Review and photos by Greg Maki
Technically, Tremonti was supporting Seether on its “Poison the Parish” tour on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Baltimore’s Rams Head Live. But from the moment guitarist/vocalist Mark Tremonti and his bandmates took the stage and throughout their nearly hour-long set, it was the clear they were a big draw for a large portion of the audience. On a bill that also featured Veio and Big Story, Tremonti was the outlier of the night, filling the venue with its huge, speed-metal-inflected sound.
Supporting its superb sci-fi concept record “A Dying Machine” (read Live Metal’s review), Tremonti saved the new songs for the end of the set, starting instead with the blistering “Cauterize,” the title track from its 2015 release, followed by “You Waste Your Time,” a favorite from the 2012 debut, “All I Was,” and then back to “Cauterize” and its single, “Another Heart.” The set slowed down only for “The Things I’ve Seen,” also from “All I Was,” then the volume quickly climbed back to 11 for “Catching Fire” from 2016’s “Dust.” The thunderous stomp of “Flying Monkeys” was arguably the highlight of the entire night, providing a stark contrast to the blast of pure speed that followed, “Radical Change.” (Both songs are from “Cauterize.”)
Then it finally was time to address the new album, starting with the current single “Trust” leading into two of the most dynamic songs in the Tremonti catalog (including anything Mark has done with other bands)—”Throw Them to the Lions” and “A Dying Machine.” The up-tempo “Wish You Well,” from the debut album, then brought the set to an appropriately furious finish.
With drummer Garrett Whitlock sitting out this tour for undisclosed personal reasons, Ryan Bennett (whose credits include Eye Empire, Texas Hippie Coalition, Straight Line Stitch and Madame Mayhem) is filling in. He ably slipped into Whitlock’s shoes, which is saying something considering what a monster Whitlock is on the kit. Bennett teamed with bassist Tanner Keegan to provide tight, booming rhythms throughout the show.
As namesake, songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist, Mark Tremonti is the star of the band, and his performance on this night was as impeccable as ever. He’s an underrated singer, and the rough edges he adds to his vocals on stage make all the songs come across even heavier than they do on record. You can tell he relishes the opportunity to unleash his heavier side as a musician—a side hinted at by Alter Bridge and not even suggested by Creed.
Because Tremonti himself is so dominant, guitarist Eric Friedman is sort of a secret weapon for the band—obviously due to his playing, which included an occasional lead, but also with his crucial backing vocals, elevating many of the songs with his harmonies.
Even without its regular drummer, Tremonti the band was a tight, powerful unit, with the crowd reaction indicating an imminent rise to headliner status. That’s happening on a late-fall tour of Europe, and I doubt we’re far behind on these shores.
“You Waste Your Time”
“The Things I’ve Seen”
“Throw Them to the Lions”
“A Dying Machine”
“Wish You Well”