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Date: 3/26/19
Venue: Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
Report By: Jack Mangan


It’s hard to believe that this is the first time Queensryche and Fates Warning have toured together; their sounds and styles complement each other perfectly. Fates Warning are in the opening slot, but with a generous allotment of time. It’s not quite a co-headlining gig for them, but it's close.

They’ve never achieved the peaks of fame and prestige that Queensryche have, but their smart, edgy music has held them a place of honor and respect in the Progressive Metal community for nearly 40 years now. They play with veteran poise, but also with an ageless hunger and energy. Vocalist Ray Alder hasn’t lost a step - - not a centimeter. “The Light and the Shade of Things” from their latest album sounded just as fresh and powerful live as their classic, “Point of View.”

But Queensryche were the main attraction of the evening, and for good reason. Plenty of ink has been shed about their tumultuous years in battle with former lead singer, Geoff Tate; this review is going to focus on the here and now (as opposed to the Hear and the Now Frontier). The current team have gelled and solidified, and they know exactly what they’re doing. The modern material is strong - - especially from their latest and best with new vocalist, Todd La Torre, 2019’s “The Verdict,” but they intersperse the new stuff with the classics, both obscure and well-known. The highlights of the evening were in the deeper and the older cuts, resurrecting the brilliant song, “I Am I,” from the so-so “Promised Land” album, and a personal favorite: “NM 156” from "The Warning" (Guys, if you’re reading, please make it a permanent addition to the setlist). “Queen of the Reich,” “Screaming in Digital,” and “Take Hold of the Flame” were just brilliant, and Silent Lucidity was beautiful as ever.

It’s almost universally accepted that Todd La Torre performs the Queensryche classics - - made famous by Geoff Tate - - with reverence and remarkable ability. As a bonus, he also has a stand-up percussive drum kit onstage for this tour, which he visits frequently, jamming along with touring drummer, Casey Grillo of Kamelot (La Torre recorded the drums for “The Verdict” album). Michael Wilton also looks like he hasn’t aged a day since their debut EP. The guitar leads, shared by him and Parker Lundgren, were fire on this particular Tuesday night. The backing vocals also need respect, sounding album-perfect, performed by Lundgren and the other remaining founding member, Eddie Jackson.

Queensryche 2019 do face the enviable but daunting challenge of selecting songs from across a long-spanning career of fifteen albums. Many records got no representation at all, but going back to the releases that put them on the map, “Rage For Order” and “Operation:Mindcrime” got only one song apiece in the setlist. (Is it out of line to make two requests of the band in one review? Because I’d love to see “Rage For Order” given the full live treatment.) Managing a Queensryche setlist to please everyone is tricky, if not impossible, but they manage to hit all of the essential eras.

With vertical screens across the stage, plus an ingenious use of drum riser and double bass drum heads as screens, the visuals were fantastic, and paired well with the setlist. Not an easy feat for mid-sized clubs.

The crowd at the Marquee in Tempe, AZ, was fairly small, but respectable for a Tuesday night show. The fans who were in attendance were completely energized throughout, though, appreciative of all the material, new and old, singing along with all of the classics. And they were treated to an unforgettable night of great music. Queensryche aren’t a legacy act cashing in on past glories, they’re in their prime.

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