Every once in a while you come across something that makes you take a step back and ask yourself, “Did I just see what I think I saw?” Monday, Sept. 19 was full of those moments as Queensryche rolled into the ol’ 423 for a night celebrating 30 years of music.
The first of which was as Rainbows are Free took to the stage. I honestly thought these guys were the techs getting the drums, guitars and mics set up, I was way off base. The “everyman” band launches into their set and lumbering onstage is a towering figure in a western shirt and cowboy hat carrying multiple cans and bottles. Again, I thought perhaps a roadie is bringing up refreshment for these guys. Once again, I was mistaken. Now realizing, that this indeed was the band, I was able to settle in and enjoy what can only be explained as a huge surprise. Norman, OK based Rainbows comes across as a Black Sabbath sound, with slow tempo, but crunching guitars. They won the 2011 "Woody Award" for "Best Metal Artist" in Oklahoma. Guitarist Richie Tarver describes their sound as "Heavy classic rock/ proto-metal with moments of droney psychedelia and groove riffage.”
RAF put together a stripped down, rocking set that, at first listen will have you wondering if that was something I could be into. It doesn’t take long to realize that in some strange way that was cool and I need to hear more. What I can also say is if you are into a throwback brand of rock/metal such as Wolfmother, this band is definitely for you.
The biggest surprise of the night was the set that Queensryche put together though. This veteran band from Seattle hasn’t lost a step in their now 30 year career.
This writer had seen them back in the early ‘90’s and at that time they were filling arenas, so there was a small amount of sadness that this band, who has sold over 20 million albums and played as a headliner for Rocklahoma 2009 is now playing a smaller venue. I truly didn’t know what to expect.
After seeing this concert, I can say firmly, those “Did I just see what I think I saw?” moments I spoke of earlier, came in waves throughout this 21 song set list and left me awestruck. Also, making me realize that it doesn’t matter the size of the venue, if there is passion in the music and a sense of connecting with your crowd you can still be a heavyweight in your craft. The fact that Queensryche played 30 years worth of material is a testament to their music, songwriting and afore mentioned passion.
Geoff Tate and company put on one of the tightest sets I have ever seen. It is one thing to here an album that has had engineers hands all over it and give the sound life through gadgetry, but being able to pull it off live is another thing entirely. Queensryche does it with ease. The harmonies, breaks and guitar solos are spot on and jaw-dropping. From the show opener “Get Started,” which lets fans know that there is still plenty left in the tank, to “I Don’t Believe In Love” (the dual guitar solo was amazing) and on to “Silent Lucidity” the chill factor was in full effect. Goosebumps crawled down my arms as Tate continued to impress with his crisp, well toned and pitched voice. His connection with the audience was nothing short of incredible, working the stage and making sure to get everyone involved. Giving the “thumbs up” several times throughout the show and bowing as if to say, “It honors us that you showed up tonight.” The night concluded with the ever epic song, “Eyes of A Stranger” from the must have disc Operation: Mindcrime and came to a climax as a wall of sound came from the stage and swept across the ballroom, much like a shockwave left behind from an A-Bomb.
Queensryche show no signs of slowing down. As they did back in the ‘90’s when I saw them they still put on a show that will have you aching for more and singing along with their songs days after the concert has ended. In this writers opinion they have only gotten better.
Edit Note: Publication was delayed on this review as a result of what the editor shall call a Rick Perry "brain freeze." Thus lost, but later found in the mix of massive email each day; staff is recommending remedial classes for organizational skill development. The publisher is not so sure he is amused.