Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ace Frehley in Toronto ("Rocket ride" tour) - Report

CanadaAce is back! It was a spectacular night at The Guvernment in Toronto, in which I got to see the best Ace I could have imagined. Doors opened with a little delay (22 minutes), which allowed us to have more time to appreciate the beautiful winter weather, but the show started on time. The opening band ("The Ending") was very good; they started their show at 8:03 and played until past 8:30. It was a great opening act that the crowd enjoy (the place was virtually sold out).

The crew removed all the equipment and re-built the stage in record time; the explosion came at 9:00 PM sharp (Ace is even punctual now!), when the band started off with a demolishing version of "Rip it out", followed by "Hard times" and then "Parasite". There were no breaks in between songs.

By that moment it was already obvious that the band was really good. Anthony Esposito (bass), Scot Coogan (drums), and Derrek Hawkins (rhythmic guitar) are younger, but they play with a presence and accuracy that made them a perfect complement for an inspired Ace. "Hard times" sounds fantastically live! I was surprised that Ace didn't use his famous red and yellow Gibson Les Paul, but a different model (same colours though); the funny thing is that the guitar player of the opening band did!

A fraction of "Hard times". Watch it, it's loud!

Ace took a little break to say hello and then spoke about the big ice and snow storm we had yesterday. What better excuse to play "Snowblind"! The end of that song made way for a section of "I want you" that was sung by Coogan, until the drum base chanced to the familiar rhythm that preceded "Rock Soldiers". Ace made the people sing on this one, turning the microphone our way. Meanwhile, Derrek Hawkins spent his time waving and pointing at us. I was in the first row, and I don't know how many times we shook hands or 'high fived' at the end of a song. He gave me two of his guitar picks.

"Breakout" was dedicated to the memory of Eric Carr, and it was Scot Coogan who took care of the singing once again; this piece was followed by "Shot full of rock", which in turn made way for "Into the void". Ace said something like "This song speaks about falling into a deep, dark hole... and then finding your way out. Somehow, we (I) always find the way out".


"Strange ways" was sung by Anthony Esposito, and then came the most celebrated segment of the show so far: the medley that included "Torpedo Girl", "Speedin' back to my baby" and "Five card stud". Without a doubt, "Speedin'..." was the crowd's favourite song of the evening.

"Trouble Walkin'" was followed by "Stranger in a strange land", and then it was time for Ace to switch guitars for ""New York / Toronto Groove"! Ace came to play to where I was and I ended having that guitar 10 cm away from my face. And I touched it, of course. The guitar had a few tuning problems and I could see Ace frowning as he was playing the closing riff! Oh, and you can tell it's heavy!

"NYG" was the beginning of the party. "Shock me" brought Ace's famous solo. Impeccable, it had all those mini-melodies that you would expect to hear in his solos; like everything else last night, it was perfectly nailed by Ace. I could take a couple of pictures while the guitar was burning! Yes, there was a little fire after the smoke...

05-03-08_2213 05-03-08_2214
Ace during his 'smoking' solo

The last song of the set was "Rocket ride", which sounded great live, and where Ace played a solo that was longer than usual. Ace thanked everybody and the band left, only to come back five minutes later to play an encore set that blew many heads away (once again, all the songs were linked together):
  • "Deuce": Sung by Ace, it included the sway between Esposito, Ace and Hawkins towards the end of the song.
  • "Love her all I can": Excellent! Sung by Esposito and Coogan, while Ace and Hawkins just played. This song sounds great live!
  • "Love Gun": Coogan sung this one and he did a good job! Ace's solo and Hawkins 'shooting' at us with his guitar while he was playing the riff were the highlights.
By the end, Ace announced that he was going to end the show singing "a song that I wrote about 35 years ago while riding the subway in New York": "Cold gin"! Ace played and sung it majestically; Derrek Hawkins had to switch guitars towards the end because he broke a string, but he still had time to make it to the "Black Diamond" outro that put an end to the show.

