ACE FREHLEY -Live at the Corporation Sheffield, U.K

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 Review and photos by Marko Syrjälä

After leaving KISS in the aftermath of THE ELDER, the ill-conceived and, at the time at least, ill-received concept album, and doing a Euro promo tour for CREATURES OF THE NIGHT -album in 1982, Ace took his time before taking the world by storm with the brilliant first FREHLEY’S COMET record. After a second studio effort by Frehley’s Comet, Ace put out another disc under his name, titled TROUBLE WALKIN. Many things have changed for Ace since the golden years of the ’80s. After some darker times in the early ’90s, Ace finally buried the hatchet with his old KISS bandmates long enough to participate in the enormously successful reunion tour in 1996, after which, in 1998, KISS released their new PSYCHO CIRCUS album. Unfortunately, the four original members’ reunion survived only long enough to record one album, but they still managed to unleash one last “farewell” tour in 2001. KISS, of course, is still touring now and then, sans Ace and Peter Criss, with stand-in players now filling their shoes.

After almost two decades, Ace Frehley is again working on a new solo record. In anticipation of the album’s upcoming release, he has decided to take his new outfit, consisting of Anthony Esposito of Lynch Mob fame on bass, drummer Scot Coogan [ex-Brides of Destruction], and the latest recruit Derrek Hawkins on the second guitar, out on the road. After a string of shows in the USA, Ace arrived in Europe for two special shows in the UK before returning to put the finishing touches on the new album and then resuming the tour once again. We caught Ace’s shows in Sheffield (and London), and we were, even with all the accumulated expectations, well pleased with what we saw. Due to some significant incident on the highway from London to Sheffield, all traffic, including Ace’s entourage, got severely delayed. This forced the band to forego sound check resulting in some chagrin on their part later on. After the openers, TIGERTAILZ had sufficiently prepared the crowd at the famed the Corporation club for the spectacle ahead, the long-expected main event finally commenced.

Looking fresh, fit, and relatively fabulous (even without his famous and by now iconic Space Man -makeup) in his beard and mirrored sunglasses, from the first notes, in front of sold out exulting crowd, the only Space Ace demonstrated just what being a sovereign archetype of a rock icon entails. Although haunted throughout the concert by trick playing amplifiers and other equipment (the beginning of “Into the Void” and “Stranger in the Strangeland” in its entirety, for example, elapsed with almost none of Ace’s guitar playing audible), such distractions were barely discernible from the audience. Likewise, the cramped quarters of the packed club did nothing to curtail the fans’ enthusiasm. If anything, Ace’s loyal supporters were thrilled to be able to witness their hero in such an intimate setting, with such an opportunity unlikely to present itself again shortly.  Ace himself seemed genuinely pleased to be back on stage in front of his legions of European fans. In between the songs and cracking jokes while introducing the songs, Ace would also recount various stories, which gave a great personal touch to the proceedings. Accompanied by a formidable stench, the amazed spectators got to enjoy Ace’s classic “smoking guitar” spectacle in all its glory. Now that’s rock and roll!

The setlist, as hard as it must have been to compile with such an abundance of material to choose from, was quite near perfect, with some more unique selections sprinkled among the bigger hits. There were no less than three tracks from the first ACE FREHLEY 1978 solo album and the same number from the exceptional FREHLEY’S COMET debut. With two more from TROUBLE WALKIN, the fans received a thorough cross-section of Ace’s solo output’s prime contents. In addition to the long-standing staples from Ace’s respectable catalog of songs, the setlist naturally featured more than a dozen KISS tunes, a couple of them in medleys. A minimum of one song was played from each Ace-era KISS studio album, from the debut through to PSYCHO CIRCUS (plus ALIVE II”). That is except for the controversial THE ELDER and, somewhat more surprisingly, DESTROYER.

Ace’s new minions, Anthony Esposito, Scot Coogan, and Derrek Hawkins, rocked just like the professionals that they are. The band brought the roof down with their energy, whether at the 500 capacity Corporation club or the multi-thousand volume Astoria. Scot Coogan, mainly taking on the role of Paul Stanley, performed lead vocals on several songs (“I Want You,” “Love Her All I Can,” “Love Gun,” and Comet classic “Breakout”), presumably to let Ace rest his voice, which by the way was in top shape as well. Messrs Esposito and Hawkins were also plenty occupied on the microphone singing background vocals to significant effect. Besides possessing great charisma and stage presence, Anthony Esposito also sang the lead vocals [done initially by Peter Criss] on “Strange Ways.” The band has been molded into a well-working entity because of all the intense touring they’ve carried out of late. Ace and his crew were tight and sounded great, which should bode well for the future, the new album, and ensuing tours.

Perhaps the only complaint the devoted “rock warriors” might raise is the total and complete absence of any merchandise. This disappointing oversight, brought on by these shows’ suddenness, we were assured would be remedied by the upcoming European dates in June. Well, we sure hope so. It could also be put forth that a playing time of “only” 90 minutes isn’t enough to cover over thirty years of great music satisfactorily, but that would be selfish, now wouldn’t it?

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Ace Frehley will be back in Europe starting from the 6’th of June at the Sweden rock festival !!!


01. Rip It Out

02. Hard Times

03. Parasite

04. Snow Blind / I Want You

05. Rock Soldiers

06. Breakout

07. Into the Void

08. Strange Ways

09. Medley

– Torpedo Girl

– Speedin’ Back to My Baby

– Five Card Stud

10. Trouble Walkin’

11. Stranger in A Strange Land

12. New York Groove

13. 2,000 Man (London only)

14. Shock Me

15. Rocket Ride

16. Deuce

17. Love Her All I Can

18. Love Gun

19. Cold Gin


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