Thursday, September 10, 2015

Marty Friedman at the Gramercy Theatre

Prior to his 10 years and 10 million record sales with the thrash metal band Megadeth, Marty Friedman lived in Washington D.C., Hawaii, Germany and California. At the age of 14, after attending a Kiss concert, Friedman taught himself to play guitar, and later formed several bands, including the neoclassical progressive rock band Cacophony. When Cacophony disbanded in 1989 after two albums, Friedman auditioned for Megadeth; Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine initially rejected Friedman for having multicolored hair, but Friedman played in Megadeth from 1990 to 2000. Since 1988, Friedman has released 12 solo albums; the most recent, Inferno, was released on May 27, 2014. Friedman relocated in 2003 to Tokyo, Japan, where he has hosted several television programs in fluent Japanese.

Three decades into his career, Marty Friedman's 2015 concert tour marks his first American concert series since leaving Megadeth. Upon taking the stage at the Gramercy Theatre tonight, Friedman and his band members gathered by the drum kit for a fist-bump. With that, Friedman turned to face the audience and tore into "Hyper Doom" from the Inferno album with his trio, youthful guitarist Jordan Ziff of Scottsdale, Arizona, and a Japanese rhythm section of bassist Kiyoshi and drummer Chargeeeeee. Friedman spoke to the audience occasionally between songs, but otherwise the set was performed without microphones. The second song, "Amagi Goe," was a rocking reworking of a song by Sayuri Ishikawa (think Japanese Barbra Streisand). The next surprise was how "Street Demon" from his 2006 Loudspeaker album incorporated a snippet of Megadeth's "Holy Wars...The Punishment Due." That would be all the Megadeth the audience would hear. Friedman showcased his virtuoso skills as he fused elements of neo-classical, thrash metal and progressive rock with various electric guitars, using unorthodox picking, arpeggiated chords and unique scales and arpeggios. Friedman also showcased his musicians' prowess with several solos. Friedman even invited a fan from the audience to jam on "Dragon Mistress"; the houselights came on and he selected Jeffrey Monge of the opening act Metalfier. (Was it a set-up? We do not know, but Monge played amazing blazing solos.) In all, Friedman provided solid proof that he has much more to offer beyond Megadeth.

Visit Marty Friedman at