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Date: 3/8/13
Venue: Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood, New Jersey
Report By: Rich Catino

Queensryche, the once mighty (admit it, after guitarist Chris DeGarmo left the music has not been as good), another band to divide into two camps that both claim the right to use the name. In this case, original members Michael Wilton (guitar), drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson on one side, with original singer Geoff Tate going solo after a nasty fallout with the rest of the band in spring 2012. Also at this time (and with perfect timing), Wilton, Rockenfield, and Jackson, unhappy with Queensryche’s musical direction in recent years, wanting to go back to their more metal sound from the self titled E.p. “The Warning”, “Rage For Order”, and the progressive masterpiece “Operation Mindcrime”, had formed a band called Rising West, with Ryche second guitarist Parker Lundgren, and singer Todd La Torre (from the band Crimson Glory). This project would ironically enough be the setup for the current lineup of Queensryche performing tonight.

As much as I want to see Geoff Tate as the rightful singer in Queensrcyhe, in recent years and over the last several albums (“Q2K” (1999), “Tribe” (2003),“Operation: Mindcrime II” (2006), “Take Cover” (2007), “American Soldier” (2009), “Dedicated to Chaos” (2011), it was more and more apparent Queensryche were getting further and further away from their roots. And, after hearing Geoff Tate’s modern, less metal solo album “Kings & Thieves”, it was obvious Tate had a bigger part in Ryche’s musical direction and experimenting in recent years than the rest of the guys.

Thankfully, Todd has been a breath of fresh air, a kick in the ass, and an inspiration for Queensryche to rediscover where they came from. Tonight’s setlist, as with the rest of the tour called Return To History, included nothing past the album “Empire”, the expected classics, and dusting off several gems. Queensryche’s scenario is akin to Accept’s, it was so hard to find a great replacement for the unique voice of Udo, but Mark Tornillo couldn’t be a finer choice. Very similar with a little touch of something different. Geoff Tate, also a fantastic voice and detrimental to the Ryche’s sound, and Todd fits in nicely, similar in tone yet a bit rougher at times around the edges. If I can’t have the original I’m pleased with this.

It has been so long since I have heard ‘Queen Of The Ryche’ live, it is such a proper opener and Todd hits that scream effortlessly. Speaking of, too bad Todd wasn’t feeling well (and is why ‘Needle Lies’, ‘Take Hold Of The Flame’, ‘Jet City Woman’ were cut), I’d like to hear this guy at full power, but he still did a fantastic job regardless. The guys were tight, Ryche’s rhythm section always is, and while I really miss DeGarmo’s contributions both in the studio and live (all of his replacements lack his flair and are not as creative solo wise), Parker may be the most accommodating and tolerable. ‘Walk In The Shadows’ (off “Rage For Order”) is no stranger to the live set, and it was great to hear ‘The Whisper’ make its return. Tracks from “The Warning” album got an ecstatic reaction, title track, ‘En Force’, ‘Child Of Fire’, and ‘Roads To Madness’ all welcomed with headbanging exuberance, with ‘Prophecy’ (from “The Warning” sessions) finally back in after many many years, probably since the mid 80s. Surprisingly, no ‘Lady Wore Black’? Maybe next time we will get ‘Nightrider’ or ‘Blinded’ off the debut E.p.? I’d like to get a few more dusted off from ‘Rage For Oder” too.

If Queensryche don’t patch things up with Tate I’m happy with this version. If Tate does come back, it better be under the condition new music doesn’t forget where they came from. If that’s the case, then keep Todd and move forward.

Queen of the Reich
Walk in the Shadows
The Whisper
En Force
Child of Fire
The Needle Lies
Roads to Madness
My Empty Room
Eyes of a Stranger
Silent Lucidity

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