January 14, 2016
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Dave Gray
Photos by Andy Laudano
Queensryche Delights The Humans
In 1989, I risked life and limb to travel 100 miles in the snow and ice to see Queensryche and Metallica at Dallas ' Reunion Arena. I remember it well. The show was performed live for Z-Rock Radio out of Dallas , and I listened to the cassette tape for months and months after the show. I knew of Queensryche at the time and had all the LPs, but was really at the show to see Metallica. When I arrived at my 5th row seat and the lights went down for Queensryche, I was blown away that everyone around me was singing along, every word, to all the Queensryche hits.
Operation Mindcrime had just been released and I was amazed at how many people loved this band, considering I thought the attendees would be mostly Metallica fans. I was impressed with their live show as well, but I haven't had a chance to see Queensryche live in the flesh again since that day 26+ years ago. Recent lineup changes had me wondering if they could ever be the same.
Well, Thursday night, my questions were answered. Deep Ellum's Trees was the venue for the 2016 Condition Human Tour. Opening the set with "Guardian" from the latest CD, a theatrical avant-guard production ensued. The stage at Trees is a little cramped for such a production, but there were cool visuals with every song on the video screen in back, although some video was limited by the drum riser. I imagined a set list with several tracks from the new CD, but was equally pleased to hear the old stuff as well.
The band broke instantly into "Operation Mindcrime" and the crowd's eyes and ears were glued to the stage for the remainder of the set. Vocalist Todd La Torre was a gracious host, and showed true professionalism as a front man (ahem, see Rocklahoma 2012). The set continued with "Best I Can" and a host of tracks from "Rage For Order," "Empire" and "Mindcrime." Midway through the set, the band performed "In This Light" from the 2013 CD. This song was obviously not from the MTV years but was instantly likable, and showed me the capability of this band to still write great songs, despite the departure of Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate. I have to hand it to guitarist Michael Wilton, who has done a stellar job performing most of the legwork in the form of solos. Guitarist Parker Lundgren, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield provided more than enough rhythm and backing vocals to make this band truly super again.
Highlights of the night were obviously geared toward the end of the set, where the band performed "Queen Of The Reich," "Jet City Woman," and "Take Hold Of The Flame" before the encore. I saw lighters in the air, horns up, drinks up; all the things from the 1980's that reminded me of the good times that were had when hard rock and metal was a major part of the music scene. I can only hope that when this band comes back to play this town, the crowds will be even bigger, so that maybe they can perform in a venue that promotes their progressive sound and incredible stage production. Well done!
On a side note, the opening act was Meytal, a five-piece band that features the YouTube sensation and drum goddess Meytal Cohen (if ya don't believe me, look her up). Setting the crowd on fire with their blistering 45 minute set from their debut CD Alchemy, the band has two excellent guitarists, a female bass player, and a killer lead vocalist as well. "Breathe," "Nothing," "Killing Time" and "Everybody Hates You Now" are very catchy (nu-metal?) tracks, progressive and heavy with great hooks and riffs. This band is easily one of the best new artists of the year in rock. Midway through the set, the band covered Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" to a tee, highlighting the progressive technical ability of this band. I look to hear a lot about this band in the future, as this is one of the best CDs that I have listened to in years, and to see 'em live was incredible. P.S. If ya hang around the merch booth you can meet 'em, too. (Wink-wink, you won't be sorry!)