© George Pennock
Photos by George Pennock
Live Gig Review by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
I first crossed paths with Queensryche in 1984 when their debut album the Warning had just been released.When the Dio Last in Line tour rolled into my hometown of Antrim Queensryche were the tour support. Unfortunately they didn’t receive a great response that time from the partisan Northern Ireland rock audience. Few years later Queensryche released their massive globally successful”Operation Mindcrime”album and played Belfast in a headline capacity. Also touring Belfast on the Empire tour they were truly riding the crest of the musical wave at the time. Although I parted company with their music following the Rage For order album, I managed to catch the band live again many years later in 2011 at the High Voltage Festival in London. Unfortunately my keen anticipation was blunted by an appalling sound system and an extremely strange set selection by the band that day. Fast forward two years and following an acrimonious and bitter split Queensryche have partied company with original singer Geoff Tate. https://myglobalmind.com/2013/07/09/exclusive-interview-with-geoff-tate-vocals-queensryche/ and there are now two versions of the band currently touring. Last Friday I caught up with the remaining original Queensryche members with new singer former Crimson Glory man Todd La Torre as they played their first show on Irish shores in over twenty years. I had an opportunity to chat to the band prior to the show, and their genuine enthusiasm was very apparent.
This was my first visit to the Button Factory as a concert venue and my initial reaction was that it would have better relocated to a larger venue. The capacity audience were packed tightly and it did make for quite an unpleasant experience at times. I’m no stranger to rock gigs over the years but it certainly raised some serious health and safety issues over the course of the evening. Almost on the given start time of 8.45 lights dimmed and band members took their appointed stage positions. All eyes were on front man Todd, as undoubtedly he had some huge vocal shoes to fill. Opening number kicked in with an old classic from their debut EP and the title track”Queen of the Reich”Doubts, what doubts ? As soon as he opened his mouth these were smashed right out of the ballpark. What an incredible vocalist. Although I had limited knowledge of his previous musical history with Crimson Glory, the singing and range were quite simply incredible.
The tour was billed as a “Return to History”, this was particularly appealing as it meant that my favored debut “The Warning”album got pride of place in the set. Many tracks getting a live showing that previously I had never heard the band play before. The set was a carefully considered blend of old flavored with a couple of new numbers. The audience was mainly made up of die hard fans who despite the supposed rarity value of the songs, sang along with every lyric right back to the band. The band seemed genuinely enthused with the audience response that they received. They were clearly relishing performing to an enthusiastic audience without the associated crap and baggage of their former singer. Michael Wilton’s solos showed finesse, feeling and supreme talent. His guitar foil in Parker Lundgren must also be commended as he was allowed to shine and become more of an integral part of the Queensryche sound. Eddie Jackson was quiet and unassuming with the longest headstock on any bass guitar that I have ever seen. The rhythm being laid down by Scott Rockenfield at the back, was tight, efficient and effective. The small venue did give me to witness up close just what a great and unique drumming talent Scott truly is-something that had never really come across on the bands studio recordings.
Regarding the stage set, I do have to say that it was truly a case of back to basics with a minimalist light show and band backdrop. I guess that the band instead wanted the audience to focus on the music and not just the show visuals. Having won over the audience instantly including the Tate fans it was a great rock show. All the MTV hits eg “Eyes of a stranger”and “Empire kept the crowd singing along and greatly entertained..More obscure numbers like “Prophecy”and “Warning”satisfied old school fans like myself….
One thing that wasn’t particularly pleasing was the venues attitude to fans taking pictures during the show. Heavy handed security left a bitter taste in the mouth whether or not you had a photo pass or not. Our photographer and his camera were physically man handled at one point. Fortunately not sustaining any damage but the hostile and antagonistic attitude certainly sullied the nights entertainment.
In conclusion the Ryche have been rejuvenated, reinvigorated and revitalized with the introduction of Todd as singer. Like me many had their doubts regarding his integration into the band. He has taken the mantle and certainly given the band a fresh youthful injection.The band are currently on fire, and I for one eagerly anticipate seeing them perform live again. I have a feeling that the wait will not be quite so long the next time.
The remaining upcoming European tour dates are as follows:
23.10.2013 Club 202 – Budapest, Hungary
25.10.2013 Theaterfabrik – Munich, Germany
26.10.2013 Burgerhaus – Quadrath-Itchendorf Bergheim, Germany
27.10.2013 Rockfabrik – Ludwigsburg, Germany
29.10.2013 Moonwalker – Aarburg, Switzerland
30.10.2013 Stadthalle – Langen, Germany
31.10.2013 Brielpoort – Deinze, Belgium
01.11.2013 Effennaar – Eindhoven, Netherlands