Gene Simmons + Ace Frehley 2018

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Gene Simmons + Ace Frehley 2018

Last time I saw a gig at Festival Hall it was back in 93 when Suicidal Tendencies supported Alice In Chains. It is not as big as I remember, but being 15 and caught in a mosh pit with Suicidal Tendencies smashing it on stage would seem big to any 15 year old. This was a little different, with seating on the floor, a much older crowd now, and a lot safer than all those years ago!
I’ve seen KISS a number of times, but not in the sole guise. Celebrating 40 years since the release of the KISS solo albums, Gene brought Ace over for the ride, which on a personal note, was a more salivating prospect than seeing the “God of Thunder”.
‘Fractured Mirror’ resonated through the speakers before Ace got on stage and kicked into gear with ‘Parasite’, backed with The Gene Simmons Band (minus Gene). KISS classics such as ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’ were scattered throughout the set, along with some of Ace’s signature songs such as ‘Shock Me’, ‘Strange Ways’, my personal favourite ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Rock Soldiers’, and one of his most famous, ‘Cold Gin’, finishing off the set.
Ace has declared himself sober, and for the most part was very solid with his performance. That unmistakable lead guitar sound is still there, and the smoking guitar was on show for all to see. His laid back vocal style wouldn’t have put too much strain on the vocal chords over the years, so still holds up rather well. The backing band was solid, but came to the fore when playing with Gene Simmons (hell, they were called the Gene Simmons Band, what would you expect?). I wouldn’t be surprised if this gig was a tester from Gene to see if Ace is up to scratch for the final farewell tour.
In what seemed just as much a marketing process as it was a rather enjoyable gig, Gene Simmons hit the stage and kicked off a better than expected set list with Deuce, more KISS classics, a few very rarely played tracks such as ‘Almost Human’, ‘Plaster Caster’, and ‘I’, from the oft-maligned Music from the Elder album.
Compared to Ace, the lights were bolder, the sound was stronger. I sensed this may not be coincidental. Take nothing away from Gene though, he is in fine form after all these years, and the solo tours was his time to shine. Geelong’s Amy Lehpamer was fortunate enough to get up on stage to sing ‘I Was made For Lovin You’ before he resumed his post behind the microphone, with more KISS tracks, mostly unheard to our our ears in a live environment.
It was a more relaxed vibe than your regular KISS gig, and as part of Gene personally delivering the “Vault”, those with deep enough pockets and a care factor high enough to purchase one, got to jump on stage for the final sing along extravaganza Rock N Roll All Night with which Ace also jumped up on stage for.
An enjoyable, though not mind blowing night of good, hard rock n roll was had by all. Bring on the farewell tour, and let’s hope Ace can don the make up for KISS one last time before the legends put the band to rest.
Festival Hall, Melbourne
30 August 2018
Reviewed by Glenn Lynch
Photos by John Raptis