My notes:
  • Ace, excellent. Better than ever. Maybe more concentrated on his playing than the singing, he would sometimes be a tiny bit late to come back to the mic, but he had an impeccable night. The best Ace I've ever seen or heard live.
  • The band, very well adjusted. They sound fantastically, and you can tell they enjoy being on stage with Ace. All three of them stayed talking to us outside for almost an hour (it was -6C!) while they were waiting for Ace. They posed for pictures and they signed whatever they put in front of them. Great guys.
  • Anthony Esposito told me that they were very tired, because they had played in Quebec City the previous night and they had another show in Michigan tonight. He told me that the bus started to slip on the 401 on their way to Toronto and they got really scared!
  • Ace only drunk water and energizing drinks ("Rock Star"). Hawkins told me that he can't be around anybody who drinks, and that if anybody approaches him with a beer he pretty much runs away. Ace has been 100% sober for almost two years, and of course, said that he understands Gene more ("but to some extent").
  • Organization, punctuality and attention, "A+". Ace's assistant even gave me a bottle of water for me to drink during the concert!
  • After the show, I got the chance to hug Ace and I told him that I had seen him in Argentina back in '99. Ace gave me a ring he had in his hand, and I first thought that it was his, but then realized that he had found it, so I gave it back to the guy who was looking for it, who could not believe that Ace had picked it up.
Me and Derrek Hawkins outside of the club

My ears are shot. I can't hear a thing and I have a buzzing sound that is perforating my ear drums since last night. I'm tired, because I stood for more than five hours (remember that I'm not exactly skinny and I had hip surgery) and I had to drive 1.5 hours to get back home, where I arrived at 2 in the morning.

Oh, yes, it was totally worth it.

ArgentinaAce está de vuelta! Fue una noche espectacular en The Guvernment en Toronto, en la que vi al mejor Ace que me haya podido imaginar. Las puertas se abrieron con un poco de demora (22 minutos), lo que hizo que quienes estábamos afuera tuviésemos más tiempo para apreciar el hermoso clima de invierno, pero el show empezó puntualmente. La banda soporte ("The Ending") era muy buena; ellos comenzaron su show a las 8:03, y tocaron sin pausas hasta pasadas las 8:30. Fue un excelente número de apertura que la gente (casi un lleno total) disfrutó.

Los 'plomos' cambiaron todo el equipo y re-armaron el escenario en tiempo record, y la explosión llegó a las 9:00 PM en punto (Ace hasta es puntual ahora!), cuando la banda arrancó con una versión demoledora de "Rip it out", enganchada sin pausas con "Hart Times" y luego "Parasite".

Para este momento ya era obvio que la banda era muy buena. Anthony Esposito (bajo), Scot Coogan (batería), y Derrek Hawkins (guitarra rítmica) son mas jóvenes, pero tocan con un aplomo y justeza que los hace un complemento perfecto para un Ace que estuvo inspiradísimo. "Hard times" suena espectacular en vivo! Me sorprendió que Ace no usara su famosa Gibson Les Paul amarilla y roja sino un modelo diferente (con los mismos colores); lo curioso es que el guitarrista de la banda soporte sí lo hizo!

Ace se tomó un pequeño break para saludar al público, y habló de la gran tormenta de nieve que tuvimos ayer. Qué mejor excusa que esa para arrancar con "Snowblind". El final de la canción dio paso a "I want you", con Coogan poniendo la voz, hasta que la base de batería cambia a un redoble conocido que da paso a "Rock Soldiers". Aquí Ace hizo cantar al público con el. Mientras tanto, Derrek Hawkins se pasaba el tiempo saludando y haciéndoles morisquetas a quienes estábamos cerca. Yo estaba en primera fila, y no sé cuántas veces me dió la mano o 'chocamos los cinco'. Además, me regaló dos púas.

Ace in the front, Anthony Esposito in the back

"Breakout" fue dedicada a la memoria de Eric Carr, y otra vez fue Scot Coogan quien cantó; a esta canción le siguieron "Shot full of rock", que a su vez fue enganchada con "Into the void". Ace dijo algo así como "Esta canción habla acerca de caer en un gran agujero negro...y luego buscar la manera de salir. Y de alguna forma, uno siempre sale".

"Strange ways" fue cantada por Anthony Esposito, y luego vino lo que fue tal vez la parte más celebrada de la noche hasta ese momento: el medley que incluyó "Torpedo Girl", "Speedin' back to my baby" y "Five card stud". Sin dudas, "Speedin'..." fue la favorita del público.

