Ok, it was a Sunday and it was the middle of Manchester. Now this would normally spell disaster in most cities regardless of the band, but this is Manchester and the music loving maniacs were out is full force as the capital of the North gave new meaning to a quiet Sunday. Only Manchester could get away with it and once again an almost sold out rock concert awaits. On this occasion, it is all about the mighty Mark Tremonti. Now most of us know Tremonti as the guitarist of Alter Bridge and some of us know, also for Creed. In recent times however, Mark had decided to venture out with his own band and front it instead – and for good reason, this guy has a seriously good voice, something that needed to be heard. With a critically acclaimed album under his wing Tremonti had already had a massive following in the UK, ‘All I Was’ was constantly raved about on radio and glossy pages, and it was going to be interesting to see how it faired in the flesh, on a live stage and in front of a couple a thousand adoring fans. Tremonti had decided to bring with them the veterans of Scotland – Logan and the highly tipped “band to watch” – Heaven’s Basement. It was time for the doors to open and the rush to the front to begin, ready for the opening act and hopefully a cracking night of high octane rock.
The reverb of the intro was astounding, the very foundations were rumbling as the start to the Scottish veterans, Logan, was preparing to take us by storm. Sporting an almost brand new line up, the Glasgow boys looked revved up and raring to go. Mick Coll and new comer Max McPherson were strangling their guitars as the heavy low scream erupted through the intro; Stef Lach merely added the bone crushing reverb from his bass to what was turning into a phenomenal gut wrenching sound. The drums of 16 year old Calum Bair kick in as the start of ‘Hallowed Ground’ rings out throughout the venue much to the joy of the on-looking crowd. As the intro snaps in, Kenny Collins proudly takes his place to belt out a sumptuous vocal range that any frontman would be proud of. It was like a vocal rush of adrenaline that blended with the stunning roar of riffs and thundering drums. It’s incredible how young Calum is when you considered his ability and talent; nevertheless he continued the small set with aplomb. Kenny slammed out ‘Light it Up’ as the sparkling new line-up took to their positions with calm and pizazz. Hard man Vinny Jones look-a-like Stef created some sublime bass lines as ‘Brother’ illuminated the venue with stunning melodies and gorgeous riffs; Max McPherson’s solo notes were gorgeous in every right and the pounding riffs of Mick Coll were simply outrageous as ‘Resurrect Me’ shook the floor as the crowd started pounding away. The roar of the audience was deafening, truly appreciating the skills of the Scottish quintet. It all ended with a flurry as the last track, ‘When I Get Down’ blasts out to end a fantastic set as the room bounces to the rhythm and the brilliance of the sound erupting from the speakers. This was a great start to the year for the Scottish boys and it will be a fantastic thing to see them return; great entertainment and a perfect warmer for the next act to follow. The crowd mingled and fantastic words flowed as streams of the crowd head to the merchandise stands with the sole purpose to buy a Logan album or two.
As the lights dim and the threads of traditional metal rip roars out of the speakers, a la AC/DC, you know it’s time for Heaven’s Basement. The bass drum of Chris Rivers kick-starts the ravaging ‘Welcome Home’. The guitar riffs tear us a new one as they reverberate around the old style venue; the brimming balcony lean against the bars with their hair flying wild. It was a mirror image of the charismatic Aaron Buchanan as his energy was unmatched on that stage. He literally could not stay still as the enigmatic and high octane, fuel driven metal, reminiscent of Airbourne, continued with ‘Fire, Fire’. There was a reason why these guys are seen as the act to watch this year, the energy was electrifying and it was clear that these guys really love what they are doing and by the reaction of the crowd, so did they. The riffs came thick and fast as Sid Glover stole the spot light from time to time as the blistering pace of the threads whipped up a frenzy of speed and precision. You can’t help but move to the groove; the smiles on their faces are clear to see for the crowd as they tear the life out of their instruments. The sheer charisma of the band was enough to drool over and they can play incredibly well with it. This is a band to watch for sure, they appeal to an enormous audience and they carry that machismo you need in this genre with such gusto, it’s addictive. The set continues with the storming ‘I am Electric’ and the egotistic and outstanding ‘Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch’. The bass lines of Rob Ellershaw were nothing short of breath taking and it added such chemistry and depth to the overall sound and the British wave of excellence continued. Their debut album had been out mere weeks but it was clear that the crowd had already had a taste of the tracks previous to the gig; but it was time for something a little older from their opening EP, ‘Reign on My Parade’ which erupted into a tirade of movement from the crowd. As things came to a head for Heaven’s Basement, they ended on a high with the mighty ‘Executioner’s Day’ the last track of the new album. It was a fitting end and one that was likely to return in the near future as the ecstatic audience clearly look pumped for more of the same.
