Ace Frehley / Myrtle Beach, SC / 5-16-08 Concert Review

It’s been 13 years since former KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley went out on a solo tour. What a difference time makes, and more importantly, what a difference sobriety makes. Since his last solo tour in 1995, Frehley once again donned the spaceman make up and enjoyed the incredible success of a worldwide reunion tour with his former band before egos and old demons came back. He parted ways again following KISS’ 2000 farewell tour. Despite efforts from KISS leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to get Frehley back in the band, the spaceman stuck true to the word “farewell” and has laid low until this year.

Without much fanfare, Frehley and his band of ringers simply walked out on stage and blasted through an hour and a half set that saw him hit each corner of his long career. He kicked things off with “Rip It Out,” the first track from his 1978 solo album and never looked back. The real treat to Frehley’s set was seeing him perform rare gems like “Strange Ways” and the autobiographical “Hard Times.” He dedicated “Breakout” to the late Eric Carr and thanked Paul Stanley for writing a song as great as “Love Gun.”

Despite flubbing a few licks here and there, Frehley’s playing was top notch. He played with a sense of urgency and an intensity that had been lacking during his final tenure in KISS. He nailed all of his signature solos and had the crowd chanting his name during his extended solo following “Shock Me.” While his trademark smoking Les Paul was suspiciously absent from his solo, he made up for it by simply burning up the fretboard. He displayed the chops that made him influential to a generation of future guitar heroes.

Seeing Frehley as the front man is a nice treat. His charisma and sense of humor carried the banter as he told jokes about his grandmother’s farm in North Carolina and 3-D effects of KISS’ Psycho Circus tour. He seemed to be in a fantastic mood while joking around with the crowd and his band mates. The band’s great mood fed the crowd and everyone just had an incredible time.

Following “Rocket Ride,” the band left the stage and the raucous crowd began chanting again until Frehley returned. He kicked off the encores with the first KISS song he ever played, “Deuce.” They even included the swaying “Deuce dance” towards the end of the song. Despite being sober now, the final encore was a blistering version of “Cold Gin” that included the final solo of “Black Diamond.”

While his former bandmates may be playing slowed down versions of their songs with replacement members donning the make up of originals, Frehley is playing like it’s 1975 all over again. The only difference is, his head is clear this time and he’s looking to the future. Simply put, Frehley delivers live.