A "Trouble Walkin'" le siguió "Stranger in a strange land" (otra vez cantada por Coogan) y luego vino el momento de cambiar guitarras para New York / Toronto Groove! Ace se acercó a tocar a donde yo estaba y tuve esa guitarra a 10 cm de mi cara. Y sí, la toqué! Esa guitarra estaba un poquito desafinada, Ace puso una cara de disgusto al escuchar como le salía el riff final. Ah, y se nota que pesa mucho!

NYG fue el comienzo de la fiesta. Llegó "Shock me" y con ella el famoso solo de Ace. Impecable, tuvo todas las mini-melodías que uno esta acostumbrado a escuchar en sus solos, y como en toda la noche, fue excelentemente interpretado. Pude sacar un par de fotos con la guitarra en llamas! Sí, después del humo hubo fuego...

La última canción del set fue "Rocket ride" que sonó impresionantemente en vivo, y en la que Ace tocó un solo más largo de lo acostumbrado. Ace agradeció y la banda se retiró, solo para volver a los cinco minutos para ejecutar un set de bises que le volaron la cabeza a muchos (nuevamente, todas las canciones enganchadas):
  • "Deuce": Cantada fantásticamente por Ace, y que incluyó el 'bailecito' entre Esposito, Ace y Hawkins al final.
  • "Love her all I can": Excelente! Cantada por Esposito y Coogan, mientras Ace y Hawkins se dedicaron sólo a tocar. Esta canción suena muy bien en vivo!.
  • "Love Gun": Coogan la cantó y muy bien! El solo de Ace y Hawkins 'disparando' con su guitarra mientras hacía el riff fueron los puntos salientes.
Sobre el final, Ace anunció que iba a cerrar el show con 'una canción que compuse hace unos 35 años mientras estaba en un subte en New York": "Cold gin"!. Ace tocó y cantó en forma magistral; Derrek Hawkins tuvo que cambiar guitarras justo al final porque rompió una cuerda, pero llegó justito para enganchar con el outro de "Black Diamond" que puso el final al show.

Ace and Derrek Hawkins playing "Hard times"

Mis notas:
  • Ace, excelente. Mejor que nunca. Tal vez más concentrado en tocar que en cantar, a veces llegaba tarde al micrófono, pero un trabajo impecable. El mejor Ace que he visto u oído en vivo en mi vida.
  • La banda, muy ajustada. Suenan fantásticamente, y se les nota que disfrutan estar con Ace ahí. Los tres se quedaron charlando con nosotros por casi una hora afuera del club (hacia -6C!) mientras esperaban a Ace. Se sacaron fotos, firmaron todo lo que les dieron, unos genios.
  • Anthony Esposito me contó que estaban muy cansados, porque habían tocado en Quebec la noche anterior, y hoy tenían otro show en Michigan. Me dijo que viniendo a Toronto el bus empezó a patinar en la 401 y se agarraron flor de susto!
  • Ace tomó sólo agua y bebidas energizante ("Rock Star"). Hawkins me dijo que no puede estar cerca de nadie que beba, y que si alguien se le acerca con una cerveza sale casi corriendo. Ace lleva casi dos años completamente sobrio, y por supuesto, dijo que ahora lo entiende más a Gene ("hasta cierto punto").
  • La organización, puntualidad y atención, 10 puntos. El asistente de Ace hasta me dio una botella de agua para que yo tomara!
Al final del show, pude estrechar en un abrazo a Ace y hasta le conté que lo había visto en Argentina en el '99. Ace me dio un anillo que tenía en su mano que yo al principio pensé que era de él, pero luego me di cuenta de que lo había encontrado ahí y se lo devolví al pibe que lo estaba buscando, que no podía creer que Ace lo había levantado.

Mis oidos estan totalmente reventados. No escucho absolutamente nada y tengo un zumbido que me está taladrando los tímpanos desde anoche. Estoy cansado, porque estuve parado por más de 5 horas (recuerden que no soy justamente una sílfide y tuve una operación de cadera) y luego tuve que manejar 1.5 horas para volver a casa, adonde llegué a las 2AM.

