It’s been three years since Mark Tremonti’s self-titled band played Edinburgh and less than six months since the last Tremonti tour. Their return sees them on the other side of the country after Glasgow was well-served in the scorching summer heat. Thankfully, the Liquid Rooms is able to match that June evening inside on a damp December evening.
Having entirely missed openers, Disconnected, the small club is already full with people and it’s not long before melodic metallers, The Raven Age take to the small stage. Given there’s not a lot of space for them to work with due to two drum kits taking up a lot of the stage, it’s a fairly static performance with frontman Matt James making the best of a bad situation. There’s a sense that if they’d be on a bigger stage, they’d make the most of it. The music is fairly up-tempo with plenty of grooves for you to nod along with but the band know where to bring it down during the set by requesting phone lights for the opening of one song. As a live act, they’re as tight as can be and as they blend melody with crushing aggression at points, serve as an excellent support.
Tremonti take their places to the sounds of “Found” (latest album A Dying Machine’s instrumental closer) blasting through the PA before they begin their hour and a half assault of metal. “Cauterize” kicks the set off as a mammoth wall of sound before the charge is led with “You Waste Your Time” and “Another Heart”. Largely, the setlist is the same as June’s but they deviate in moments, such as the inclusion of “Traipse”, “The First The Last” and “Trust” from this year’s album. Elsewhere, fan favourites from the first album are served well such as “So You’re Afraid” and “You Waste Your Time”. Cauterize’s moment has the band at their most aggressive and in-your-face with thrashy riffs like “Flying Monkeys and “Radical Change” against the few gems culled from Dust like “Catching Fire” and “My Last Mistake”.
However, it’s not all fire and fury delivered from twin guitars. There’s a couple of sombre moments with “The Things I’ve Seen” and like The Raven Age, get the crowd to pull out their lights for “Dust”. It’s all perfectly paced and with the exception of the title track from the third album, the second half sees Mark Tremonti constantly urging the crowd to up the ante with the band ensuring they do the same. And for the most part, both parties are able to comply as they sing the lyrics back to the band and jump around with a small mosh pit constantly in flow for the duration of the performance.
Whilst it may be Mark Tremonti’s solo project, Tanner Keegan ensures he keeps the audience’s attention, constantly bouncing in his space as one of the most energetic bass players around, without missing a note. Meanwhile, Eric Friedman is able to have his own moments in the guitar spotlight with some blistering solos. He holds down his parts expertly, weaving around Mark Tremonti’s adding texture and depth to the songs and as technical as the best of them.
The elephant in the room of drummer Garrett Whitlock’s absence is noticeable from the start. Whitlock being MIA isn’t addressed – it isn’t necessary – but stand-in Ryan Bennett nails his drumming with aplomb and is introduced with the rest of the band. Having been playing with the band for a few months now, there’s a great chemistry between them and he treats the work with due respect, bringing his own energy and hammering them as if it was his own material.
Mark Tremonti himself is on fine form. Commanding the stage with ease, he’s not shy in showing his joy at getting the chance to play in an intimate venue. Vocally, he’s as robust as ever and puts his guitar skills through its paces, his chunky riffs characteristically his. Whilst some songs may sound like they’ve been left over from Alter Bridge sessions, they are distinctively heavier and have their own identity.
As typical closer “Wish You Well” brings the night to the end, as is their norm, the band forego an encore. Having relentlessly performed for the best part of ninety minutes and as part of an intensive tour, the band made sure they gave it their all and left the crowd wanting more. Ridiculously tight and with no end in sight, any notion that this band is simply a passing notion for anyone involved must have evaporated years ago.
Photos by Sean Larkin Photography