NEPA Scene Staff

Ex-KISS guitarist Ace Frehley returns to Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on June 29

Ex-KISS guitarist Ace Frehley returns to Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on June 29
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

It was announced today that legendary guitarist Ace Frehley, a co-founding member of KISS, will return to the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, June 29 at 8 p.m., presented by Scranton classic rock radio station Rock 107.

The last time he performed at the Kirby Center in 2016, Frehley was rushed to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. This did not affect his 80-minute performance beforehand, however, and he played at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg later that year.

Tickets, which are $29.50, $39.50, and $49.50, plus fees, go on sale this Friday, March 15 at 10 a.m. and will be available at the Sundance Vacations Box Office at the Kirby Center (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre), online at, and by phone at 570-826-1100. A Kirby Member pre-sale begins Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m.

Here are a few things you probably know about Ace Frehley – he’s the original lead guitarist for KISS (which he co-founded in 1973). He was also their best – his song-within-the-song guitar solos are as much a part of KISS as the band’s seven-inch platform boots. And he has always been the coolest member of KISS – rock ‘n’ roll swagger, laid-back, mysterious – just ask Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Naoko Yamano of Shonen Knife, or Abbath of Immortal.

Heck, even people who don’t like KISS still love Ace.

What you may not know is that Ace Frehley has not been a member of KISS since 2002, when he left his second tenure with the band (there’s a “spaceman” currently playing leads for the band, but it’s not him). In his time away from KISS (1983-1996 and 2002-present), Frehley has put together the most successful solo career of any member, current or former.

And he is currently on a roll.

Ace recently embarked on his next musical journey with “Spaceman,” his third solo outing in four years. Of all his post-KISS recorded output, “Spaceman” might be the closest link to his widely acclaimed 1978 solo record, both in spirit and execution.

Frehley played all of the guitar parts on “Spaceman,” as well as bass on all but two songs. Longtime drummer Anton Fig, whose friendship with Frehley began in that 1978 record, also appears on “Off My Back” and “Pursuit of Rock and Roll” (longtime collaborators Scot Coogan and Matt Starr also play drums on “Spaceman”).

One listen of the opener “Without You I’m Nothing” should be a dead giveaway that the mighty dinosaur growl of a bass tone belongs to Gene Simmons, who co-wrote that song, along with “Your Wish Is My Command,” with the Space Ace at Frehley’s home studio in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Frehley recalls a relaxed three hours of hanging out, writing songs, and eating sandwiches with Simmons, who roomed with him back in the KISS daze. A lot of barbs have been thrown by both over the past couple of decades, but there’s still a mutual love for one another, made clear during Frehley’s recent stints on Simmons’ “Vault Experience.”

His reconnection with Simmons and fellow KISS vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley (who joined Frehley on a cover of Free’s “Fire and Water” for 2016’s covers LP “Origins, Vol. 1”) might be chalked up to the fact that Frehley has been sober for more than a decade (he celebrated 12 years of sobriety in September).

His clean living no doubt has a lot to do with his productive streak, which began with the release of his Top 20 “Anomaly” album in 2009, his Top 10 “Space Invader” LP in 2014 (a first for any KISS member), and continues with “Spaceman” (a title suggested by Simmons himself).

His latest album is a lean-and-mean nine tracks and includes what has become a trademark for any Ace joint – a cosmic instrumental. “Quantum Flux” is a classic prog ‘n’ roll song from Frehley, with lush acoustics and twin leads. Fans might also notice the song’s doomy outro, which nods
to “Black Diamond” on KISS’s 1974 debut.

There’s a thematic, almost biographical, thread running through the album of a long life in rock ‘n’ roll, although Frehley admits it wasn’t intentional. The first single “Bronx Boy” lays out his pre-KISS roots, running wild with an Irish street gang called the Ducky Boys. It might be his grittiest song to date, with an opening riff that lashes out like a switchblade.

“Pursuit of Rock and Roll” ticks off a list of rockers that made him who he is, including Little Richard and the Stones. Frehley also makes it clear that rock is truly all he needs: “So sick of looking at reality TV / and like the Beatles said, you gotta ‘Let It Be.’” His cover of Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back” gives the song a ripping power pop makeover.

“I was laying in bed with Rachael [Gordon] watching YouTube videos and that song came on. I told her I was gonna cover it. It’s about me,” Frehley said.

Along with writing and recording new material, he has also been tirelessly hitting the road, playing festivals as well as dates stateside and in Australia and Japan (including dates with the mighty Alice Cooper). As always, Frehley is traveling at an altitude us mere mortals will never understand – a life lived to the fullest and one that has defied… well, everything.

Read a full review and see photos from Ace Frehley’s 2016 concert at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre here.