Queensryche @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (5/16/2009)

Logo - Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 5/16/2009
Label: Rhino Entertainment

To celebrate the release of their new album “American Soldier”, Queensryche had returned to New York City for another performance at The Nokia Theatre in Times Square. When I sit back and think about my experiences with the band at this particular venue, I am starting to feel that I have seen them perform here almost as much as I have seen the band Into Eternity perform at various places all around the city and if you understand the reference then you will know that I mean its been quite a few times. In some sense it is almost as if the legendary Queensryche are the venues house band and in the end it’s a welcome thing since every show is loaded with surprises. Having been an almost yearly event for the Hard Rock and Metal fans of the region the Queensryche shows have been keeping things interesting by focusing on a particular album or theme with each go round. We once saw them performing the two “Mindcrime” releases back to back and on another occasion they had offered up a night of rarities and cover versions blended in with some of their standard classics. I had to say that this was much better than those bands who stick to a particular set list for a couple of tours with only minor changes. Tonight’s festivities would not only be paying attention to the new album but would also wisely offer up extended suites that presented both the “Rage For Order” and “Empire” albums as well. This would amount to a Metal show with three distinct parts and based on this we broke our thoughts up into sections as well to better transfer the vibe of the night.

“Rage For Order” Suite: The band would open up with the “Rage For Order” material and I was not complaining since the larger part of this release has been too long avoided by the band in the concert setting. Yes we get a tune here and there every once in awhile, but how nice it was to have a proper focus on it. The first tune would be “Neue Regal” but it was bombastic renditions of “Screaming In Digital”, “I Dream In Infra Red” and “Walk In The Shadows” that did it for me and also seemed to have the audience responding in kind. They would leave out “Close To You” but that’s ok since it was given some life back during the bands Rarities concert. I guess they could have slipped it in the set list again but alas they would not. This was an excellent idea to do guys and one that was quite appreciated by the fans in the venue this evening.

“American Soldier” Suite: There was no official “break” in the set more than a slight pause and then it was onto “American Soldier” which started with a bang as A.J. Fratto (a real US Marine) came onstage to rouse the audience up for the opening track of “Sliver”. He is also featured on the album and if you were not paying attention in the audience he definitely sparked you back into the proper frame of concert going mind. As a release “American Soldier” is an interesting animal. The concept and idea are to be applauded but some folks had mentioned that the groove of the recording is too slow and not lively enough but lucky us as the material comes off much stronger when being executed on the stage. Without going into too much detail about the album, Tate focused on this particular project based on conversations that began with his Father and life in the military. He then extended his focus on other enlisted men and compiled the stories for a truly unique piece of music. During the show he would explain this to the audience. “If I Were King” is one of the recordings best offerings as is “Man Down” and each of them went over rather well but the true poignant moment of the show was when Tate’s 10 year old daughter Emily joined him onstage to sing “Home Again”. The song paints a picture of a soldier’s daughter’s letter to her Father and his responses back to her. As I looked around I noticed that some folks had watery eyes during this one, and I had to say that the young Miss Tate did a fantastic job with this one and clearly made her singer Dad very proud of her tonight. Perhaps one day we shall find the young miss fronting a band of her own. Only time will tell.

“Empire” Suite: The focus on “Empire” was something that I was also looking forward to because I had hoped that it would bring back out into the light those long forgotten tracks that really should have been part of the bands live set and yet were not for some reason. They instantly made my day by starting this segment off with “Best I Can” which is my clear favorite from the release. They have not done this one in awhile and everyone was performing adeptly, but such is excepted when you are a band that tours as much as Queensryche does. The “Empire” suite would get the largest focus this evening and find eight of the albums tunes being presented while seven came from both “Rage” and “Soldier”. In the end this was ok in my book for it was this release that got Queensryche music on mainstream radio and ended up putting the interest bug in many fans ears that were then surely going to look into the bands rich back catalog. “Silent Lucidity” was great to hear in concert again as it has been years since the band had done it and that’s always surprised me based on how popular the tune actually is. It was safe to say that the audience was at its loudest for the “Empire” suite and were singing along to numbers like “Jet City Woman” and the closing track “Empire”. Whew, what a show.

To sum it all up I felt that the “Rage” set was impeccable and the “American Soldier” set impressive enough to help sell the album but at the end of the day it was the “Empire” set that blew the roof off of the sold out venue. The band showcased the talents of young Parker Lundgren on second guitar this evening and he is working with the band in the place of the recently left Mike Stone. He did a fine job and he best keep up the good work considering he is soon to be Geoff Tate’s son in law. If he doesn’t, those Sunday dinners are going to have some difficult conversation going on. Rockenfield was behind a massive drum kit again and I love seeing him work his magic from one of those and Mike Wilton “The Whip” has really been shining on guitar for years now and just seems to be continuing the process. He is actually the only guitarist on the new album. Tate was better than ever and did fantastic on the older and more recent material at the same time. His voice has changed a little bit over the years in terms of the stratospheric notes but he still pulls off most of the material without a hitch. All of this was held together nicely by Eddie “The Quiet Man” Jackson, who seemed comfortable standing in the back part of the stage just doing his thing. I should mention that during “Dead Man Words” that the band was joined by keyboardist Jason Ames.

I would have to say that from beginning to end this was a great one and how interesting it was to be at a Queensryche show that didn’t have a single representation of “Operation Mindcrime” at all in the mix. They also didn’t touch upon anything from the bands debut EP or first album, although I should mention that “Take Hold Of The Flame” was originally on the set list. They ran too close to curfew I guess and had to omit it making “Empire” the evenings closing number. After this one I cannot even guess what The Ryche will do to entertain us but I am sure that they will come up with something. I look forward to being a part of it no matter what it is.

Set list:
1. Neue Regal
2. Whisper
3. Screaming In Digital
4. I Dream In Infra Red
5. Walk In The Shadows
6. Surgical Strike
7. I Will Remember
8. Sliver
9. The Killer
10. If I Were King
11. Man Down
12. Dead Man Words
13. Home Again
14. The Voice
15. Best I Can
16. Thin Line
17. One & Only
18. Hand On Heart
19. Silent Lucidity
20. Jet City Woman
21. Anybody Listening
22. Empire
23. Take Hold Of The Flame (omitted)

Official Website: http://www.queensryche.com

PLEASE note – I am a little unsure about Empire and Jet City’s order but I am pretty sure that Jet City was last and that they only did one encore song.

IMHO – They crowd loved Rage for Order, totally enjoyed American Soldier and was totally rabid for Best I Can, Empire, Anybody Listening and Jet City Woman from Empire.

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