Saturday, December 6, 2003 @ 6:41 PM
Queensrych and Echo 7 Live at
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I have to be honest, when there is an opening band that is unknown I usually cringe, knowing full well that about 99% of the time, they are gonna suck. I can’t help it, I have seen it too many times and I know I am not alone in this way of thinking as I look out at all of the empty seats that are present for most opening acts.
I was pleasantly surprised by Echo 7 and apparently, so was the Phoenix audience at the Celebrity Theater. I heard them start off their set and frankly was in no rush to head to my seat. After a short time of kind of half listening, I realized these guys might actually be ok… maybe I should go and check them out. I was surprised by what I heard and actually disappointed that I had not gotten to my seat sooner. This band has a great sound and has a boatload of personality on stage and off. They are different in the fact that they have two great guitar player/vocalists not just one main “front guy.”
This group is a powerful and melodic quad that completely engages their audience and really seem to enjoy what they are doing. The bass player Frank Roop was in his own little world, playing to the audience as though they were long lost buddies from middle school – making faces and totally interacting with the crowd. The two singers -- Ronnie O’Briant in the front and Dave Sharrock to his left -- really were complimentary to each other. The two had their own distinct songs and while one took lead, the other would do the back-up vocals and they sounded extraordinary. As far as their drummer Jason Hearn, he is hardhitting and powerful. Amazingly, after all the headbanging back there, he does not have a concussion. These guys are extremely entertaining. I have to apologize but I really did not know their music so to tell you specifics about certain songs would be impossible, but I can give you the set list, personally written for me after the show by Frank complete with cartoon caricatures of his band mates (just to illustrate his goofy personality). The set list was as follows: Standing in Between, Beneath the Surface, Part of You, Masquerade, Reason Why, Inside Out, The After, Once Before, Carousel, Down, and finally One Step Away.
Again, this group out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina truly is worth putting your butts in the seat a little early to check out. You certainly get your money’s worth with the music and the entertainment value from the interaction with the crowd right down to the synchronized jumping spins. I did give a safety warning to the guys after the show -- if you are gonna do synchronized jumping spins on stage to hard hitting tunes, you might want to think about going wireless. On a few occasions they were a little wound up in their guitar cords and I thought they were gonna end up falling on their heads (sorry, that’s the mom in me). I am sure though, with as professional as these four are, the show would have continued even with one of their own laying on the floor.
These guys do have an album out called One Step Away and you can learn more about the band at their website www.echo7online.com. If you have the opportunity to see these guys, make sure you do. You will not be disappointed. Great job guys! It takes a lot to have me check out and actually stay for an opening band. I truly was impressed!
Geoff Tate feels the music again, and Phoenix responds with a resounding YES!! I have to admit, I was a little more than hesitant going to the Queensryche show at Celebrity this year. Memories of the last show at this venue kept ringing through my head. As much as it pains me to say, the last show here was, by far, the worst Ryche show I have been to in the 15 years I have been attending their shows. Talk to anyone who was at that show and they will all say it seemed as if Geoff was bored to tears. Of course, I am sure it is memorable for Queensryche as well, as they had some bad luck at that show. It seems two schmucks stole a guitar right off stage. Nice impression Phoenix left that night. My thought before this year’s show was, "Great, they are gonna hate being here even more, what can that possibly sound like?" Well, I am ecstatic to report, that was as far from the case as could be! The band looked great, sounded great, and truly seemed happy to be playing. I had heard that Geoff had shaved his head, and frankly ladies, he still looks amazing!
Let me start off by saying, if you came here looking for a Mindcrime show, you would have been sadly disappointed, although, I and the rest of Phoenix weren’t disappointed in the least. The first song they started out with was “Tribe,” which was a great choice with the tribal sounding drumming leading to the rocking riff of the chorus. From there they moved on to “Sign of Times” and “Hit the Black” followed by “Nm 156” and “Screaming in Digital.” Next came the thundering sounds of “I am I” and “Damaged.”
“Losing Myself” and “Desert Dance” off of Tribe were up next and a very lively Mr. Tate gave it his all including jumping up and down with fist in air singing – chanting, shouting, “Keep reachin’, come on, come on, keep reachin’.” The crowd went wild!!! They followed that up with “Right Side of My Mind.” The band had such intensity and the crowd fed off of it as if starved, giving back just as much as the Ryche boys dished out!
Then, the stage crew quickly appeared with stools and acoustic guitars and the band slowed it down just a bit. The acoustic set consisted of the new song “Rhythm of Hope,” then “Roads to Madness” and “Silent Lucidity” – their big “crossover” hit off of Empire. The acoustic sound was very rich and melodic and the guys really seemed to enjoy the change in the tempo and of course the audience, as with any Ryche show, was singing along word for word with every single song.
Once the acoustic set was done, it was time for some more up-tempo, downtown rock and roll with some oldies but goodies starting with “Take Hold the Flame” followed by “Breakdown,” “Breaking the Silence,” “I Don’t Believe in Love” and “Jet City Woman.” The energy level was right back up there as if the show had just started and the crowd was even more boisterous than ever -- very appreciative of the performance just handed to them! The guys left the stage and the lights went dark and the crowd chanted, “Ryche! Ryche! Ryche!” They certainly wanted more. I wanted more. We cheered, we yelled, we whistled and of course they came back with an encore.
To finish off the Phoenix crowd, the band played “Walk In the Shadows,” “Empire” and “Best I Can.” It appeared that everyone left the venue happy. This was a very diverse set list proving to hit at least one song from almost every album, and the show held up fabulously without the usual dominant presence of Mindcrime material. I was actually kind of surprised because there are a lot of Ryche fans that became fans during the Mindcrime era and frankly have had a hard time letting it go and really delving into the newer music of Queensryche. It appears that the newer music of Queensryche is really starting to stand up and hold its own now that the listeners are opening their ears and their minds to the new material. I have to applaud the Phoenix audience for being delighted with the performance that Queensryche gave and the music they chose to perform. I think it shows a maturity not previously witnessed and played a part in giving the band back their spark. You have to imagine that being asked to play the same 20 songs over and over for 15 years has to be difficult for anyone.
I was afforded the opportunity talk to the band after the show and they all truly seem happy to be back on the road and playing their new music. I was given the impression that they were happy with the result of the show and the new album. Personally I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next. The new addition of Mike Stone to the line-up of Geoff Tate, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield seemed to be a perfect fit as he is just as unpretentious as the rest of the guys and seems to meld musically as well.
I would like to take this time to thank the entire band, especially Michael Wilton for his hospitality and down to earth demeanor, I appreciate it very much! I'll see you guys when you come back to Phoenix and for those of you who have yet to see the show, go check them out. They truly have a new fire and will rock your world!