I had a great time seeing music last night at the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY. I met up with my brother Ken, and took the long drive south. We arrived a little after 5, found the venue, gassed up the car and grabbed a quick meal. We returned to the venue around 6 and stood in the ever growing line. We chatted with a nice couple from Plattsburgh, saw a very young Ace fan, then got in and settled. The show was supposed to start at 8 but there was a lot of activity around the stage at 10 of and by 7:55 Within The Fire started rocking out their song Still Burning. They are a five-piece metal band with two guitars, bass, drums and a bald guy with a long gray beard singing. His voice was quite good and the band had a bit of a Priest or Maiden feel, though did not sound overly like either. I think the second song was Date With The Devil and the third was Three Days Ago. They played a song called Hypnotized and followed with Can’t Let Go. All the songs were hard driving rock and Three Days had some nice harmony guitar work. They closed the 35 minute set with a song for the sinners.
With zero fanfare and a 15 minute set break, suddenly I looked up and Simo were on stage and playing. They had a bit of a groovy swampy heavy rock sound and were completely intriguing. I’m not even sure what it was about the guitar/singer, bass, drum trio that I liked so much, but I was captivated from the first moment. They only played five songs but the first four were really cool and the fifth was a heavy rock version of With A Little Help From My Friends. The guitar player was shredding so hard at the end that he broke a string but they kept rocking until the crashing ending. I will have to find out more about them soon.
The next set break was not as quick but by 9:30 it looked like things were ready to go. I was wrong. It was about quarter of 10 when the lights went down and the bell started ringing and Fractured Mirror started to play. It went for a minute or so, then faded out and the stage was completely dark and empty. It was not long before a voice came over the speakers saying they had lost control of the lights. The audience impatiently waited and after a few minutes some of the stage lights came on. At 10:07 the lights went out again and Fractured Mirror started to play again. Again, it faded much to early, but Ace Frehley and his band just walked on stage and started playing Rip It Out. The lighting was fine for the rest of the night as Ace was joined by Richie Scarlet on guitar, Chris Wyse on bass and Scot Coogan on drums. All four sang lead and backing vocals throughout the night, but Ace sang the most. Toys rocked hard as the second song of the night then he pulled out the first one from his new album of cover songs. Emerald is my favorite Thin Lizzy song and Ace and the boys did a tremendous job with it. The audience was excited when he said they were going to play a song he wrote back in the 70’s. Parasite was the first Kiss song of the night and they rode that wonderful riff hard. Love Gun followed and was as bombastic as always. Snowblind rocked hard then they took us on a Rocket Ride. Bring It On Home started and ended as a bluesy number but had that Zeppelin feel for most of the middle. Ace marshaled all of us Rock Soldiers for a sing along and I loved the line about “If the devil wants to play a card game now, he’s gonna have to play without an Ace in his deck”. A short bass solo followed and Wyse showed himself to be very talented as he tossed in a little Fairies Wear Boots and God Of Thunder. They went back to the Hotter Than Hell album for Strange Ways then got another sing along going with New York Groove. 2 Young 2 Die was another Ace solo song that rocked hard. Scarlet got a short solo at the end but Ace played over it with him. I’m not sure I had seen a double guitar solo before, but they seemed to be having fun tossing in Secret Agent Man and the Batman theme and playing some harmony guitar. The Who’s I Can’t Explain followed but it turned out to be a tease. Will that be on Origins volume 2? They went classic with Shock Me and a great Ace solo followed. It was not super long but did feature the smoking guitar we all know and love. Ace simply said “Still Smoking” which was just great. He said to the crowd that he has been sober for 10 years then introduced a song about partying. He said it was OK for us to drink but to please not drink and drive, since he wanted to see us again. Cold Gin ended the set in a heavy rocking way. The audience could barely muster an encore clap, maybe it’s just too expected, but the band came back anyway. Detroit Rock City was beautiful and powerful and Deuce ended the night with a bang.
We headed out pretty quickly. The drive home was long but it went pretty smooth. In the back of my mind it was a teeny bit unnerving when trucks would drive by fast, considering the lyric in Detroit, but I kept my cool and delivered Ken safely at home in Shelburne, and myself shortly thereafter in Burlington. What a night. Wow, it was so cool to see a childhood hero in a club about the size of Higher Ground instead of the usual arena. I’m so glad I went.