Mark Tremonti Guitar/Songwriting Clinic - Review (@Leipzig 2020)

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Blackbird
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Mark Tremonti Guitar/Songwriting Clinic - Review (@Leipzig 2020)

Postby Blackbird » Sat Nov 23, 2019 12:01 pm

Introduction
This is going to be an in-depth review of the guitar/songwriting clinc that is sold as a VIP package during the 2020 UK/Europe tour. It'll probably contain a lot more information than anybody needs, but I'll try to structure it so that everybody who's interested can pick out the pieces that are relevant for them. I'll also add a TL;DR (too long; didn't read) at the bottom containing the most important stuff in case anybody is thinking about buying this package but would like some more details to decide whether it's worth it (spoiler: it totally is).

Background
My best friend and I, after attending around 10 AB concerts since 2010, thought that it would be time for a special (and probably one-time) experience this year. We took a week off work, booked tickets for three concerts (Hamburg on Tuesday, Berlin on Wednesday, Leipzig on Friday), and decided to buy a VIP package for the first time ever (for any band). We were always reluctant to buy Meet & Greet because we figured there wouldn't be much time to talk to the band and have a really personal experience, especially because we'd already met all of them several times after concerts from 2010 to 2014 (when the venues they played in were small enough that you could wait for them after the show by the back entrance) where there was actually more time to talk to them and take pictures. And while none of us are good guiar players by any means, the Guitar/Songwriting Clinic sounded like it could provide a lot more value for our money (specifically the songwriting part). Leipzig was the only concert that we were going to attend without any additional friends, so that's what we chose to book.

Arrival
Doors opened at 6, but we had to be there at 1:15 for registration. Registration for Meet & Greet was half an our later, but by 1:15 there were already about 30 or 40 people in front of the doors (most of them for M&G, Mark's clinic was only attended by 7 or 8 people including us). VIP host Helen welcomed us, did the registration and explained the schedule for the rest of the day. According to others we met that already attended M&Gs or clinics in the past, they mixed up a lot this year because of increasing attendance numbers. This includes that, unlike before, Clinic attendees are no longer "smuggled" into the M&G because the Clinic is now the last item on the agenda before the actual concert (which I think is perfectly fine because you're already getting so much more out of it than out of the M&G).

The agenda was as follows:

- Introduction to Mark, short rig demonstration on stage
- Soundcheck
- M&G
- Guitar/Songwriting Clinic

Introduction/Rig Demonstration
Relatively shortly after registration, we were lead into the venue, dropped off our stuff and entered the concert hall where people were busy setting up everything for the gig. We had to wait a little bit until Mark was entering the stage where we joined him and shook his hand before he started to talk about the equipment he's using during this tour, including playing some riffs/licks to demonstrate the sound. I don't have much knowledge about guitar tech stuff, so I didn't understand most of the stuff he was saying. Afterwards, we were allowed to take pictures with Mark and left the stage again. This whole part was pretty short, about five minutes.

Soundcheck
After the introduction, we left the building again and had to wait for about 30 minutes for the soundcheck. Apparently, the band wanted to do a 20 minute soundcheck without attention (where they played Dying Light) before we could attend another 20 minutes. They played Cry Of Achilles, Wouldn't You Rather and Watch Over You (and I think I forgot another track, but it wasn't anything special that wasn't on the setlist), mostly instrumental because Myles only sang a few lines. There was a bit of fan interaction by Myles, but only very sparsely. All in all, this part was a bit disappointing because I was hoping for them to play something they wouldn't play later anyway.

Guitar/Songwriting Clinic
Another period of waiting followed after the soundcheck where the M&G took place. Leipzig in general was a great venue for VIP packages because we stayed in an inner courtyard where we could already buy something to eat and drink to not starve to death. We were then again lead into the venue to a backstage room where Mark was already waiting for us.

I won't talk about specific details of what Mark said, e.g. during the Guitar clinic part, by the way, because I don't think that's the purpose of an experience report.

He started with the guitar playing part, gave us some advice on how he improves as a guitar player, played some AB solos and encouraged us to ask him about any details in these solos that we would like him to talk about a bit more. He would then slowly go through this part, show us how he transitions between single notes and so on. Like I already said, I'm not a huge guitar player and I didn't even bring a guitar, but I think a lot of the things he said, especially in the first part, were really helpful.

After the solos, he started talking about songwriting and repeated what I'd already read in an interview - that he didn't really want to do the whole songwriting part, but that it was already out for sale when he complained about it. I'm really glad it was because this part was incredibly amazing. Mark didn't simply give us some casual tips on songwriting like I basically expected; he showed us his setup for songwriting, i.e. what software he's using and what he does to organise the billions of ideas he has. He then did something I wouldn't have expected him to do whatsoever: He showed us some samples that he recorded since Walk The Sky, and not only some throwaway ones, but actually samples that he labeled as good enough to potentially turn them into songs, complete with him singing nonsense over it falsetto. I was completely taken off-guard by this because that's basically the musical equivalent to stripping naked in front of an audience, and it was what made this experience incredibly personal and intimate for me. Mark really opened up to us and was as authentic as a person can be, which only increased the respect I have for him.

After showing us his samples, he talked a lot about how he's doing songwriting in general, how he avoids recording stuff that sounds like it hasn't been done before a hundred times, and a lot of other things in between. The Clinic was originally planned to last an hour, but Mark overran for 30 minutes to a point where Helen had to come in twice to remind him that the time was over. We then had a final opportunity to quickly talk to him before we had to leave the venue.

During this whole time, we could always ask questions or say whatever we had in mind. Mark was answering everything as best as he could, was open to comments and very thankful when we told him how amazing the stuff he showed us was. He even recorded two of the melodies that he developed while showing us how he writes songs, something he apparently does very often during these Clinics.

After the Clinic, we were allowed to leave the venue to bring our stuff back to our cars. Helen made sure we could re-enter afterwards to get into the early entry queue. We left the building at about 5, so there was only one hour left before doors opened.

Conclusion
We planned for this to be a one-time experience, but are seriously thinking about buying the Clinic again when AB comes to Germany next time. I think that describes how amazing it was. I can't really describe how thankful I am for how much Mark opened up to us and I think that's something really, really unique and special. Unlike the guys who did the M&G, we didn't meet the whole band (as in being able to shake their hands and take photos with them), but we got to know Mark in a way that could never be done in a M&G.

So, in short: 10/10, would do it again.

TL;DR
- No sneeky M&G for Clinic buyers this year
- We took a picture with Mark on stage
- Mark talked a bit about his live setup and plays some riffs
- 20 minutes of soundcheck
- We could ask Mark all kinds of questions about guitar playing and songwriting
- Mark showed us some actual samples that he recorded since Walk The Sky
- The songwriting part was a lot longer than the guitar playing part, but Mark also overran for 30 minutes
- The whole experience was incredibly personal
- Mark is fucking awesome

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abw1987
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Re: Mark Tremonti Guitar/Songwriting Clinic - Review (@Leipzig 2020)

Postby abw1987 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:58 pm

Awesome rundown! Thanks for sharing!!

I really hope they come back around to Philly next year. I need to attend this clinic! So cool to hear how much detail Mark provides about his songwriting methodology.


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