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Gig Review: Ace Frehley + supports, Melbourne

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Ace Frehley + Graveyard Rockstars + Witchgrinder
The Forum, Melbourne
2 May 2015
Photos by Sofie Marsden

The iconic rock n roll spaceman himself, Ace Frehley, descended upon Melbourne in support of his latest album, ‘Space Invader’, and it was damn well worth the wait. While KISS may still be playing stadiums and impressing everyone with pyrotechnics and raising drum risers, Ace is out there with no gimmicks, no bullshit, playing straight up rock ‘n’ roll.

Opening the show was none other than local industrial heroes, Witchgrinder, and let’s face it, opening for any legendary act is hard no matter who you are. And while the KISS Army didn’t seem to fully embrace the quartet’s heavy groove-laden metal, Witchgrinder still delivered everything they had. Blasting through songs with high energy and truckloads of riffage, frontman Travis Everett didn’t stop for a second as he ran around owning the stage armed with a Flying V and one hell of a voice. By the time their set was coming to a close, they had managed to turn people around and have them rocking along. Well played!

Dressed in white face paint and looking like the dead from the movie Carnival Of Souls, Sydney horror rockers, Graveyard Rockstars, unfortunately seemed to fall kind of flat with the Melbourne audience. They trudged along though and managed to get a few heads rocking but I feel that the crowd were kind of disinterested and were just itching for the Spaceman to make his appearance.

Once the legend that is Ace Frehley made his entrance, the crowd erupted into admiration and applause. Getting straight down to business with ‘Rocket Ride’, things seemed a little off to begin with but the crowd didn’t care. Everyone was ready to party and Frehley and Co. brought the night’s entertainment. ‘Gimme A Feelin’ followed and things were really happening and the Spaceman sounded great. His guitar tone, his backing band and his voice were firing on all cylinders and it was awesome.

Things did go a little astray during the newer song ‘Toys’ but they made up with it by smashing out a whole slew of KISS classics including ‘Love Gun’, ‘Strutter’, ‘Parasite’ and ‘Shock Me’. Solo efforts like the modest ‘Space Invader’, the brilliant ‘Snowblind’ and the Frehley’s Comet call to arms of ‘Rock Soldiers’ were welcomed and they sounded huge. It was no surprise to see New York Groove receive its thunderous applause as the song is as synonymous with Ace as is his guitar with flashing lights. His renditions of ‘King Of The Night Time World’ and ‘Talk To Me’ had everyone singing in chorus while the encore of ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘Deuce’ finished the set with a bang.

Frehley was supported by an incredible backing band that shared vocal duties and provided a backbone to some of the greatest rock songs ever written. Whether you’re a KISS fan or not, it has to be said that Ace Frehley is still delivering the goods. He still has the chops and while there are times when his vocals are a little hit and miss, for the most part he still nails it with everything he’s got.

This show was nothing but hot licks and guitar tricks as Frehley delivered a varied and well chosen set that covered his impressive career and no Ace set is complete without his customised smoking guitar. Sure there were some technical difficulties but nothing is always perfect and personally, I didn’t care. I went to see a legend give me a good time rock ‘n’ roll show and see some badass guitar work and that’s exactly what I got.

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