More Than Words: Marty Friedman headlines epic All-Instrumental night in Anaheim

By Andrew Bansal
(photos by Matt Nielson)

August 27th 2017, The Parish at House Of Blues, Anaheim CA: Shortly after the release of his latest solo album ‘Wall Of Sound’, guitarist extraordinaire Marty Friedman embarked on a North American headline tour, bringing not only his own talents to stages across the continent but also showcasing an excellent and highly dynamic group of musicians in his solo band. Plus, any Marty Friedman tour can be expected to present great support acts, and this was no different, with Scale The Summit and The Fine Constant also on the bill to make it a full evening of all-instrumental music. Towards its very end, the tour arrived in Anaheim for a show at the Parish Room, the smaller room inside the new House Of Blues. In this new, unfamiliar setting, attendees were treated to a night they will not forget any time soon.

Doors opened at 7, and ticket holders trickled into this lovely establishment, as this intimate 400-capacity Parish provided quite a pleasant retreat from other venues metal concertgoers have been far too used to visiting repeatedly. The ambiance seemed welcoming for artists and fans alike. Even the bathroom walls were decorated with classy murals of Prince and David Bowie. Concerts are obviously all about the bands, but it’s an added bonus when the venue itself makes for a unique experience, and it can be safely said that any show at the Parish Room would be worth the drive from surrounding cities.

Promptly at 8 PM, opening act The Fine Constant took the stage for an impressive 30-minute set of instrumental modern prog jams, played by a three-piece comprising two guitar players and a drummer. Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, The Fine Constant was formed by guitarist Sarah Longfield in 2012, and those in the underground circles that have followed the band for the past 5 years would know that Longfield and her band mates have put in a lot of work to get to this point. They could not have asked for a better tour to be on, and Marty Friedman fans arriving early enough to catch this band’s set would have walked home having discovered an excellent young band right up their alley. At metal concerts it’s never fashionable to be late, because you might miss out on talented groups such as The Fine Constant.

The Fine Constant photos:

Another instrumental prog trio came next, Scale The Summit from Houston, Texas. This band has done the rounds for quite a while now, but they never jump on tours that don’t fit them, and in their performance they never disappoint. They’ve gone through lineup changes in recent times, but guitarist and mainman Chris Letchford is not one to ever give up, and for the band’s current incarnation he has managed to assemble an absolutely fantastic three-piece lineup. Even though the band was known as a four-piece for the longest time, this trio does full justice to all things Scale The Summit, from the newest material to the oldest. The band played a few selections from their 6th full-length ‘In A World of Fear’, which they self-released in 2017, along with older tunes which longtime fans in the audience recognized instantly. When it comes to this particular niché and sub-genre, there are very few bands that have delivered with the consistency of Scale The Summit, for 12 years and counting.

Scale The Summit photos:

Scale The Summit set list:
1. The Warden
2. Royal Orphan
3. Atlas Novus
4. Cosmic Crown
5. Odyssey
6. Neon Tombs
7. Opal Bones
8. Dream12
9. Witch House

The scheduled time for Marty Friedman to hit the stage was supposedly 10 PM, but the minutes kept ticking by and the restless anxiety in the crowd grew. Those who had seen Marty and his band before would have known that whenever they eventually come out, it would be worth the wait. It sure was, when they finally appeared at 10:35. But the delay wasn’t the only problem the band faced at this show. Right off the bat, Marty’s guitar cut out and was inaudible, which frustrated him to no end and the band ended up restarting the first tune twice over, because the man at the helm wouldn’t have it any other way. Not often do you get to witness Marty Friedman playing a song three times. But once the band powered through the Spinal Tap-ish start, it was the most gloriously skillful and energetic exhibition of musicianship one would ever get to witness.

The quartet blasted through one tune after another, the 15-song set representing a good chunk of Marty’s solo discography. Of course, he also cleverly and strategically threw in bits of cover tunes, including a couple that sent the denim vest clad Megadeth fanatics in the crowd into total frenzy. Only at a Marty Friedman show do you get to see a mosh pit for a guitar solo, and this was for his signature ‘Tornado Of Souls’ solo. Whether it be age-old licks and solos or brand new tunes, Marty was at the peak of his powers, and clearly has not lost his chops through the years.

But the most striking aspect of a Marty Friedman show is that it is completely unlike an Yngwie Malmsteen show, as in, Marty lets his band take as much of the center stage and spotlight as himself. Just as well, they fully deserve it because they add several dimensions to the show and raise the quality and entertainment value so much higher. Kiyoshi Manii is by far the most compelling bassist on the planet, drummer Chargeeee is most outrageous and flashy in keeping with his glam metal persona, and guitarist Jordan Ziff has the calibre and stage presence to match Marty on the six-string. First-timers come to see Marty Friedman, but clearly leave the show as new lifelong fans of The Marty Friedman Band.

Kiyoshi Manii
Jordan Ziff

Despite concerns of a curfew, the band played their full set and gave the audience a show more than worth the money, time and drive. By the time all was said and done, it was 20 minutes past midnight, and attendees departed the Parish, some of them knowing full well that they’d be hurting at work the next morning, but also that it’d be totally worth the pain.

The talent, fury, intensity and energy of Marty Friedman and his band is simply insurmountable, and this concert was sheer proof. Overall, an incredible evening filled with brilliant musicianship from the headliner as well as the support acts.

Marty Friedman photos (and lots of them!)

Marty Friedman set list:
01. Hyper Doom
02. Amagigoe
03. Street Demon
04. Elixir
05. Stigmata Addiction
06. Devil Take Tomorrow
07. Tibet & Angel
08. Ashes to Ashes / Forbidden / Tornado of Souls medley
09. Ripped
10. Inferno
11. Whiteworm
12. Self-Pollution
13. Undertow
14. Thunder March / Barbie Bandits
15. Kaeritakunatta Ko

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