HomeMusicMarty Friedman Live! A Journey Through The Crossroads!

Marty Friedman Live! A Journey Through The Crossroads!

Marty Friedman
Photo Credit: Maria DeBiassi

Throughout the course of music history, the songwriters who undoubtedly have the strongest impact are those who exhibit zero fear and tap into this perspicacious mindset that completely blocks out the outside world, therefore allowing them to unleash what could only be described as true musical freedom, and virtuoso guitarist Marty Friedman is the perfect embodiment of this incredibly rare level of exceptional artistry.

Those who attended Marty Friedman’s recent show at the Crossroads in Garwood, New Jersey on February 23, 2019 witnessed a transcendent performance that stretched beyond the ethereal boundaries of a live stage; this was a truly historic live-action documentation of Friedman’s enduring excellence as a musical anomaly and beloved innovator of the highest echelon.

I recently spoke with Marty Friedman about this past tour, which celebrated the release of his live album, One Bad M.F. Live!!!. Friedman specifically shared a quote that I felt embodied the mindset, attitude, and aura of this performance. He said, “It’s definitely not a recital where it’s like, “Here’s the music we’re going to play for you.” It’s nothing like that. It’s like, this is what we plan to do but we’re going to change it up on you, and we’re going to throw you some curveballs along the way.”

Personifying the term once-in-a-lifetime, this set contained unlimited displays of tear-worthy musicianship, and we genuinely witnessed a Rage Against The Machine onslaught of relentless body movement combined with Iron Maiden style band-audience harmonization, along the lines of “Fear of the Dark.”

Case in point, the stage itself was the perfect height and platform, only a few feet higher than the venue floor itself. The band stood directly face-to-face with their fans, which created this magical aura that immediately transformed this crowd in Garwood, New Jersey into one much more reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro. As this powerhouse four-piece tore through their rendition of “Amagi Goe,” Friedman fed off the crowd’s jubilant excitement and proceeded to bend the living hell out of his guitar strings during the song’s conclusion; an impromptu moment of unreal artistry, which caused an immense uproar each time his bends reached a higher stratosphere.

Afterwards, in what has become a live ritual for the band, they proceeded to conduct their own prayer (non-religious) where they huddled alongside one-another, as their drummer Chargeeee delivered passionate words of encouragement in Japanese. One cannot discount the infinite goodwill, vibes, and energy this moment created, and how it set the tone for what transpired throughout the night. Going off the crowd’s volume level immediately afterwards, there was this pure gleam of excitement in each musician’s eyes and everyone who stood nearby could feel it, they were truly blown away by what this audience had brought to the table.

As they proceeded to kick into the back-to-back attack of “Street Demon” and “Elixir,” they played with such invincible levels of blissful aggression and melodic precision; this in-your-face thrash-metal onslaught where they commandeered every square inch of the stage with the unforgiving determination and hunger an unknown, upcoming band.

This fact needs be celebrated, the highest possible kudos in the world belongs to the entire group, which includes drummer Chargeeee, bassist Kiyoshi, and guitarist Jordan Ziff. It makes me very proud to say, Marty Friedman’s band is one of the most captivating, breathtaking, and otherworldly charismatic groups across the entire landscape of modern metal. To quote Friedman from our recent conversation, “I’ve had this same band since Inferno and it just keeps getting better and better.”

Over the years, I’ve covered some unbelievable bass players and straight up, I’ve never heard someone hone such an unorthodox, virtuosic style quite like Kiyoshi. As the band’s “Mutation Medley” began, she ripped into this distorted, avant-garde bass solo in the vein of Cliff Burton before smoothly transitioning into ‘70’s style funk-driven rhythms, which eventually capped off with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Think about it, from the outside looking in, what were the chances this crowd would loudly sing, “Ma ma se, ma ma sa / Ma ma coo sa?” The rest of the band joined along for “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” which caused the fans to go ballistic, and it goes to show how all styles are welcome in Marty Friedman’s band and catalog.

In what I considered to be one of the most awe-inspiring moments of the night, Friedman paid tribute to his former Cacophony bandmate Jason Becker and performed “For A Friend,” which served as a prime snapshot of Friedman’s otherworldly compositional skills. This performance was decorated with such blissful note expression and his vibrato made every note majestically echo throughout the entire room. To properly surmise the classiness of this tribute, Friedman took a few minutes to his express his endless gratitude for Becker’s love, brotherhood, and being an unbelievable source of inspiration, especially in the way he continues to musically persevere while dealing with ALS.

