ACE IS BACK AND I TOLD YOU SO!
Date: January 19, 2017
Venue: Scout Bar
Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Reviewer: Jake Warkel
Photos: Jake Warkel Photography
The Ace Man was back ready to start his 2017 tour off in Texas at the Scout Bar. I knew I had to fly from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas to see Ace Frehley play his first show of the new year. Just before Christmas, while I was on the phone speaking with Richie Scarlet and we were wishing each other’s families Merry Christmas and Happy New Year wishes, I mentioned since they would not be coming through Chicago anytime soon, I would try and fly out to catch him on the Ace tour so what better time than the first show? This would be my fifth time seeing Ace Frehley in 2 1/2 year span with this current line-up, which is by far the best line-up Ace has performed with.
Chicago’s own Scot Coogan is a killer drummer and lead vocalist who just nails Paul Stanley’s vocals. Hell, I’ve seen Scot in years past playing with the likes of Lynch Mob, Lita Ford, and Brides of Destruction which I can never forget seeing at the Metro in Chicago which was a awesome show and a band I wish that would have lasted. The “Owl” Chris Wyse is an amazing talented bassist known for his time spent with The Cult and playing and recording with the likes of Ozzy and many other great artists. Chris is still currently involved with his own band called Owl, which is a trio where Chris handles lead vocals and bass. Then you have third time’s a charm guitarist Richie Scarlet “The Emperor of Rock and Roll” who was with Ace Frehley in the beginning of Ace’s solo career in the early ’80s, then back from 1989 to 1996, and now again from 2014 to the present day. Richie has been involved with his own solo projects and has played with the likes of many artists such as Leslie West & Corky Laing Mountain, Sebastian Bach and Chubby Checker. He even played all the guitar parts on Charlie Gracie’s song “Baby Doll” that went number one.
As I arrived in Texas the day of the show, instead of grabbing some BBQ right away, I went to meet up with Richie Scarlet at the hotel to catch up. This turned out to be a short visit since I arrived at 3:00 pm and Richie had to be at the venue Scout Bar at 4:00 pm for sound check. So we jumped in my rental car to head over for sound check. I have to say this before I move on. I feel honored to be Richie’s friend and call him a friend. He’s a great person with a big heart who just treats everyone with great respect. I’m appreciative that I had the chance to see the sound check just as I was appreciative last year at the House of Blues Chicago when I was able to hang and watch the whole show from the side of the stage. Every Ace Frehley / KISS fan would love that opportunity. Richie truly is a great man with no ego. Those who know Richie Scarlet know what I’m talking about. Thanks Richie for that…
Okay, so back to sound check. We arrived a bit early to the venue and fans were already lining up outside for a show that does not start till 8:00 pm. That’s fan dedication! Richie and Scot were catching up while waiting for the arrival of Ace and Chris. Then Chip Z’Nuff walked in as Enuff Z’Nuff started loading in their gear since they are opening for Ace Frehley on this tour. It was nice seeing Chip again since last time I saw him was at the House Of Blues Chicago this past August. Good times! Ace and Chris eventually showed up and now the guys all hit the stage for their sound check. This was the first time that they were on stage together since their last show in New York in October 2016. This sound check was more like a quick rehearsal, which was enjoyable.
Ace Frehley fans must be more than happy as Ace has made this part of Texas a regular stop the past few years. Talks of Ace rejoining KISS was chatter that you could hear from the crowd as they were awaiting for Ace Frehley to take the stage. The Scout Bar is a smaller venue which makes for a intimate show for those Ace Frehley fans that are more than happy he’s not in KISS at the moment. John Ostrosky walked up to the mic to — as you all know if you have been to an Ace Frehley show before — introduce Ace Frehley. The crowd was getting louder as John took to the stage to announce the one and only Ace Frehley.
