley himself has not denied he would not do it, but claims he has not heard anything yet.
That news in the corner of all fans’ mind, Frehley continues to remain extremely active with his solo band as they tour in support for his latest album, 2016’s Origins, Vol. 1. Consisting of hand-picked cover songs, it was a follow up to the acclaimed 2014 album Space Invader. Now keeping himself on the road, Frehley returned home to New York City on Friday, September 23rd, to kick off his fall tour. Last appearing in New York City in April at BB King’s Club, this time around, Frehley filled the Playstation Theater with his all-star lineup that includes former The Cult Bassist Chris Wyse, former Brides of Destruction Drummer Scot Coogan, and the “Emperor of Rock n’ Roll,” Guitarist Richie Scarlet.
As the crowd started to pile into the theater, starting up the show was Nashville, Tennessee Psychedelic Rock act Simo. Consisting of JD Simo (guitar/vocals), Elad Shapiro (bass), and Adam Abrashoff (drums), the group was formed by JD himself in 2011. Having musical ambition since the early age of five when he begged his parents to buy him his first guitar, JD dropped out of school at the age of fifteen, deciding to focus on music full-time. By the time he turned twenty-one, JD moved to Nashville, and a few years later, the band Simo was created. Ready to get the show started, the band was supporting their new album, Let Love Show The Way, released earlier in the year via Mascot Label group.
It was evident that Simo had a vibrant energy as the music poured out with a soulful vibe. Fans seemed curious and engaged as they were clearly there for the music that filled the venue with Bluesy guitar riffs and Psychedelic grooves. As the set continued to move, fans gravitated towards the final highly recognizable tune. Simo closed the set that was once a theme song for the hit TV show in the late eighties/early nineties, The Wonder Years, as they covered the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
As the venue began to pack and fans had a chance to check out the merchandise, it was time for Ace Frehley. However, The Spaceman arrived fashionably late with his blazer, sunglasses, and his infamous Les Paul guitar attire. Despite his health scare a few months ago, he looked sharp, healthy, and ready to rock as he walked onto the stage with Coogan, Wyse, and Scarlet during the recorded introduction of “Fractured Mirror.” Moving into the classic “Rip It Out,” from his 1978 solo album, Frehley performed casually and phenomenally as the riffs just left his fingertips. Meanwhile, Wyse and Scarlet moved across the stage with axes raised as the tunes continued to run with “Toys” and Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald.” Frehley mentioned how he was happy to be back as they did “some old stuff, some new stuff,” and moved into a few KISS classics such as “Parasite” and “Love Gun,” which featured Coogan on lead vocals. Inspiring fans to raise their beers, Frehley, Wyse, and Scarlet nonchalantly raised their instruments in the air together as well.
As vocals continued to echo across the venue, they moved into “Snow Blind” as the energy and rhythm continued between Frehley, Wyse, and Scarlet during 2009’s “Sister.” Having everyone’s attention, the crowd shouted out, “We love you Ace!” Mentioning how it was hot in the venue that evening, but insisting it was a good thing, Frehley then moved into the KISS classic “Rocket Ride.” It was during this tune Frehley tossed guitar picks into the audience while Scarlet reached out to as many fans as he could while he continued to perform. From here, Frehley thanked the audience as Scarlet taunted them with a few groove jams as they moved into Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home.”
Looking through the sea of fans, Frehley went on to ask, “Are there any ‘Rock Soldiers’ in the crowd?” Receiving an enormous amount of cheers, the band went into 1987’s Frehley’s Comet track “Rock Soldiers” before Wyse had a lengthy bass solo. Beginning with a bit of noodling, morphing into a few familiar tunes, Wyse did a snippet from John Carpenter’s Halloween theme. Quite an immaculate solo, Wyse soon took the microphone and sang KISS’ “Strange Ways” before Frehley switched to his fiery Les Paul, stating it meant a lot to him performing the next tune in New York City. That tune of course was “New York Groove.” Provoking more cheers and singing, shouts of “back in the New York groove!” came from the excited audience.
Keeping the entire band involved, Scarlet took the microphone and engaged with the crowd saying, “I was born in New York, raised in New York, and I hope I die in New York. This song is dedicated to Mark St. John.” From there, he sang 1989’s “2 Young 2 Die.” An emotional moment, Frehley took the microphone back to say, “There is a lot of crazy shit going on in the world.” Fans screamed in agreement as Frehley resigned to admit, “It Doesn’t ‘Shock Me'” before moving into KISS’ “Shock Me.” Here, Frehley switched to his iconic smoking Les Paul guitar as he moved into a near ten-minute solo, as smoke rolled out from his pickups. As the platform was covered in smoke, Frehley switched guitars once again and announced, “September 15th, I celebrated ten years being sober.” A wonderful accomplishment, fans cheered for Frehley before the set ironically moved into “Cold Gin.”
Appearing to the be the final song of the night, the band left the stage as everyone stayed put, despite the time going past the initial venue curfew. Frehley then casually re-entered the platform as he continued to throw more guitar picks and informed everyone, “It’s always a pleasure playing in New York City.” However, Frehley had a different city in mind as Coogan took over to sing “Detroit Rock City” before they closed the night with “Deuce.”
All around an enjoyable evening, many fans sang along to the KISS hits and Frehley’s classics while raising their hands as they shouted out to the tunes. Filled with devoted Ace Frehley and KISS fans, it was a night for Rock-n-Roll at its finest. There are a handful more dates to see Space Ace in action before the tour concludes on October 9th in Tarrytown, NY, so get out and see him and his highly talented band. Who knows, perhaps the next time fans will see Frehley, he will be on the road with KISS in 2017…never say never.