BLINK AND blink again. Above is the picture you thought you’d never see: Ace Frehley, less hirsuite than normal but unmistakable nonetheless, decked out in full stage regalia and nestling nonchalantly within the Kiss ranks.

As you’re no doubt aware, rumours surrounding the guitarist have flown fast and furious of late, some claiming he’d gone solo others that he’d just (hic) gone, but all have been staunchly denied by management and band, who could now be excused for collectively dubbing their forthcoming post-Xmas dates the ‘We Told You So Tour’.

Personally, I’m still not convinced that Ace, despite getting sleeve space for his features, plays on ‘Creatures Of The Night’, Kiss’ latest, strictly metallic, offering but there can now no question that the other-galactic one will continue to play out his fantasy role to the hilt, plans to introduce another guitarist at the side of the stage (Steve Casey in drag?) having been firmly knocked on the head.

“Actually, Ace is lucky to be alive, “reveals Paul Stanley over the Kerrang! hot-line. “He didn’t really want people to know but he had a very bad car accident a few months back and completely totalled his Porsche. He’s still in pain and has a bit of trouble ‘whiplashing’, but at least he’s in one piece.”

Despite this dramatic, real-life reconstruction of ‘Detroit Rock City’, however, the band have lined up a heavy touring schedule that should keep them busy for most of next year. Originally, they were due to play some South American shows but for political reasons these have had to be cancelled and Alberqueque, New Mexico, on December 27, is now the opening date, heralding a further 99 gigs over a five month period. Kiss’ first US tour in some three years it’ll see the four playing 8-20,000-seaters and taking in places they haven’t shaken since the early the days.

Older, harder material has now been introduced – ‘I Want You’ not performed live since ‘77, will certainly feature and ‘Deuce’ and ‘I Stole Your Love’ have been rehearsed – as well as a new metallic stage (right), recently unveiled for nigh on 300 media persons at a press conference (!) in Los Angeles where these pics were taken. As you can gather, the theme is a military one, a tank to be precise, the turret and gun (which works, I’m assured) acting as a base for Eric Carr’s drums and the treads, illuminated naturally, flanking the stage on either side.

This setup, which probably won’t be seen in Europe till late next year, perfectly complements the ‘Creatures Of The Night’ album in reflecting a new-found hunger and aggression within the Kiss ranks. No more compromises, no more half-measures.. . and definitely no synths!

“Our road crew have direct orders to kill all synth players that approach the stage, “warns Gene Simmons. “Our aim, as it’s always been, is to get up onstage and put on the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show in the world!”
(to be continued – without a doubt).

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