March 27, 2014
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Andy Upton
Photos by Paul Wilkins
It was hard to actually know how I was going to feel as I walked into the House of Blues for the Queensryche concert. Having been a fan of the original band since the mid-80's, I had my reservations about seeing this incarnation with the only founding member, lead singer, Geoff Tate. I had a lot of admiration and affection for the original group, but tonight, I would be seeing Queensryche in a whole new light.
My affinity for the original band goes back as the opening band for Metallica on February 3, 1989, in Austin, Texas, to an intimate Dallas radio station gig I attend awhile back, then seeing them perform their concept album, Operation: Mindcrime, several times with my college roommate, that is when this band became a part of me. Tonight was going to be about Geoff and his new friends who have all played their own part in rock-n-roll history.
Opening act Hurricane blazed through their half dozen songs without much fanfare. On guitar and one of the original members was Robert Sarzo and Tony Cavazo on bass. Robert, who is on double duty, also plays guitar with Queensryche. Behind the kit is Mike Hensen and their newest member, vocalist Jason Ames. Their sound was old and somewhat flat but that was to be expected from an 80s band that has not put out any new music since 2001. All accomplished musicians with decent stage presence except for a few times when lead singer actually had to read the lyrics sheet that was laid in front of his stage monitor. This was quite noticeable during his performance. The one highlight of their set was the classic cover "Eighteen" by Alice Cooper.
Now it was time for the main event. From the first note, I was like a little kid in a candy store. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and a flood of memories rushed through my head. When Geoff Tate appeared, it was as if the clouds broke and a mighty bright light shined down. His voice was near perfect and even with the new line up, the band kicked in, note for note, as if we were back in the 80s. On tour and playing their epic story of Operation: Mindcrime in celebration of its 25th Anniversary, I knew this concert was going to be a treat.
They began their show with "I Remember Now" and the fans went nuts as soon as the background voices and music started. It was majestic! "Anarchy-X" led into a wonderful rendition of "Revolution Calling." Geoff's voice was firing on all cylinders by this point. The drum work by Brian Tichy on the title track "Operation: Mindcrime" was second to none as the backing vocals were spot on. The dueling guitars by Kelly Gray and Robert Sarzo were mesmerizing. Bassist John Moyer (of Disturbed and Adrenaline Mob fame) did a fantastic job of highlighting the thumping bass notes.
"Speak" sped up the tempo and fell right into "Spreading The Disease," the song about one of the main characters, Mary. "The Mission" was slow and methodical. It plods along, continually built up by Randy Gane on keyboards and the ever-present twin guitar attack. The near ten minute long "Suite Sister Mary" (featuring Sass Jordan) was perfect and the crowd joined in to sing the main line (get it? anybody?) of "The Needle Lies" while Geoff's voice was once again amazing. "Electric Requiem" and "Breaking The Silence" were fillers before an awesome version of "I Don't Believe In Love." On "Waiting For 22," guitarist Robert Sarzo played the acoustics while Gray carried the fine electric tones. "My Empty Room" was as somber tonight as it was back in 1988. The last song, "Eyes Of A Stranger" wrapped it up nicely. I always loved how the song borrowed bits and pieces of the whole album in the whirlwind final notes.
By this point of the evening my voice had finally given out and sweat was pouring off my forehead. The crowd had surged towards the front of the stage and even people in the balcony were standing on their feet! I believe I saw tears streaming down from a few sets of eyes (none for me - not this time). After a brief rest, the crowd was treated to a few bonus hits, "Silent Lucidity," "Best I Can," "Jet City Woman" and the 1990 radio hit "Empire." Geoff Tate delivered, and even at fifty-five years of age, his voice was spot on!