Marty Friedman Blisters at Gramercy Theatre NYC 9-10-15 w/ Exmortus & Metalfier

Many recognize the name Marty Friedman as one of Megadeth’s best guitarists to ever grace their lineup through the years. Originally part of the Neoclassical Metal band Cacophony, upon their disbandment, Friedman auditioned for Megedeth, and officially joined the fold in February of 1990. Just in time to be a part of one of Megadeth’s most epic albums, Rust in Peace, released later that year, Friedman’s tenure in the band was felt strongly on 1992’s Count Down to Extinction all the way through 1999’s Risk. Performing for the final time with Megadeth in early 2000, Friedman took the time to further dive into his solo efforts which began all the way back in 1988 with his debut, Dragon’s Kiss.

Now over three decades into his storied career Friedman returned in 2014 with his blistering new album, Inferno, via Prosthetic Records. Residing in Japan for some time now, fans in North America have yearned for Friedman’s return to touring the region for some time, and finally, in 2015, he has returned for a Fall tour. Marking his first time touring The States in over a decade, the trek kicked off on September 9th, and on Thursday the 10th, arrived in New York City. It was a miserable, drencher, pre-Autumn day, an assumption of the season to come in just a mere few days. Although, the weather did not stop the Heavy Metal fans from lining up in front of Gramercy Theatre on East 23 Street/Lexington Avenue in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan for a chance to see Friedman live with support from New York based Metal band Metalfier, along with Thrash Metal band Exmortus.

Starting the night’s performances was New York City Metal band Metalfier. They made their start in 2004, has had many line-up changes since their inception, and finalizing their band line-up with Andrew Janda, the only consistent band member of the band since the beginning, on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Jeffrey Monge is the lead guitarist, stage left, and then the rhythm section brings Miguel Rodriguez on bass, and Drummer Jedrek Bielawiec. The crowd was a little silent, waiting until the show began, and when Janda came out on stage, he made the band’s presence felt, shouting out to the crowd, “YOU READY!” Straight from that, the band went into their first song, “Bad Reputation.” They continued on performing more of their song such as “Holidaze,” “Heavy Metal Life,” a cover of Metallica’s “Damage Inc.,” “Metal Heart,” “Devils’ Vision,” and finishing off with “There’s a Devil Inside My Head.” The band plays shows in the city regularly, so be sure to check them out.

After a quick ten minute set change, direct openers for Friedman this tour, labelmates Exmortus took to the stage. Hailing from Southern California, Exmortus released their third overall studio album, Slave to The Sword, in 2014 to positive review. Touring with bands like Flotsam and Jetsam and playing Knotfest in 2014, Exmortus continue to build a strong name for themselves among Metal heads. Made up of Drummer Mario Mortus, Guitarist/Vocalist Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez, Guitarist/Vocalist David Rivera, and newest member, Bassist Mike Cosio, the band blew the heads off the audience.

Full of energy, Exmortus brought their old-school Heavy Metal/Thrash style to the stage, something that has been missing in the world of Heavy Metal from the newer generation. Keeping this classic sound alive and active with their sound, as well as getting the audience to bang their heads, the band ignited a circle pit in the middle of the general admission area. Now, just like Metalfier; Exmortus performed a half-hour set as well, performing tracks from their two albums, Immortality Made Flesh (2013) and the aforementioned Slave to the Sword. Starting with “Immortality Made Flesh,” they proceeded with “Slave to the Sword,” “Moonlight,” “Relentless,” and “Metal is King,” which they titled as “Marty is King” for Mr. Friedman himself. Having everyone cheering for more, Exmortus were a big hit with NYC and hopes are they come back for a lengthier set soon.

Marty Friedman, as a lot of his fans know, has been in the music industry a long time now. As mentioned, Friedman has not done a U.S. tour since his time with Megadeth in support of Risk, and his last show with them was in January 2000. Fast forward all these years later, Friedman was supposed to do a tour last year in 2014, but was postponed to a later time. That later time came with a sea of buzz in the Metal community, and by the time he and his band were ready to grace the stage of Gramercy Theatre, the room was jam packed.

With American youngster Jordan Ziff on the second guitar, along with Japan’s Kiyoshi on bass and Chargeeeeee (pronounced Georgie) on drums, Friedman’s international band was ready to Rock-n-Roll. A few minutes before 9:30 PM, the loud chants of “MARTY! MARTY! MARTY” came from the audience. His band emerged to the stage, and lastly, the man everyone was chanting for, Marty Friedman, made his appearance. He had a guitar strapped on him, and before starting, he went to the drum-kit with his bandmates for a fist-bump and then went into his performance, with “Hyper Doom” from his latest release Inferno. There are many times when “instrumental” concerts are not liked by Rock fans, but this show, Friedman and his band kept the show so entertaining, and not a soul lost interest. Going into 2009 Japanese cover track “Amagi Goe,” they followed with 2006’s “Street Demon” which rocked fast, loud, and heavy.

Friedman kept to rocking, with limited talking, but kept the crowd intrigued.; Whenever any stoppages occurred, the chant of “MARTY” started again. Playing on with songs like “Elixir,” “Stigmata Addiction,” and “Devil Take Tomorrow,” the heavy offering of 2006’s Loudspeaker album was devoured by the audience. Already a kick-ass show thus far, Ms. Kiyoshi of Osaka, Japan had her bass solo and then went into the first verse of the Stevie Wonder/Red Hot Chili Peppers classic, “Higher Ground.” Her playing style with that 5-string bass, was not exactly, but closely reminiscent to Flea, not because of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover, but throughout the night, Kiyoshi slapped that bass and rocked out with the boys that she shared the stage with, holding her ground.

There was still a lot more guitar rocking to be had from Friedman and his cohorts though, and the fans were with him. Continuing on with “Ashes to Ashes,” “Forbidden City,” and “Tornado” joined in a three-song medley before Ziff dominated on a blistering guitar solo.  Keeping the energy flowing, new album title-track “Inferno” came before “Undertow,” and “Dragon Mistress” with Metalfier’s lead guitarist Monge coming out to join the shred fest. Having everyone drooling in envy, the set closed out taking everyone back in time with a medley of 1988’s “Thunder March” and newer cut, “Ballad of The Barbie Bandits.” Thankfully, Friedman and company returned for one last hurrah during the encore of another Japanese cover called “Kaeritaku Natta yo” that soared high with emotional guitar notes and hard-hitting drumming.

Though Marty Friedman has not really made an appearance in United States in some time, his fans in his homeland were appreciative to see his return. Fans filled up the entire venue floor from the front to the very back of the Gramercy Theatre and the talented guitarist could not have asked for a better welcome home. With that said, it was miserable outside, but it was incredible on the inside for these New Yorkers. The 21-date tour wraps up October 3rd in Ramona, California, so do not miss out.

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1 Comment

  • Best review of this tour’s show I have read so far and magnificent photos. Great pace and mix of songs in Marty’s set. I was at the Boston show, another very appreciative audience – got hair-whipped from all sides during Exmortus’s set.

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