w/ Operation: Mindcrime
April 5, 2016
The legendary Spaceman himself, Ace Frehley, has hit the road once again in support of not just his Space Invader album but his upcoming covers album called Origins Vol 1. I hadn’t seen Ace in many years and the way my heroes are dropping like flies I knew that this was a show that I just couldn’t miss. Joining Ace on this tour was none other than Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime (cue the haters). This was a show that I was very excited about and more than honored to have the opportunity to cover.
Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse was absolutely packed! I saw quite a few painted faces and there were more tucked in t-shirts and mom jeans than you could shake a smoking Les Paul at. Add to that mix the abundance of guys who were proudly sporting their old Frehley’s Comet shirts that were pretty much fitting them like jogging bras these days. Oh, and I can’t leave out the horde of dudes walking around with their guitars which they paid a hefty $500.00 for the opportunity to get Ace to sign their axes and take a photo with them.
I made my way up into the balcony and secured a seat in the sold out Playhouse just in time for Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime to take the stage. As many of you all know, I’m a huge fan of Tate and I have to say that the hate that this guy gets is almost at a comical level these days. Those who have chosen to take sides in this ridiculous battle should have been shut the fuck up as Geoff and Company hit the stage with selections from Rage for Order. As Tate let out the first notes of “Screaming in Digital”, I immediately looked around and saw the look of surprise on people’s faces. This made me feel so fucking proud. Unlike the “other” Queensryche, Tate has a connection to these songs and it shows in his passion and his delivery where as the other QR is just some guy singing the songs with zero soul.
Operation: Mindcrime’s nearly 50 minute set covered quite a bit of ground and the band was in top form as Tate led them through a set list containing such classics as “I Don’t Believe In Love”, “Eyes of a Stranger”, “Jet City Woman”, and “Silent Lucidity.” One of the new songs from The Key, “Re-Inventing the Future” was a very pleasant surprise which I thought had a very classic, almost Rage for Order kind of tone to it. As a matter of fact, Rage for Order seemed to be the best description of this band’s current style and set list with the highlight being “Walk in the Shadows.” Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime definitely put the haters in their place last night with one of the strongest shows I’ve seen them do to date.
When it was time for the Space Ace himself to take the stage, you could feel the electricity in the air. As they sound checked the instruments before taking the stage, I knew right away that this was going to be a loud fucking show. Thank Hell for ear plugs! Ace Frehley and his band took the stage to a huge roar as they kicked right into “Rip it Out” which brought a huge response from the sold out room. I was really blown away by just how tight Ace and his band was and you could see just how much fun he was having on stage this night.
Ace and his band delivered a marathon 17 song set that spanned this long, fruitful and legendary career covering such KISS classics as “Rocket Ride”, “Shock Me”, and “Cold Gin.” Ace’s witty banter with the crowd was so much fun and it served as a reminder as to why everyone loves Ace so much. Where KISS seems to operate more like a machine, Ace choose to do things significantly looser and even at times seemed to have a blast improvising with longtime guitarist, Richie Scarlett. I was also impressed by how Ace seemed to have no problem turning over the mic to his other band mates to take over lead vocals on certain songs. Drummer Scot Coogin proved to be the MVP when it came to this as he delivered some seriously powerhouse vocals on “Love Gun.” I was totally blown away by this guy’s vocals as he perfectly nailed it. The only dud in this otherwise outstanding set was “New York Groove.” I know this was a huge hit for Ace but this song was pretty much akin to pulling the emergency break up and nearly grinding things to a haul. I feel like this song would’ve served better as an encore or something.
The band left the stage after “Cold Gin” and returned for a one-two punch encore of “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce.” Coogin’s vocals on “Detroit Rock City” were outstanding and honestly, he actually does a better Paul Stanley than Paul Stanley does these days so if KISS is really looking for a replacement, this is your man. The band took their final bow to the very appreciative crowd, the stage curtain was drawn, and the lights came on.
All in all, Ace Frehley’s show was a fucking blast. I do have to wonder if the ol’ Ace is back on the booze as he definitely seemed to be a bit on the saucy side. Who knows and honestly, I could care less because at the end of it all, I had a fucking blast. Ace Frehley put on a show last night that was way more fun than the last few KISS shows I’ve seen and again, reminded me why he’s so beloved by his fans. He was fun, gracious, and gave 110% last night. It’s nice to know that after all these years there is still an Ace in the deck worth playing.