If you have doubts about the currency, edge, and power of legendary rockers Queensrÿche, you may put those doubts to rest. Their show tonight at La Zona Rosa was pretty good. I bought a ticket a week ago and couldn’t wait; I was happy to finally be seeing them after being a fan for the 14 years since the 1990 release of “Empire”. After finding suitable parking and a backtracking walk to put some of the contents of my pockets back in my car, I couldn’t get inside soon enough to get a primo standing spot. However, I settled instead on a higher place towards the back of the main section; depending on how I stood I could look through the heads in front of me and see the whole stage. Otherwise, no complaints.
The evening was nothing but Queensrÿche. They did a double set. The first set was hits, misses, new stuff and old ranging from, of course, “Silent Lucidity” all the way back to the first song they wrote. The second set, however, was nothing but the entire “Operation Mindcrime” show complete with actors, props, and synchronized video entertwined in the band’s performance of the album. During the second set, they brought out the quadraphonic sound which pulled the audio out into the audience. I stood near the right rear speaker and heard some of the vocals and spoken samples clearly. Small club big bonus.
I was impressed with singer Jeff Tate. I had some doubt and concern about his ability to hit the high notes like he did in the early days of Queensrÿche; for the most part, he nailed them but tended to take artistic liberties in reinterpreting the vocal pitch, which was fine given it’s a live show and not an album take. His chattiness between songs was good; some of it was generic “always have a great time here” cheese, but he tended to keep us tuned in and told us some bits about where some of the songs came from, which was cool. A bonus. I haven’t seen pictures of him since “Empire”, so it was different to see him with his long hair cut off into something like a rockabilly/aged metalhead haircut. Comes off kinda cool. And he makes mascara and eye liner look good.
At the end of the second act, after the band left the stage, they played a video teaser for the intended 2005 release of the followup to the second set: “Operation Mindcrime II”. As I understand, it’s going to be more relevant than its elder, more current certainly, and more fully produced. It has some big shoes to fill, but they played one of the tracks, “Bound” (or something like that), which sounded good.
My ears ring now. Small club shows always do it to me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Arena gigs are cool, but they’re fraught with dealing with security, assigned seating, high-priced concessions, and you’re three miles from the stage. Small clubs, you have a chance of the band actually seeing YOU, they’re that intimate.
I’m tired, sipping water, sitting down, music off, and I am happy. I saw nobody I knew, spoke to no one other than the bartender, merch guy, and parking attendant, and enjoyed the show without extra-personal baggage. And I am happy.