Friday, March 21, 2008

Ace Frehley: Rocket Ride Tour (Montreal Metropolis)

I would have and should have posted about this sooner, but it has been a bit of a whirlwind of misadventure that hasn't provided much time for this blog since it happened, which it shouldn't have in the first place. That is, instead of being on a plane to visit my family in Wisconsin, I spent the night (March 3, 2008) at Montreal’s Metropolis watching former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley rock the house on his Rocket Ride Tour.

Now, don’t think of me as uncouth, my flight was canceled and postponed until the next day; I had nothing to with it and absolutely no ulterior motives. And although visiting my grandmother and 23-year-old cousin, both of whom were diagnosed with cancer in the same week, was very important to me, I'm glad for my third chance to see Ace Frehley play (my first time seeing him without KISS).

On with the show!

Ace Frehley rocked and exceeded my expectations in the process. His playing was tight, his vocals (though he didn’t sing every number) were spot-on, and he doesn’t appear as acned or as bloated and droopy as he does in photos (especially photos of him in his KISS uniform), which might have something to do with his being 17 months clean and sober at the time of the show. He still sounds like a drugged-out hippie when he attempts to entertain the audience between songs, which probably has something to do with 40 years of not being clean and sober.

Ace Frehley’s backing band – comprised of Anthony Esposito (bass), Derrek Hawkins (rhythm guitar), and Scot Coogan (drums) – played like a machine, and it looked like one too. Esposito and Hawkins were decked out in identical overalls, which says to me that they are replaceable, expendable and ruled by a one-man KISS Army. Coogan was fortunate enough to go shirtless under the stage lights, but he surely falls into the same category. The point is that they performed as a tight unit, but I felt like I was watching a second-rate KISS cover band whenever anyone else but Ace Frehley took over duties on the mic.

We all know that Ace Frehley is far from being a guitar virtuoso, no matter how much you like and admire him. What he could do exceptionally well, however, was write wicked licks that were so simple that he made everyone else look like idiots for not having written them earlier. He also could put on a show, either with a custom guitar with flashing lights built into it or with pyro that set his Les Paul on fire. Though I was surprised to see Ace carry this relic from his KISS years to his solo show, I was pleased tee ito s nevertheless.

The venue was hardly at capacity and the demographic of the crowd was definitely diverse, but all who were there were undoubtedly KISS fans. Though there were kids there who were barely in their teens and hot, slutty rocker chicks, three were also the old folks who were present for KISS’ first coming. I might be showing my age, though I’m in none of the previously mentioned age groups, but I had an epiphany while at the show when I saw a man standing at the back of the crowd during Ace Frehley’s encore – the dude was rocking out playing air guitar on his cane! I guess it’s time for me to start looking to attend concerts held at the county fair.

So, what were the songs that Ace Frehley played on this extremely loud set list? If you must know, he rocked the shit out each and every one of the following:

Rip It Out
Hard Times
Snowblind-I Want You
Rock Soldiers
Into The Void
Strange Ways
Shock Me
NY Groove
Shot Full Of Rock
Rocket Ride
Love Gun
Cold Gin

Sunday, March 2, 2008

CD Review/Artist Review: The Pierces - thirteen tales of love and revenge

I’ll admit it, I judged The Pierces by their looks when I first saw them. I thought that they would be a CW brand of underground/indie rock: over-produced, polished, thick like molasses, and plastic. In short, I thought that The Pierces, comprised of sisters Catherine and Allison, would sound like Paris Hilton’s “Stars Are Blind.” I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I fired up my YouTube to give The Pierces a listen, the first song I fell on was “Boring,” a smart and sarcastic look at the life of a socialite. As they name the finer things in life and complain about how “life is such a chore” with Chris Isaak undertones, Madonna (circa early ‘90s) shadows and a Sean Connery-era James Bond vibe, The Pierces succeed at drawing the listener in with sexual languidness and an almost disturbing sister-on-sister contact.

The folk-rock duo released their third album, thirteen tales of love and revenge, on March 20, 2007, which at once infuses the macabre, eerie sound of The Doors with what you’d expect to hear in the carnival tent of a traveling gypsy circus. Other key tracks include the melancholy “Three Wishes,” the playful and sinister “Secret,” and the man-destroying “Lights On.”

What makes The Pierces so appealing? Resounding harmonies, lyrics with substance, a unique sound that doesn’t descend into self-absorption, and photogenic sisters (can’t lie, that’s a part of it).