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Queensryche/Don Dokken

Date: 02/07/08
Venue: Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, New Jersey
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Burning Man
Screaming In Digital
Welcome to the Machine (Pink Floyd cover)
I'm American
The Killing Words
Another Rainy Night (Without You)
Gonna Get Close To You
Real World
Red Rain (Peter Gabriel cover)
Anybody Listening?
Jet City Woman
Eyes of a Stranger
Neon Knights (Black Sabbath cover, feat. John Pease)
Someone Else?

Starting off tonight’s rock show was a short acoustic set from Don Dokken. And speaking of…Dokken have a new album coming out this summer titled “Lightning Strikes Again”. Lets hope it does strike lightning because the last two “Hell to Pay” and “Long Way Home” were a bore. But from I have heard it sounds closer to “Under Lock and Key” and lead guitarist Jon Levin is playing licks similar in style to George Lynch. Check out samples at Dokken’s website www.dokken.net.

Don was joined by a second guitarist (whose name escapes me) but I know he is part of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

The two were relaxed on stools and ran through the usual Dokken classics “Into the Fire”, “Just Got Lucky”, “Breaking the Chains”, “Its Not Love”, “In My Dreams”, and “Alone Again”. Over the years and as he gets older Don’s voice becomes more seasoned sounding and soulful, he still has a smoothness to his tone but there is also a bit of grit as well. I’m looking forward to the new Dokken and the band coming back with a full on electric show.

Queensryche usually offer an interesting set live, mixing the old with the new making sure they are not perceived as just another product of 80’s nostalgia. Their last tour was for ‘Operation Mindcrime” Parts 1&2 where their set list comprised of all the songs from both albums complete with actors and a full multi media presentation.

This time around they are out supporting a new covers album titled “Take Cover” which they played “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd, “Red Rain” from Peter Gabriel”, and Black Sabbath classic “Neon Knights”.

Their set I thought got off to a slow start opening with “Burning Man” off “Q2K” followed by a mechanized sounding “NM: 156” from “The Warning” and “Screaming in Digital” off ‘Rage for Order”. Now while the two off ‘Warning” and “Rage” are fine choices they are just not up beat enough to start a live set with. Also included from “Rage for Order” were the rarely played excellent “Killing Words” and “Gonna Get Close to You”. Both songs showcase the Ryche’s unique choice in progressive arrangement and I remember at time of release in 1986 the video for “Gonna Get Close” was so different for a Heavy Metal band. No one sounded like Queensryche at that time.

I still don’t understand why guitarist Mike Stone chooses to have non hard rock fashion sense. Between his weird hair dos and clothes (tonight he had on I think a sweat suit with huge ear phones), he still doesn’t look like he fits in the band and is just a session player. Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo (ex Queensryche guitarist) looked like a team, like Tipton/Downing (Judas Priest) and Murray/Smith (Iron Maiden). Stone is the odd man out (ex: Hugh Mcdonald from Bon Jovi). I know this is a minor detail but you should look like a unit on stage.

Moving along, other songs mid way through the set like the ballad “Bridge” off “Promise Land”, “Anybody Listening” and “Another Rainy Night” from the “Empire” album while are great songs just didn’t have the energy to sustain a vibrant set. Maybe they should have arranged things differently. But the night closed on a strong more energetic note with “Jet City Woman”, “Eyes of a Stranger” from “Mindcrime 1” and the cover of Sabbath’s “Neon Knights”.

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