Over three decades, Queensryche has not only brought music to their fans, but also created friendships and families with their active participation in their fan club through the ’90s and in into ‘2000s. These fan clubs, known as Empires [named after the 1990 Empire album], are represented in many counties, states, and cities throughout the globe; all filled with fans that have been hanging out together before shows, and some have traveled to together to shows throughout the world.
Following this band, I have witnessed marriage proposals in Seattle, made friends in Arizona, Chicago, Minneapolis, California, Kentucky, New York City, Sweden, England and many other places around the world, people with whom I still communicate to this day, all due to five guys from Seattle and the musical art they created.
Guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Micheal Wilton, Bassist Ed Jackson, Drummer Scott Rockenfield, and singer Geoff Tate recorded five uniquely different sounding albums together before founding member Chris decided to leave the band in pursuit of a career as a pilot. Since Degarmo’s departure, the band carried on producing six more progressive albums, all of which sounded completely different than the previous ones, Some longtime fans loved the variation, while others disliked the constant artistic change directed within the band by Tate.
In 2012, Rockenfied, Wilton, Jackson, and current guitarist Parker Lundgren fired Geoff, replacing him with Todd La Torre. Thus the fan division ensued, as Geoff went on to create experimental sounds and artistically driven music, and Queensryche went back to its hard rocking roots, producing three new albums of the same nature.
Tonight was the first time I have seen the mighty Ryche since the departure of Tate and drummer Scott Rockenfield, which for me was like meeting your mothers new boyfriend after she dumped your dad for a younger version. Not to discredit the authoritative voice of Mr. La Torre, but it just felt weird to see a band that I followed for so many years with so many new faces.
Queensryche always brings an extensive light show no matter how large or small the stage. Attending a Queensryche show is more of an experience than a simple rock concert. Unfortunately, last night was a sound system fiasco from the second they hit the stage. It seemed the sound engineer turned every dial to the loudest possible position then left for the night, which took away from the Wiltons precision style guitar and drowned out La Torres powerful voice.
Opening with the progressive and powerful “Blood of the Levant” from the latest recording The Verdict, they immediately moved into longtime fan favorites “I Am I,” and (one of my all-time favorites) “NM156,” though the arrangements wained a bit from the album versions and switched up the guitar solos.
Queensryche is one of those bands that give their audience 100%, which I imagine is tough to do in such a horrible venue for rock music. The Medina Entertainment Center is not set up for acts/shows of this caliber. Picnic bench style seating throughout the place is difficult to navigae, and those in attendance are monitored and lectured by security for standing. I remember once seeing original singer Geoff Tate tell an audience that the relationship between artist and audience is a “you give, we give” existence, and I wonder what the band was thinking as they played their hearts out to an audience which looked to be attending a Josh Groban performance.
As people sat in their chairs, I felt bad for a band that has so much power and force to be offered so little due to the nature of the venue. It was painful to watch the Ryche playing fan favorites like “Eyes of a Stranger,” “Empire,” and “Jet City Woman,” as those anthem songs were not served justice by screams and the ambiguous metal devil horn salutes from fans sipping light beer while sitting alongside a six-foot church-like folding table.
Horrible sound, a shit venue, and senior-center-style seating did not represent the mighty Ryche well, though despite the variables against them for the night they managed to put on a great show. The godfathers of progressive metal, Queensryche still brings it for their fans as they performed classic Ryche, along with their hard-hitting and guitar driven new albums.
Gone are the days of the Geoff Tate-era of progressive and experimental music, as the new version is straight forward metal music which has been consistent through the last three albums. None the less, they are an incredible band!
So The Verdict: If you get a chance to see Queensryche live, do it, as they are incredible musicians with a powerful voice, just don’t do it at The Medina Entertainment Center.