Alongside his current bandmate – and someone who I truly believe embodies the youthful spirit and diverse skillset of Jason Becker – guitarist Jordan Ziff, they performed the opening section of Cacophony’s “Ninja.” For any young guitarist out there, this performance needs to be experienced in-person; the harmonized arpeggios and Olympian-like displays of melodic classicality sent a wind-chill of goosebumps across the venue. For longtime fans of Cacophony, it was such a wonderful sight to see Friedman hone such a strong bond with Ziff. Their ability to play off one-another and complement each other’s individual styles felt like the second coming of Cacophony.

On the topic of embracing classic material, there’s very few sights in this world as breathtakingly surreal as Marty Friedman playing a Jackson Kelly and tearing through the guitar solo of “Tornado of Souls.” I cannot overstate the thrillride and gasps that I felt around me from other fans, as he straight up took the climatic essense of that iconic solo into another dimension of otherworldly.

And the beauty of Friedman’s journey, he is currently standing stronger than ever from a creative standpoint. Imagine if groundbreaking athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant could perform at their peak levels and continuously master their craft for over 30 years, and better yet, this isn’t a fictional scenario for Marty Friedman, it’s reality.

As a testament to his ability to continuously push the threshold of his guitar playing into unprecedented heights, immediately after “Tornado of Souls,” he kicked in the garguatan, metallic portrait known as “Whiteworm.” First off, the unforgiving, drop-tuned heaviness of the main riff slams like vintage Korn, and in a live setting, this song is even more enthralling, as the band effortlessly (but very difficult, nonetheless) transitions from jazz-driven rhythms into Mozart-levels of dramatic classiciality and emotionally prestige motifs.

This setlist primarily drew from Marty Friedman’s catalog over the past fifteen-years, including his 2017 masterpiece Wall of Sound, and I’ve rarely ever seen a crowd respond with this much sustained passion and roaring enthusiasm, which I believe unequivocally signifies the sublime brilliance of his recent material.

And this band’s unrelenting ferocity that I’ve spoken so highly about, it was taken to the utmost level by their drummer Chargeeee. Let this be known, Chargeeee is one of the most insanely talented, inspiringly charismatic, unbelievably fun, and truly one of the coolest drummers in the entire world. Again, I’ve seen some unreal drummers over the years, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen someone possess his level of endurance. I cannot overstate the level of intensity in his approach, and it was jaw-dropping to see someone hit the drums so insanely hard for nearly two-hours; and meanwhile, play such a diverse amount of material that embraces dynamic tonalities and progressive time changes. The ultimate compliment I could possibly give, Chargeeee is someone who truly loves playing the drums and performing for the fans with every ounce of passion in his heart, that it truly makes the world feel like such a better place.

On the topic of inspirational, one of the most captivating aspects of Marty Friedman’ story is his fearlessness and how it’s guided to him to the highest levels of success in Japan’s domestic music scene. This set also featured material from his international releases, including Bad D.N.A. and Tokyo Jukebox. The band concluded their set with their cover of ikimonogakari’s “Kaeritakunattayo,” which invoked the prime emotional innocence, virtuosic guitar solos, and uplifting sense of hope that is paramount to Marty Friedman’s core sound. From my perspective, this song embodied Marty’s attitude and musical autobiography to the fullest, which is to embrace life, let it possibly take you anywhere in this world, and throw everything you have into making your passion a reality. And most importantly, always continue to honor that craft by embracing the superunknown.

On behalf of this entire crowd, we were beyond fortunate enough to witness one of the greatest displays of artistic brilliance, a masterpiece in the truest sense of the term, that many of us might ever see. If One Bad M.F. Live!!! is the audio component that documents this career-defining era of Marty Friedman’s journey, I wish this night was documented for the visual component, so it could accurately be titled, “One Insane M.F. Concert Live!!!

Anthony Toto
Anthony Totohttps://pathbrite.com/AnthonyMToto/profile
Anthony Toto is a senior writer and social media manager for The Pop Break. Works in the music industry and interviews prominent artists, bands, and musicians. Longtime guitarist, Rutgers Graduate, and wholeheartedly believes in the ethereal power of music.

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