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Ace Frehley sends Bend on a rocket ride

Ace Frehley looked out at the sparse crowd two songs into his set at the Tower Theatre on Monday.

He seemed just a bit disappointed. The audience, though enthusiastic, barely filled half the venue. But as the old cliche goes, the show must go on — and the founding KISS guitarist and consummate showman was more than game.

“Even though we don’t have a full house tonight,” he said, “we’re still gonna kick your ass.”

And for the rest of the evening, Frehley and his ace band (pun alert) — former The Cult and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Chris Wyse, longtime guitarist Richie Scarlet and session drummer/singer Scot Coogan — did just that, logging 90-plus minutes of sleazy, snarling rock ’n’ roll.

Though the band always knew its way around an anthem, KISS became a rock institution because of its wild stage show. Frehley (who received a visit from KISS frontman Gene Simmons at a show only days before the Bend date) didn’t have the makeup and costumes and fire, though a smoking guitar did show up in his hands during “New York Groove.” What he had was his commanding stage presence — he still makes cool look like the easiest thing in the world — and yes, the songs.

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