Gig Reviews

Marty Friedman premiered new songs live in Tokyo

Guitar maestro Marty Friedman started a busy 2024 with two intimate shows in Tokyo. In addition to favourites from his back catalogue, he played several brand-new songs to the audience’s delight.

Marty Friedman at Cotton Club, Marunouchi, Tokyo, Japan on 15th January 2024

Having the opportunity to see Marty Friedman perform up close and personal in intimate settings is a privilege that those of us living in Tokyo have. Marty is one of the artists I have seen perform live the most. I have long ago lost count of how many gigs of Marty’s I have been at. His genre-bending performances never get boring. He always keeps things interesting. There are always new musical twists and turns and the setlist keeps evolving.

Since leaving Megadeth nearly a quarter of a century ago, Marty has been a successful solo artist. He is someone who always has fab musicians backing him up. Currently, the Marty Friedman band consists of drummer Chargeeeeee, bassist Wakazaemon and guitarist Naoki Morioka. For these two sets at the excellent Cotton Club in Tokyo, they were joined by keyboardist Mika Maruki as a special guest. Mika and Marty’s touring band members are all understood to have been part of the recording sessions for Marty’s forthcoming studio album.

The two Tokyo shows were entirely instrumental affairs. Occasionally, Marty has brought in guest vocalists on some of his gigs, but this time, he let his guitars do the talking. He opened with two terrific tracks from the 2006 album “Loudspeaker”, “Stigmata Addiction” and “Devil Take Tomorrow”. Then we got treated to a few new songs that will likely appear on the forthcoming album. They sounded terrific! The live performances of these new songs make me believe that the new album will be something very special.

Marty’s terrific cover of enka classic “Amagigoe”, originally a hit for Sayuri Ishikawa, was, as expected, a highlight of the show and we also got to hear a bit of Megadeth’s classic “Tornado of Souls”. Marty’s 2017 album “Wall of Sound” was solid and this evening we got three songs from it in the setlist: “Whiteworm”, “Self Pollution” and “Miracle”. “Ame no Bojyo Funa Uta” is another splendid Marty cover of an enka classic (originally performed by Aki Yashiro). He and the band finished the shows with “Tibet” from the 1992 album “Scenes” and “Mata Kimi ni Koishi Teru” (a Fuyumi Sakamoto cover).

This was the fabulous start of what is looking like a busy 2024 for Marty. A new album has been recorded and will be released in a few months. There are international tours and much more planned. His extensive touring and two guest appearances with Megadeth last year (in Japan and Germany) have grown and re-engaged his fanbase. It is an exciting year for Marty fans!