Pop-Break Live: Tremonti at The Highline Ballroom

words and photos by lisa pikaard…

The journey of a musician is arduous and labyrinthine. It seems as though rock bands often have many ups and downs- lineup changes, break ups and reunions, Grammys and flops — and Mark Tremonti has not remained unscathed. His journey has had its fair number of triumphs and shortcomings, progressing from Creed to Alter Bridge, and back again, and now to Tremonti. Mark Tremonti has made the most important leap with his music, however; it is finally entirely his own and it is more than anyone could have hoped for or expected.

Tremonti took the stage at New York City’s Highline Ballroom for its second ever show with its current lineup last Wednesday night (September 12) and it was as though they had been making music together for years. The crowd was very welcoming and I was utterly blown away by not only the guitar solos that we have all come to expect from Mark Tremonti, but also by his on point vocals. It quickly became glaringly apparent that Tremonti may have found yet another band he can take to the top of the music world. As a matter of fact, one rule many people like to abide by is do not wear a shirt of the band you are about to see to its own concert, but the crowd was filled with people sporting Tremonti shirts just to emphatically proclaim their appreciation and love of the band and their support did not go unnoticed. Tremonti played with passion, power and skill, and the crowd went wild.

Although many people in the crowd thought the band would play songs from Creed, Alter Bridge, or a few covers, that was most certainly not the case. Tremonti strictly played through its debut album, All I Was, in its entirety. The show opened with the hard rock track, “Wish You Well” and the crowd was instantly hooked. I’m not sure if the audience was more impressed by the vocals, the guitar playing, or Wolfgang Van Halen playing bass. Wolfgang Van Halen is best known as the son of the legendary rock god, Eddie Van Halen, and is the current bassist for the band Van Halen. Any way you look at it, the band was impressive.

Wolfgang Van Halen, right, son of the legendary Eddie Van Halen, played bass for Tremonti at The Highline Ballroom.

Tremonti was obviously impassioned about its music. The band seemed most excited to tackle Van Halen’s favorite track “So You’re Afraid.” More impressive than the flawless solo Tremonti played during this song is the story behind Van Halen’s journey with the band. Tremonti explained that 48 hours prior to the show Van Halen was asked to join the tour, 24 hours prior he played his first show, and currently he’s playing every song on point without missing a beat. This feat is one very few musicians could have pulled off successfully.

As the band progressed through the album, the audience received little tidbits about various tracks. According to the band, “Things I’ve Seen” is its most downloaded song off of the album and the crowd seemed to reflect that. The audience went a bit crazy during this tune; girls were climbing on shoulders and everyone seemed to be singing. As the night progressed the band just got better and better. There was only one song Tremonti chose to speak about the meaning of though, the song “Doesn’t Matter.” He explained that it is important to give up the hatred. The final song of the set was “Decay.” Then, it was encore time.

The band left the stage just to come back to the open arms of the crowd that included members of the band, Sevendust. Surprisingly, the first song of the encore was, as Tremonti explains, the ballad of the album, “New Way Out.” It seemed as though the hard rock crowd appreciated the ballad however, because so many people were singing the words and swaying to the beat. Sadly the night was coming to a close. Lastly the band played its big hit, “Brains.” Not one person was standing still at this point; there were even crowd members head banging in the balcony.

This concert was a serious rock show that topped so many rock shows of the past. Tremonti proved two very important points at this show. First and foremost, Mark Tremonti is no back-up vocalist; he is an extremely talented frontman who can play sick guitar solos as well as sing. Secondly the band proved that Tremonti is no side-project. It is a fully-fledged rock band that commands attention.

Set List:
Wish You Well
All I Was
You Waste Your Time
Giving Up
Leave It Alone
Proof
So You’re Afraid
The Things I’ve Seen
Doesn’t Matter
Decay

Encore:
New Way Out
Brains