Space Ace: KISS founding member Ace Frehley plays at UB's Center for the Arts
Ace Frehley isn’t human.
What other 64-year-old can go onstage and play a hard rock show for 1,000 people, loud enough for the room to shake, with a 10-minute guitar solo thrown in?
Maybe the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.
But rock is ageless. Frehley and his crowd proved that Monday night with an incredible, room-shaking performance at the Center for the Arts.
Ace Frehley, born Paul Frehley in the Bronx, is the former lead guitarist and founding member of KISS, one of the best-selling rock bands in the world. Performing on his Space Invader Tour, Frehley came to the CFA Monday to give a memorable performance to a passionate crowd of KISS and rock fans alike.
In the front row, a father and son pumped their fists along to the drone of heavy guitar riffs while an elderly couple, dressed in leather pants and black Ace Frehley T-shirts bobbed their heads to the music. A group of high school students from Eden stood next to them, stomping their feet, jumping up and down and playing air guitar.
Robert and Sheeran Schmander, a married couple from Buffalo and both 45, said they have been KISS and Ace Frehley fans for as long as they can remember – which is why they brought their daughter, Evangelista, 17, out to see him.
Sheeran said she remembers going to her first KISS show in 1984 at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.
“Ace flicked a pick into my hair and all these teenage boys went crazy trying to grab it,” she said.
Not much has changed, apparently.
Frehley frequently tossed picks into the crowd during Monday’s show and laughed when he saw crowd members scrambling to find them.
It didn’t matter what song Frehley played – the crowd would burst into a loud, appreciative cheer every time a new song started.
He played all his biggest hits including, “New York Groove,” “Rock Soldiers” and “Rip It Out.”
Robert Dettelis, a 46-year-old Lancaster resident, brought his son, Robert, 12, to his first rock show.
Dettelis said he has been a KISS fan since he was a child.
“Frehley is a special performer,” Dettelis said. “Its rebel rock for the young – his music is honest. He’s not about the commercial side, he just lives for the music and the artistry.”
The opening band, Klear, a local rock group, told the crowd about its love for KISS during its warm-up set.
Bruce Wojick, the lead guitarist, said, “I started playing guitar 25 years ago because of Ace Frehley.”
The biggest song of the night was “Shock Me.” At the end of the song, while his band left the stage, Frehley stood alone and played his 10-minute guitar solo for the crowd.
Frehley’s crowd control was impressive – he walked calmly from side to side and touched hands in front row and tossed picks while slamming an electric guitar.
By the end of the solo, members of the crowd had rushed the stage and crowded the aisles just to be closer to the guitarist.
The security guards, having to pull people away from stage all night, gave up trying to clear the front for the last couple songs – it was too frenetic and each new guitar riff only made them crazier.
For his encore, Frehley played an old KISS song: “Detroit Rock City.”
He didn’t miss a note.