I remember now. I remember how it started. Fortunately, so did Queensryche who, for an hour and forty five minutes (plus an additional fifteen minutes for a mid-concert technical delay) took their audience on a snapshot tour of Queensryche’s entire career during their show from their Thirtieth Anniversary Tour which stopped in Phoenix on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at The Foundry on First. Even if the band didn’t play your favorite song (which is like trying to pick out your favorite flavor M & M) they certainly did play at least one song from your favorite album because they played at least one song from every studio album they have ever released. From the start of the evening with “Get Started” from this year’s release Dedicated to Chaos, to the huge crowd pleasing “The Lady Wore Black,” from their self-titled debut EP, Queensryche left little doubt why they are one of metal’s more successful bands.
This tour of Queensryche is less about the visuals and more about the music. Although video screens on either side of the stage served as a backdrop to show images meant to enhance each song, it was lead singer Geoff Tate that captured the eyes of audience. He did a good job of playing to the crowd, his body language, facial expressions and voice inflection giving more meaning to the lyrics he sang than any video could. Queensryche fans demand Tate’s voice to be great and he did not disappoint. Even his shaved head look, which admittedly has been around for a while, adds a more sinister tone to the lyrics.
Although Tate commands your attention by his dominance of the stage, his fellow musicians are the unsung heroes of Queensryche. Scott Rockenfield’s drumming is often taken for granted, but spend any time watching him master his kit and you can’t help but think “damn, he’s good, really good.” Michael Wilton blazed on guitar as one might expect and bass player Eddie Jackson kept the metal groove intact all evening long. Parker Lundgren continued his solid role as “the other” lead and rhythm guitarist and Jason Ames handled keyboard, rhythm guitar and vocal duties.
The audience was certainly more old school Queensryche, as the past tour t-shirts those fortunate enough to still fit into indicated. Although heads banged to the concert’s opening songs, “Get Started,” and “Damaged,” few were mouthing the words until the band launched into “I Don’t Believe in Love,” from Operation Mindcrime. At that point all the lyrics were known and the momentum was building. Unfortunately, the night came to a screeching halt when technical problems took away Michael Wilton’s guitar and deprived the audience of his work on “My Empty Room.” The timing was unfortunate, as a fifteen minute delay held up the next song, the solemn “A Dead’s Man Words,” from American Soldier which could have proved fatal to the energy that had built up in the crowd. However, the emotions of Tate’s voice pulled the crowd back and by the time the band played “Walk in the Shadows” and “Screaming in Digital” from Rage for Order, all had been forgiven.
“The Right Side of My Mind,” from the often maligned Q2K turned into the biggest audience participation number of the night and the work of Wilton, Jackson, Lundren and Rockenfield on that song had me thinking, this is what a heavy metal band should sound like. The biggest was saved for last with Empire’s “Silent Lucidity”, complete with obligatory Bics in the air, closing the regular part of the show and Empire’s other two contributions to the night, “Jet City Woman” and “Empire,” opening the encore. The band left the audience wanting more with the finale “Eyes of a Stranger.”
There has been some worry by fans that Queensryche is turning a new direction with Dedicated to Chaos. For this night, the worry was for naught. Queensryche delivered “classic Queensryche,” however that may be defined. A quick glance at the band’s set list sheet near the front of the stage showed an inscription at the bottom, “Kick f***in’ ass.” No problem. Queensryche covered that easily.
Set List: Get Started | Damaged | I Don’t Believe in Love | Hit the Black | I’m American | A Dead Man’s Words | At 30,000 Feet | Desert Dance | Real World | NM 156 | Screaming in Digital | The Lady Wore Black | Walk In The Shadows | The Right Side of My Mind | Around the World | Silent Lucidity | Encore: Jet City Woman | Empire | Eyes of a Stranger/Anarchy-X
Article by: Ted Hansen, Mesa Classic Rock Music Examiner