Queensryche in Tucson
|Event:||Queensrÿche: American Soldier Tour|
While I am not a long time fan of the band, my mighty Metalstorm connections* afforded me the opportunity to see - and review - Queensryche on their stop here in the Old Pueblo. My friend, and long-time fan of the Seattle Six, Ding, played wing man for the evening.
Right off the bat, Queensryche have been doing this for a looooong time. More than 25 years now. They are professionals and ply their craft quite well. They know what the audience wants, and they know how to deliver.
Tonight's performance, and this tour, have no opening act, just two hours of the headliners, broken down into three suites. The first, featuring six songs from their 1986 release, Rage For Order, then moving to this year's American Soldier and finally closing out with seven or eight tracks from 1990's Empire.
While a quarter century of belting out tunes has taken a slight toll on his voice, and he might not be as spry onstage as he used to be, Geoff Tate sings his ass off. Not just a singer, he's part thespian on stage as well, gesturing along to the lyrics of the songs. He saunters, struts, and dances on stage, getting the crowd into the action and playing the role one would expect from such an experienced front man. He intermittently serves as host for the evening, as well, taking over the mic and adopting the role of an event emcee or host while the band take a quick break.
The Rage For Order suite starts the evening off in a rocking mood, with rousing renditions of "I Dream In Infrared" and "Walk In The Shadows." The twin guitar attack of Queensryche lifer Michael Wilton and new young gun, Parker Lundgren are particularly impressive during their first of many harmonized solos.
The launching of the American Soldier portion of the evening's festivities begins with the not-so-subtle step of having a man roughly the same size and body mass as the Incredible Hulk, clad in desert camo fatigues, sleeves ripped off, tattooed arms, and Queensryche insignia on the lapel announcing to the crowd "I'm gonna tell you what's up!" and "Welcome to the show!", kicking off "Sliver", the opening track to this year's release. Tate took a moment to explain the recording process for the album, thanking those veteran's present (you're welcome, Geoff.), before the band kicked in to "Killer" and "If I Were King." Prior to launching in to the Alice In Chain's-esque "Dead Man's Words", Tate explained the origins of the song - making it even more poignant:
"The United States Marine Corps have a saying, 'No man left behind.' During the Gulf War in the early 90's, there was a Marine who was wounded in battle, a hundred miles behind the lines. He managed to radio for help, and his call was received by base camp. Three Marines who did not know the man volunteered to bring him back and crossed 100 miles of desert. Only one man returned."
Not to let up, the mood continued with the next track, when his daughter, Emily, joined the band on stage for "Home Again" in a touching moment which melted even the most bittercold of hearts. While most of the crowd was clearly there for the older material, I don't think any song garnered the applause that "Home Again" did. And rightfully so.
The mood continued as the American Soldier suite ended with another song particularly poignant to the Tate household, "The Voice", which featured the audio clips of Geoff's father's experiences in Korea and Vietnam.
The new tracks sounded pretty good live and were even more evocative with the images of conflict or soldiers and their families flashing on the screen in the background and Tate's explanations.
While I like the new album for the concept, and the crowd was enjoying the show, the crowd was perhaps showing the effects of the heavy material, particularly the powerful trio of tracks to close out the suite, "Best I Can" could not possibly have come at a better time. The crowd responded in spirited faction, singing in unison "I won't back down!" Frankly whoever set up the play order for the gig deserves a big pat on the back and the beverage of their choice for the arrangement, as "Best I Can" reinvigorated the crowd, and perhaps the band, heading in to the home stretch of the show.
Tate took the time for one last soliloquy prior to the lead in to "The Thin Line", (pardon the pun), waxing poetic of his love of cassettes and the evolution of the recording industry from cumbersome, home-based, vinyl to the mobile cassette to modern mp3 player. The crowd was quite vocal in support of their love for vinyl, to the chagrin of Tate and much to the chagrin of yours truly. This was the first metal show in, oh, forever, that I don't think I helped represent the upper 5% of the average age of the audience. Tate also mused on the simpler times when the album was released - "There was a lot less to worry about then, it seemed. Just pop the Queensryche tape in the car stereo and drive", which I found pretty amusing given that Empire pretty much served as the soundtrack for a spur of the moment, three day weekend midnight road trip with some Navy friends of mine to the wonderful city of New Orleans back in the day. (I will waste no more of your time, dear reader, with additional information on that tangent - the details of that weekend are not fit for publication on the interweb.)
The Empire suite continued, including "Hand on Heart", "Is Anybody Listening", "Silent Lucidity", and "Jet City Woman" before the band took a breather to return for the encore and closing track of the evening, "Empire".
Frankly, they rocked. While there were minor things that one could quibble over - such as "100 Mile Stare" not making the set list for the American Soldier suite, or the lack of anything off of their greatest album, Operation Mindcrime. Geoff frequently had to duck off stage after songs - presumably for throat lozenges… (Ding's biggest criticism is in checking set lists from prior stops on the tour, the band had been closing with "Take Hold Of The Flame" - which we didn't get, which he found disappointing.) But that's just sniping. The band played a fantastic set, with 70% of the list coming from their strong back catalog. Hell, they even were selling Empire and Rage For Order era tour shirts at the merch stand. And for every moment were Tate's voice might not have soared like it used to, he had three to four moments where he delivered in powerful fashion.
If you are a fan of the Ryche, and they are coming to your neck of the woods, go catch them.
* Special thanks to Deborah Brosseau from Spinner PR who made this review possible.
Photos courtesy of Ding's iPhone.
Walk in the Shadows
Screaming in Digital
I Dream in Infrared
I Will Remember
American Soldier Suite
If I were King
Dead Man's Words
Best I Can
The Thin Line
Hand On Heart
Jet City Woman
||Written on 05.06.2009 by BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.|
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