Wow, so where do I even begin with this one. I guess I will just have to begin at the beginning and hope that all of you can make a decent mental picture from the words that I am about to deliver because this managed to even throw my very open musical mind for a loop. I’ve enjoyed the band Queensryche since I first caught them as an opener for KISS’ “Animalize” tour back in 1984 and while it took me until the bands return with Iron Maiden for their “Powerslave” run I have stood by them with album after album even though at times they have left me scratching my head with the output. That brings us to 2010 and the show I am reporting on. It’s pretty safe to say that the last thing people associate with the band Queensryche is the seductive art of burlesque but despite that viewpoint, here we were at the Queensryche Cabaret concert. It was a show that had posters that broadcast its being an “Adults Only” gig that would feature Go-Go and Burlesque dancers, aerialists, contortionists, professional ballet dancers and drag queens. Yes, you did read that last one correct and I did not make a typo. Clearly we were in for something different but still something that I hoped would be entertaining. The show begins with Geoff Tate reflecting on a couch that looked like lips and during this he is flanked by a Go-Go dancer and a Drag Queen and from here he seems to be setting up the tale that will unfold over the course of the night.
The band soon makes their entrance and of course was sounding as good as ever even though the now known set list being done was on a “tricky” side for most of the fans. When I say tricky I mean that this particular performance was featuring a number of songs that seldom get any attention during a Queensryche show, and while there would be some tunes that are considered their staples most of the ones being delivered were tunes that found members of the audience saying “really, you’re playing this one instead of song X?”. Clearly one can never accuse QR of being afraid to change up their game. A couple of numbers in the band hit us with “I Am I” from “Promised Land” and I always enjoyed that one. The visuals on the stage found Tate being hounded by members of the media with cell phones and cameras. The whole thing was proving to be very Broadway and here we were at only the third song. Tate was sporting a shaved head this time around and perhaps he was channeling his inner Yul Brenner for this kind of display while no longer new guitarist Parker Lundgren had let his own hair grow. He was working well with The Whip for sure and appeared to be a solid replacement for Mike Stone who left the lineup a few years ago. Eddie Jackson seemed comfortable way in the back under Scott Rockenfield’s massive drum set and I felt that this was probably the largest set I have seen him using in concert in a long time. Also it was one of the most impressive and surely set the drum gear heads over the moon. So back to the concert which was getting stranger and yet more interesting as the night went on.
A short break came after a handful of tunes and this seemed to be allowing for set and costume changes. That made sense since this was already a very elaborate visual experience. During the break, some of the drag queens walked among the crowd doing their thing and it was funny to observe the discomfort that this caused in some of their fans. Upon the bands return the very interesting and sometimes off putting nature of the show continued. One of the postings about the show said how this was an “Adults Only” experience but I had to admit that nothing was really going on that was too risqué. Yes some of the dancers wore pasties over their breasts to have this not come off as a stripper show and outside of some small bikinis there was nothing really bad to speak of. Some of the other interesting visuals were a the tribal Indian dance being done by a real deal representative of that culture and the bringing up from the audience an innocent victim who would be molested by the ladies and drag queens. It was amusing. We found Tate sitting with a psychiatrist and then acting as carnival grand master. There was truly a lot to absorb. The music was tight as expected and the guys delivered about three numbers from “Tribe” and even two from the ill-received “Q2K”. I think only one tune apiece came from “Hear In The Now Frontier” and “Promised Land” but I might be mistaken. It was easy to see how nothing came from either of the “Mindcrime” releases and that was fine with me since each had been done to death and deserved a break. There was also nothing represented from their “American Soldier” or “Take Cover” release. I took this presentation for what it was, and that was as a unique perspective from the mind of Geoff Tate that let him utilize a number of tunes that we don’t often hear in a very different setting from a conventional show. Yes some fans were mad at the selections and screamed for “Mindcrime” stuff again and again but the band has been around for over twenty five years now and has eleven albums to visit. People have to realize and accept that not every group is willing to be homage to their own past. I will agree that some parts were hard to swallow but this was theatre more than it was concert. To view this as a Metal show was to be delusional. I was just taking the whole thing in as some kind of wild psychedelic dream sequence and story. The complainers were hopefully satisfied by the selections from “Empire” and if not, well, I am not sure what to tell you. I will admit that I felt this show should have been a seated one based on its style and that the labeling of “Adults Only” kept a lot of the younger fans away and found me watching the smallest crowd ever assembled for a Queensryche show. It was not the capacity crowd that I am used to mingling about with at their shows that was for sure.
As the night moved closer to its finale a tape was queued up for “Life Is A Cabaret” sung by Louis Armstrong and the whole stage filled with pretty much everyone who was a part of the show before Geoff leads us all into “Empire” and apparently the close of the night. I observed a stage set and saw another legacy classic listed but they would not perform it tonight. I guess they ran too close to curfew. Since the band has been prone to release special events that they have done on DVD one would have to assume and of course hope that this presentation will find its way onto DVD sometime in the near future. As mentioned earlier, they are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of “Empire” and a special deluxe edition is coming out in the middle of September on Capitol Records/EMI Music. Considering how PiercingMetal.com has reviewed the entire catalog of Queensryche thus far, our readers can count on a review of the special edition as well and most likely the eventual DVD of this “unique” performance whenever it should make an appearance. This show would lead me to the next appearance of Apocalyptica and that is a band that always delivers in concert as well. Stay tuned.
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Official Web Site: www.queensryche.com
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