Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ace Frehley Rocks Anaheim and Hollywood

This past Saturday and Tuesday I was able to see Ace Frehley in the Los Angeles area. First in Anaheim, about an hour from where we live, and a second time in nearby Hollywood. Both shows were at House Of Blues venues and with the great setting and sound systems made for some great shows.

First up was Anaheim. Jacki, Darian and I headed down late Saturday afternoon to get down to Anaheim before the doors opened. We had been told that they were moving the time for doors to open up an hour so we were in line shortly before 7pm. Unfortunately the doors didn't open till after 7:30 so we were a bit early.

Once inside we split up. Darian and Jacki wanted food and I headed for the front of the stage. House Of Blues are notorious for not allowing cameras but after a succesful night of pictures of Queensryche at HOB Anaheim I thought pictures at the Ace show wouldn't be a problem. Right before Ace came out Darian brought me the camera and she headed up stairs to watch the show from the balcony with Jacki.

The opening band was called The Trews. Good music, strong musicianship and a great singer. Unfortunately the songs weren't very memorable although the played one song that interpolated The Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter" which was cool.

Next up was the main event. The last time I saw Ace solo was back in 1994 in Houston, Texas. I remember the band and setlist being good but Ace not being in the best of shape. This was a completely different Ace. Sober and with a great band behind him. This performance was extremely tight and the arrangements of the KISS songs rivaled Paul Stanley's solo show a year or so back and had an energy that even KISS doesn't always hit when they perform. Seeing in arena caliber band in such a small venue always translates to a great performance.

As you can see I was able to get some great pictures from this show. All of the pictures were from Anaheim. Unfortunately about 1/3rd of the way into the show a security person made their way through the crowd and told me no pictures. I promised no more pics and kept that promise. So as a result no great pictures of the NY Groove guitar or the smokin solo, although I did take a smokin solo picture with my Helio the night of the event.

Anaheim went by so fast but I think was the better of the two performances. Highlights of the Anaheim setlist were Hard Times, Parasite and Love Her All I Can. The last song being one of my all time favorite KISS songs and not one I'd normally associate with Ace.

After the show we capped off for a late night dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and made it home around 1am.

The Hollywood show was a completely different experience. I had planned to go alone to this show but due to a new partnership I was establishing at work I was comp'd access to the House Of Blues Foundation Room and given a couple of extra tickets. Thanks to Mark and Sean. I initially thought I only had 1 extra ticket so I invited Brian, a friend from work that I knew would appreciate a night out seeing Ace. Once down to the venue we found out we had another ticket in will call so I called my good friend Dean and he was able to come down and join us.

Before the show Brian and I headed up to the Foundation Room which is a private bar on the top floor of the House Of Blues. Typically the guests are industry people, and VIPs of the sort. I think someone told me they saw the drummer for Blondie up there.

After some phone tag we were able to meet up with Dean inside the venue. We had access to an elevated set of reserved seats on the floor of HOB so after talking with the security guard, and finding our names on his list we were able to get seated.

We missed the opening act entirely in LA but didn't miss any of Ace's set. The band came out and played the same set as in Anaheim. I noticed the band wasn't as tight as in Anaheim but Ace seemed to be having much more fun. He was cracking jokes through out the night, told a couple of KISS stories and even introduced himself as Tommy Thayer as he launched into the guitar solo for Shock Me. Nothing quite like the real Ace introducing himself as fake Ace. And then during the Shock Me solo Ace burned his fingers when the guitar was smoking. He cut the solo short, blew on his fingers and told the crowd that he burned himself during the solo. A quick change of guitars and back into the set.

Shock Me and Love Her All I Can were the standouts for me in LA.

After the set I ran down to the floor and was able to get the guitar pick of the bassist. Not an Ace pick but a nice consolation. Once the venue cleared out we headed back to the Foundation Room to cap off the night. Upstairs one of Dean's friends, Ken Sharp and his wife, came over to talk to us. Ken Sharp wrote the liner notes in the KISS Box Set and wrote my favorite KISS book called Behind The Mask. It was a treat to meet him and hear some of his stories about interviewing KISS and the people around KISS. He mentioned he just finsihed a new piece in the new Goldmine magazine that covers KISS' early days on the NY club scene that I'll have to read.

As we were talking Ken mentioned that he wrote the bio for Ace's current tour and bio for Ace's new album and that he was going to go backstage to say hi. He had talked to Ace recently on the phone but hadn't seen him in nearly 7 years. After we saw Ken walk past security with no issues Dean, Brian and I followed along. Once backstage there were a small number of fans no more than 10 and a couple of industry people like Ken including one of the producers for the Detroit Rock City movie. Ken talks to Ace's management and is able to get us into Ace's dressing room for a quick meet and greet.

This was entirely unsuspected so all I had on me was a piece of paper in my back pocket and my concert ticket. No camera, no CD, nothing, but I made the best of what I had. Ace graciously took pictures, signed autographs and briefly spoke with each of us. Dean and I got our picture with Ace and hopefully the guy backstage that took the picture will email it to us soon. Ace was in a good mood, although he didn't seem too comfortable with the praise but took things in stride. I told Ace that he was the last of the original 4 from KISS I got to meet and that this was a dream come true. He said in his high pitched voice "Ok... do you want me to sign something". Very funny. He did a similar thing when Brian was taking to him. Ace signed two great autographs for me, first my ticket and then a much larger autograph on a piece of paper.

One thing worth noting is that Ace is sober on this tour. Brian happened to have a beer in hand when we walked into the dressing room and Ace's manager politely told him that alcohol was not allowed around Ace. Last time I saw Ace solo he was a bit strung out so seeing him take sobriety seriously was impressive.

I now have all of the original KISS members autographs and the only KISS autograph I'm lacking is Mark St. John, who passed away last year and was a member of KISS for only a few months. The night ended up being a strange alignment of events but I have to thank Mark and Sean for the access to the Foundation Room, Dean for introducing us to Ken and to Ken for getting us into meet Ace. This was a night I won't ever forget.

Ace Frehley
March 22, 2008
House Of Blues
Anaheim California


Ace Frehley
March 25, 2008
House Of Blues
Los Angeles California

(LA only - introduction "Transmission sequence activated")
Rip it out
Hard times
Snow blind
I Want You (partial) (Drummer Coogan on vocals)
Rock soldiers
(LA - Ace joke paraphrased. Ace said he was talking to a guy in Silicon Valley that asked Ace who used the first computer and Ace said the chinese? The guy says no Adam and Eve. Eve had the Apple and Adam had the Wang..... )
Breakout (Coogan on vocals)
Into the void
Strange Ways (Bassist Esposito on vocals)
Medley Torpedo Girl, Speeding Back To My Baby, 5 Card Stud, Trouble Walkin (Coogan vocals)
Stranger In A Strange Land
New York Groove (with back in the Anaheim and LA Groove)
(LA - Ace said, as Paul Stanley would say give yourselves a round of applause)
2000 man

(LA - Ace joke that wasn't funny. Why did god create gentiles. Somebodys gotta pay retail.)

Shock Me
(LA - Ace yelled Tommy Thayer before solo)
Guitar solo
Rocket Ride

Love Her All I Can (Coogan vocals)
Love Gun (Coogan vocals)
Cold Gin
Black Diamond (Outro)

1 comment:

Voss Family said...

Well your experience was by far much better than ours. AWESOME!!!

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