After such a stunning support that could have headlined their own tours, Tremonti looked prepared to blow the roof off the Ritz here in Manchester. The crowd had not just been warmed up they had been set on fire by Logan and Heaven’s Basement. An almost sold out venue erupts as the quartet arrive on stage, the screams and roars were deafening as the major riff lord strikes out ‘Leave it Alone’. The crowd went wild as the massive riffs tore open the crowd as the vibe of the hall went from electrifying to damn right volcanic in just a few cords. It was an eruption of beautiful sound and mesmerising vocals as the heat rose to boiling point. The floor was being pounded as ‘Giving Up’ and fan favourite ‘All I Was’ continued to impress as the quartet was giving it their all to pulverise the audience into submission. With only three tracks gone, Mark Tremonti was proving once again why he was a Grammy award winner and yet again the Manchester crowd were going wild for his distinctive riffs and the incredible faces he pulled as his fretwork enticed and mesmerised the audience. The introduction of Eddy Van Halen’s son Wolfgang on bass was just inspiring as he tore through the tracks with such comfort with ‘Proof’ and ‘So You’re Afraid’ ripping out. Normally you would expect some kind of ballad considering Mark’s background but with his solo music it was clear that he had gone back to his roots of Pantera, Metallica and the likes of Slayer and Anthrax. The sheer work rate of Mark’s and Eric Friedman’s fretwork was astounding with ‘Doesn’t Matter’ and ‘The Things I’ve Seen’ continuing the trend of the only album created. One thing was looking certain with the list of tracks being played; it looked like we were going to be in for a treat of the entire album.
Well that treat just turned into something special as super heavy B-Side ‘All That I Got’ really got the party out of control, the drumming of Garrett Whitlock was breath-taking as the bass drum pedal pounded away to ‘Wish You Well’, creating a massive mosh pit frenzy that was a joy to see and something that really made the band humble too. The adventure was not over though, as once again the slight shift in pace continued to frazzle and ignite the fever pitched mob of adoring fans with ‘You Waste Your Time’ and ‘New Way Out’ presenting themselves with utter delight to the on looking masses. Now, of what I could recall, there were a mere two tracks remaining of the critically acclaimed album and with no surprise, the indulging and hypnotically heavy ‘Decay’ broke through, leaving the crowds appetite whet and wild with excitement. As the encore prepared, we were hit with the surprise package of the other B-Side track ‘Gone’; it’s unbelievable how these two tracks never got onto the album proper as they sounded just as powerful and entrancing as the tracks that did make it; the heavy riffs, the sweet solos and the roughhewn lyrics just smashed home. It left just one track and as Mark asked the audience what was left the whole house erupted with ‘Brains’, bringing a beaming smile to his face. It went down an absolute storm and it was the perfect end to a stunning evening of pure joyous ravaging Hard Rock.
Well what a night, and what a crowd; they truly complimented the entire evening, full of excitement and admiration for the three bands on display. Logan and Heaven’s Basement will be very happy with the response they got and it would seem a fair few new fans in the process. It was an expected performance from Mark Tremonti and crew when you consider the work rate that he produces with Alter Bridge; so we have seen him as a solo artist and as part of Alter Bridge, maybe, just maybe we might see Creed. Either way, no-one had gone home with a frown on their face, all that was seen was a sea of grins and laughing faces; a thoroughly orgasmic night of rock.
Review: Aaron Emerson
Photos: Heather Mc