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Tremonti / Man The Mighty / The Raven Age / Wearing Scars http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/62/35/66/tremonti-live-review-20-1460914819.jpg Hot

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Tremonti / Man The Mighty / The Raven Age / Wearing Scars - The Ritz, Manchester (UK) - 13 December 2015

Another rainy night in Manchester, my third in seven days, and another sold out show. Mark Tremonti has released two albums so far under his own band's name and this short UK tour will be his last before he heads back to the States and into the studio in early 2016 to begin work on a new Alter Bridge album.

Tonight's four band bill begins with Wearing Scars. I was fortunate to review their debut release 'A Thousand Words' earlier in the year and was highly impressed with the mature quality of the material. With only thirty minutes at their disposal, it was important to make an impact and despite something of a muddy mix, they did just that. 'Become Numb', 'A Last Goodbye' and 'Wounded' highlighted the strong writing ethos and the style was a perfect blend of Metal and melody. Lead guitarist Andy James got plenty of opportunities to display his obvious skills whilst vocalist Chris Clancy worked the audience nicely, even though he could have benefited from more power. Sound issues aside, I was delighted they brought their set to a conclusion with the glorious 'Butterfly', one of my favourite songs from the last twelve months.

The Raven Age are a Melodic Metal band from London and when they took to the stage there was a noticeable improvement in the sound and every element had greater clarity. They were formed over six years ago by guitarists Dan Wright and George Harris (son of Iron Maiden's Steve) and have so far released an EP, to critical acclaim. The musical style is primarily Traditional Metal with some taped Industrial embellishments that enhance rather than dominate the music. They seemed to be quite well known by the crowd and every song was received warmly. Vocalist Michael Burrough had an easy going manner and connected well with audience; he encouraged everyone to join in at every opportunity. With just a thirty minute time slot, it was a case of quality over quantity and I would certainly be interested in catching them again.

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By the time Chicago-based Modern Rockers Man The Mighty made their entrance the room was packed. I even ventured upstairs but it was three deep around the balcony. Fortunately, there was room for a little one at the bar so I stayed there for a while. I watched half the thirty-five minute set before heading downstairs to the merchandise area. Unfortunately, yet again, the sound was disappointing. The vocals needed pushing forward, yet there was decent separation between the guitars, bass and drums. The material didn't have much of an identity, but it was far from inoffensive. With just one album's worth of songs ('I Am Icarus') to choose from, I was again surprised just how popular they were. A girl next to me who changed t-shirts proved to be a bit of a distraction and unfortunately the song titles passed me by. They were good enough to make me track down the album however.

I took my place in the photo pit for the first three songs of the Tremonti set and must have said "excuse me" a hundred times on my way through – it was that busy. 'Cauterize' got things under way and, in between snapping and dodging the other press people with cameras, I watched and marvelled at just how naturally Mark Tremonti has taken on the role of a front-man. For a lead guitarist his singing is far better than it has a right to be and he managed to multi-task with ease. 'You Waste Your Time' and 'All I Was' followed without hesitation and though (again) the vocals could not compete with the guitars, bass and drums, I was totally familiar with every song so managed to sing along and snap away at the same time. I retreated to the back of the hall for the rest of the set and grabbed a beer on the way to watch in comfort. Speaking to Mark Tremonti during the afternoon, he commented on the fact he was still uncomfortable with his between song banter but to me it mattered little when the songs were so good and performed so well. He was ably supported by second guitarist Eric Friedman, drummer Garret Whitlock and bass player Tanner Keegan and they all played with great energy and enthusiasm. Keegan was actually playing on this tour due to Wolfgang Van Halen's other commitments. Mark Tremonti riffed and soloed like a man possessed and his facial efforts mirrored his efforts. The sixteen song set pulled in songs from both releases and there was no need to delve into the Creed or Alter Bridge back catalogue. Power and passion made comfortable bed fellows tonight and though proceedings may have been too intense for some Fireworks/Rocktopia readers and writers, it was what a live show is all about. No flashy theatrics, just good old-fashioned Rock music and a nice sweaty atmosphere and as I was looking through the photographs during the train journey home, the songs were still playing in my head.

Dave Bott

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