Sí, claro que valió la pena.


  1. At first I was like, who are they...then I googled them...and boom, yes, I've listened to Ace's song many times...and I enjoyed them... Looks like you're having real fun! Nice to hear you've enjoyed it much! ;)

  2. OMFG!!!!

    Gaby... ¿cómo explicarlo? Me acabás de provocar el deseo irrefrenable de escuchar a Ace, una y otra vez...

    Me alegra TANTO que lo hayas disfrutado, y tu crónica (en inglés, por alguna razón totalmente pueril no puedo leer en Español, soy una idiota!) me emocionó como si hubiera sido yo la que estuvo...

    Sí, yo también me hubiera emocionado con "Speedin' back to my baby". Es mi favorita. El riff es... perfecto.
    En fin...

    Millones de besos y abrazos para vos y la familia!

  3. Espectacular relato de tu vivencia, Gaby...
    Que barbaro estar ahi...

  4. Mariposa, it was lot of fun, something I had been wishing to do for ages. Ace Frehley is my favourite artist ever, and having been to this concert, being able to see him up close and even hug him... you could say I touched the sky with my hands.

    Mafi, que alegría tenerte de nuevo por acá. La verdad es que lo de anoche fue inolvidable. Me sentía un pibe de 15 años, quedándome afuera por una hora y media para ver si lo veía a Ace de nuevo al salir del club...hasta que mi verdadera edad me aconsejó que me fuera a buscar el auto...

    Mike, gracias por el comentario. Para mí, lo de anoche fue un sueño hecho realidad, una de las mejores vivencias que haya tenido (fuera de mi flia, por supuesto).

  5. Mi esposo fue al concierto anoche, y como tu, regreso babeado. Y ahora esta bebiendose las fotos y video, gracias por compartirlas, mi esposo está super contento.

  6. Kuanyin, como decíamos en tu blog, ya haremos planes cuando Kiss venga a Canadá! :-)

  7. Gabriel,

    I saw your entry on the Space Ace site which led me here. You and I are only a couple years apart in age, I have been listening to Kiss/Ace since the 70's. I, too, saw Ace once already in Atlanta, GA on this tour going presently. I can understand your excitement as the sound was raw and loud while the set list was blistering. I Want You and Love Her All I can were both surprises. Parasite and Strange Ways saw the corners of my mouth quickly rising. I will be making another trip to see Ace in Myrtle Beach, SC come May. Are you saying you got to hug Ace when he was coming off stage while still in the venue or later outside where you had waited with the other band members ? I waited for awhile in hopes of getting my Alive LP cover signed but was not so fortunate.


  8. Gabriel,

    I saw your entry on the Space Ace site which led me here. You and I are only a couple years apart in age, I have been listening to Kiss/Ace since the 70's. I, too, saw Ace once already in Atlanta, GA on this tour going presently. I can understand your excitement as the sound was raw and loud while the set list was blistering. I Want You and Love Her All I can were both surprises. Parasite and Strange Ways saw the corners of my mouth quickly rising. I will be making another trip to see Ace in Myrtle Beach, SC come May. Are you saying you got to hug Ace when he was coming off stage while still in the venue or later outside where you had waited with the other band members ? I waited for awhile in hopes of getting my Alive LP cover signed but was not so fortunate.


  9. Robert, I got to hug both Ace and Derrek Hawkins as they were leaving the stage. Then I waited outside for an hour, hanging out with the other three guys in the band, but it was too cold and I needed to go home, so I didn't wait for Ace that time.

  10. Gabriel, Thanks for your brief but adequate answer. In the case that my being forthright and inquisitive offended you that was not my intention most assuredly.

  11. Robert, no problem at all, why would I take offense?

    I know other people got to talk and probably hug Ace on his way out of the building; I just couldn't wait that long, it was late and I needed to go back home, unfortunately.

  12. Great review! I was at the show too and your comments were bang on! My ears were ringing for 3 days...saw Kiss (the original Kiss) 6 times and Ace was better this show than I've ever seen him! I have 4 videos of the show on You Tube including Love Gun, Snow Blind and his solo at if you want to reminisce :-)


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