Posted by Hunter on Mon, 14 Jul 2008.
Band line up
Eddie Jackson - Bass
Scott Rockenfield - Drums
Mike Stone - Guitar
Geoff Tate - Vocals
Michael Wilton - Guitar
Pamela Moore - Vocals
All of Operation Mindcrime's 1 and 2, back to back, with an encore of Jet City Woman, Empire and then ending with Silent Lucidity.
Long time missed from the UK, Queensryche are back! They had originally been scheduled to tour with Thin Lizzy, and had cancelled their gigs for that here in the East Midlands, and with hindsight, good! Because if they hadn't we wouldn't have been treated to the epic gig that was Operation Mindcrimes 1 and 2 performed back to back, with an impressive "Empire" encore thrown in on top.
The last Queensryche gig I went to was back in 2000 on the Q2K tour, at the rather odd venue of the Manchester Apollo. By Queensryche standards it hadn't been their best performance, so I was a little apprehensive with seeing them again at Wolverhampton, especially performing Operation Mindcrime 1 & 2.
For those of you who perhaps missed Operation Mindcrime (released May 3rd, 1988), or even the band themselves (formed in the early 80's), you have been missing out on one of the finest bands ever. Often referred to as "thinking mans metal", Queensryche cut no quarter in delivering their message.
Operation Mindcrime is essentially a concept album, featuring the story of a troubled young man who is rail-roaded into a sinister cult, and manipulated by the shadowy Dr X. It's a stark lash out at iffy cults, manipulation by those in power, drugs and hypocrisy. Rather more disturbing, is that not only was it highly relative in the 80's, it's still applicable today, and one has to wonder if society has developed at all.
The lights dim, the rumble starts and tension mounts...
"Dr. Davis, telephone please Dr. Davis, telephone please Dr. Blair, Dr. Blair, ....",
..the intro video played on, suddenly the lights flash and there they are, at last, and for what was supposed to be a seated venue the audience jumped up, you can't watch a band like Queensryche sat down!!
This wasn't the tired Queensryche that I saw in Manchester, here, and now, Wolverhampton, this was the Queensryche that I had been an avid fan of, this was the Queensryche who gave me one of the swiftest kick up the backsides to question what was going on around me in terms of government and society ever. And there was Geoff on stage, long hair and all, and the voice as solid as ever, so good to hear! And the rest of the band? Fantastic!
However what long term Queensryche fans will want to know is, Mike Stone, can he replace Chris DeGarmo? Chris DeGarmo it's fair to say was (and still is) an astonishing guitarist, with a wonderful distinctive sound that helped define the sound of the band. For Mike Stone this means he has to sound just like DeGarmo. I remember hearing of a story some time ago about the late Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, who had managed to get hold of and started to play one of Eddie Van Halen's guitars through Eddies own setup. Apparently he was crushed that he didn't sound like Eddie, but just sounded like himself. So to ask Mike Stone to play like DeGarmo, and put him in the position of playing one of their biggest selling albums infront of a notoriously selective audience, is just quite frankly, hell. How did he do? Incredible!! Admittedly there were three occasions I counted (and it doesn't help that I'm a guitarist too I guess) where there were slight errors, but not only did he play with confidence and ability, if you closed your eyes, you probably wouldn't notice the difference between Stone and DeGarmo. And this for the record is a huge dis-service to Stone, who in his own right is a phenomenal guitarist, who every so often would put his marque on the gig.
If Queensryche are to do another album, and not one of covers either, I would really like to see Stone go on to show us his style, and for the "Ryche" to perhaps give him greater influence. For as much as I'm a fan of DeGarmo, Stone is more then just an "equal" or "replacement". He has a great stage presence, a great sound, and unmistakeable "attitude".
The hype before had said "special guests". I had hoped for Dio, and maybe those expectations were a tad high, but instead we got Pamela Moore, who like Geoff, has lost none of that terrific delivery that made her mark in the music industry. She still looks great, still sounds great, and in all honesty, a vast improvement on the prospect of having the "short one" make an appearance.
What did become very apparent though were the differences in Mindcrime 1 and 2. Mindcrime 1, energetic, visionary, a story to tell. Mindcrime 2, bits of the above but perhaps more seen as a conclusion wrapping up the loose ends of the story. As an album Mindcrime 2 was very good, but somehow it couldn't quite compare to the first one, and maybe someone in the Queensryche camp realised this and put in the set list an encore featuring tracks from "Empire", such as Jet City Woman, Empire and Silent Lucidity.
Welcome back Queensryche, only next time, don't leave it so long.