The small venue erupted as the song “Parasite” began. That song was written by Ace Frehley and released back in 1974 when he was with KISS. “Parasite” was a great first song to open with and to get the crowd rocking. Ace seemed to have a sense of happiness being back on stage with his bandmates. You could feel the excitement as Ace and the guys were going to play a hell of a show. It did not take long for Ace Frehley, Richie Scarlet, Chris Wyse and Scot Coogan to gel once again as they fed off each other making the other one play better than the other as they went from song to song. The second song was “Toys” from the 2014 released Space Invader album and then “Rip It Out,” “Emerald” and “Love Gun” with the latter definitely being one of the crowd favorites as it always kills. “Love Gun” was released by KISS way back in 1976 and sung by Paul Stanley but on this night, it was sung by Scot Coogan whose vocals once again were more than impressive. I have no problem stating his singing is by far way better than Paul Stanley’s singing these days.
Ace Frehley playing “Parasite” at Scout Bar in Houston, Texas on January 19, 2017:
Ace Frehley’s “Rock Soldiers” was next and seemed to have everyone in the crowd possessed or something as the audience was just so involved with this song. At times, it felt like you were back in time. “Rock Soldiers” is an anti-drug song about drinking and driving, which was written after Ace’s near fatal car crash in 1983. It’s definitely a song that everyone loves. A bass solo is something you normally do not see at shows. Usually, concerts are all about drum solos and/or guitar solos. Very rarely do you see bass solos. I must admit the first time I saw Chris Wyse’s bass solo years ago, I wasn’t sure what to think as I was not accustomed to seeing bass solos but holy shit, I was like “This guy can play.” Chris is a well rounded bass player and it showed in his solo. Chris has always brought it every show and continues to do so. Props to his bass playing abilities! Now to keep complimenting Chris, his lead vocals on ‘Strange Ways” after his bass solo sounded great.
You can’t be at an Ace Frehley show without a little “New York Groove” where Ace plays his guitar that is known as the N.Y. Groove guitar. The guitar is silver which lights up and is all sparkly full of flash and actually a pretty cool guitar, which I had the privilege of playing last fall. It definitely was a highlight of my life! Richie Scarlet sung “2 Young 2 Die” from Ace‘s 1989 released Trouble Walkin’ album and Richie embodies this song. Richie put a lot of feeling and emotion in this song controlling the stage as well as anyone. After “Shock Me,” Ace performed his five plus minute guitar solo with smoke emanating from his guitar for sometime before going back to his other Les Paul. Nothing says Ace Frehley more than his guitar spewing smoke. Ace always pleases his fans with a great guitar solo and some smoke!
Now, I was sitting with Chip Z’Nuff as “Cold Gin” started. We were both complimenting the show. Chip was loving it and saying how damm good Ace and his bandmates sounded tonight, which was so true as they did sound great. That’s when I apologized for missing Chip‘s show. Enuff Z’Nuff were the opening act on this night but since I was starving from my trip earlier and had not eaten anything all day, Richie and I went to grab some Chinese food… Chip understood and wanted to let me know that Enuff Z’Nuff kicked ass tonight and sounded great. I must say that I believed him. “Cold Gin” was next, which is a song Ace wrote while on a New York subway. This song was always sung by Gene Simmons back when Ace was in KISS but since Ace went solo, he has done a great job singing this song.
The band exited the stage after tearing it up with “Cold Gin” and it was time for the encores with fans shouting chants of “Ace! Ace! Ace!” You know, the typical encore moment. Ace and the boys stepped back out onto the stage just kicking the shit out of “Detroit Rock City” and then straight into the final encore song “Deuce” showing that Richie Scarlet‘s guitar playing and energy by far kept fans involved and attentive all night. I loved how Ace and Richie complimented each other’s guitar playing. Ace and Richie play their guitars in an effortless manner with their unorthodox styles. For rock stars that have never had a lesson or let alone can’t even read sheet music, they have definitely made one hell of a career for themselves.
Ace Frehley’s Track List:
03. Rip It Out
05. Love Gun
06. Snow Blind
07. Rocket Ride
08. Bring It On Home
09. Rock Soldiers
10. Bass Solo
10. Strange Ways
11. New York Groove
12. 2 Young 2 Die
13. Shock Me
14. Cold Gin
15. Detroit Rock City
Ace Frehley playing “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce” at Scout Bar in Houston, Texas on January 19, 2017: