Queensryche and Lita Ford Rock Music City

By Michael Fischer, Writer, Cartoonist
Thursday, November 19, 2009 @ 10:38 AM

At the Nashville Cannery Ballroom

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Iíve been a fan of Queensryche since the Nightrider first sailed in 1982. Soon as their self entitled EP hit college radio. It instantly created a buzz within the underground metal community. College rock radio in Nashville like Vanderbilts WRVU 91 Rock played Queensryche on Uncle Keith's Heavy Metal Breakfast and on weekends when the metal DJs would come in and take over. We heard the EP and thought ďSeattle? Who the hell are these guys?Ē

Who can forget the first time you cracked open the plastic on Queensryches four song EP in 1982? I remember setting the record needle on Queen of the Reich gazing at the black album cover with Queensryches witch like gold and purple trimmed logo nice and big across the front of the record. It was hypnotizing to look at the black and white band photo on the back of the album of these young rocker kids. The debut EP was pure gold and the birth of one of pure rocks most silent electric heros. In my opinion, Queensryche are one of the most underated rock bands of all time. In their prime during the Operation Mindcrime era in the early 1990ís, no one could touch them.

Itís a personable experience to see a big arena band like Queensryche play a small club. Soon as I heard they were playing the Cannery Ballroom it was a no brainer to go see them rip it up. Revisiting Queensryche tonight on Veterans Day was appropriate because the band is touring in support of their new record release entitled American Soldier. It is one of their heaviest intellectual studio recordings since their work on Mindcrime. As writers and artist reflecting on the times, Queensryche are definitely in the now. Yet they still maintain their signature sound that put them on the Progressive Metal Map. Queensryche have endured many phases and still remain true to the music.

Queensryche began the show at 8:30 pm and performed three album acts. 1986 classic Rage for Order, their new record American Soldier and ending with Empire. They played non stop until almost 11:00 pm with no intermisison.

Set List 11.11.09

    1. Neue Regal
    2. Whisper
    3. Screaming in Digital
    4. Infra Red
    5. Walk in the Shadows
    6. Surgical Strike
    7. I Will Remember
    8. Sliver
    9. The Killer
    10. If I were King
    11. Man Down
    12. Dead Man Words
    13. Home Again
    14. The Voice
    15. Crave - ( Lita Ford )
    16. Patriotic Sob - ( Lita Ford )
    17. Close My Eyes Forever - ( Lita Ford & Geoff Tate )
    18. Best I Can
    19. Thin Line
    20. One and Only
    21. Silent Lucidity
    22. Jet City Women
    23. Empire
Queensryche's new epic record release American Soldier is one hell of a record! It envisions war through the eyes of a soldier and is the bandís 12th studio release. The ambitious record encompasses a dozen songs inspired by numerous interviews with War Veterans conducted by Geoff Tate. Geoff was intent on telling their story using their words after speaking with soldiers who served in various conflicts from World War 2 to Iraq. Tate turned their first hand experiences from the front lines into an unflinching musical examination of the life of a soldier and the consequences of war. Perfect time for a record of this magnitude. The seriousness of the material and the images of war literally stung the crowd midway through the show like a wasp. It was a heavy presentation of the human spirit, political war crys and personal pain. And unlike fictional Operation Mindcrime, American Soldier are true stories based upon the harsh reality of freedom and decades of human sacrifice other Americans have made for this country.

Tonight's show was one of the most unusual formats Iíve seen a band pull off in a while. I am used to seeing a couple bands play the typical opening and headliner sets. I was under the impression Lita Ford was going to open as the support act with her own band. Instead she made a brief three song appearance with Queensryche backing her half way through their set. It really picked the crowd back up after the new material drew everyone into a purple haze. Queensryche has never been a lets rock in your face style of act. They let Geoff carry the performance and the band just concentrates on playing instead of playing to the crowd. Lita Ford shoved a huge iron in the crowd and got everyone all riled back up. Queensryche is high energy, but not a high energy Hollywood Rock Show. Their unique brand of pure rock is dynamic and creeps up on you from all angles. Geoff Tate joining Lita on Close my eyes Forever singing Ozzy's part was really cool. Lita ripped a nice guitar harmony solo with Michael Wilton. Lita came out and really stirred the crowd up before Queensryche finished them off with several tunes off Empire to close out the show.

Queensryche was one of the first heavy metal bands to attract a large female crowd which makes it great to go to one of their concerts. Chicks all go goo goo over Geoff Tate. My ex girlfriend was such a huge Geoff Tate fanatic, the day of their show in 1986, she totaled her car on the way to the concert, and still managed to get to the show bruised and in a neck brace singing along to every song challenging Metallica fans. Now that's a dedicated fan!

There were several comical things during the show. Like the 300 pound marine who was actually Geoff's bodyguard coming out to salute the crowd to start the American Soldier portion of the set. Nuns have been replaced with the US Army this tour. Most hilarious thing ever is next seeing that huge guy back up singing with Geoff on Sliver the first song. Itís was almost like Queens RAP than Queensryche. I thought ďDamn, Geoff Tate has his own posse now like Snoop Dogg!Ē That surprise almost tossed the crowd into a rubix cube trying to figure out ďWho is that big guy on stage?Ē Since Queensryche doesn't aggressively play directly to the crowd, their material themes just add to the show visuals. Although the band has always had a mysterious quiet image. Queensrycheís music is the true character always. They demand all your soul, heart and attention as a listener.

Like most of us as we get older and wiser with time. Queensryche has grown far from their days of the polished glam metal set. They are more lose and in the moment now live soaking up their time to perform for you. They are no longer just a heavy metal act unless they formated themselves that way. Queensryche delivered such an incredible performance with their Operation Mindcrime tour. You can rest assure they are going to keep the video screens and stage actors to add some theater element to the show. I like the format they performed tonight considering Iíve seen all their other tours. The new guitarist on the white Les Paul did a really good job tonight. The Rage for Order set was really good and it gives you goose bumps hearing songs like I will Remember live. I wore the shit out of that cassette tape back in the glory days. Geoff did break out a Saxaphone and electronic horn a couple times during the show tonight. Obviously singing is not enough. Heís no Miles Davis, but at least he hit the notes in key and he didnít play a tambourine. I would have left. Iím more of a fan of the heavy dueling guitar Queensryche, but if Geoff wants to play Earth, Wind and Fire. Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton will have to get their 1982 afro hair doos back.

I have to mention Geoff Tate brought his young daughter out on stage tonight to duet a song with him on the new record. Being most of us are fathers with kids at home and going to concerts with mom and dad. It was touching and pretty heavy in meaning considering the song was about war heroís. Great father and daughter moment. Who knows, she could be the new Heavy Metal Hannah Montana? Geoff's voice sounded excellent. You can tell heís a little parched from the road when he talks to the crowd. He nailed all of the old material and only cheated where professional. They had a new keyboard player and they did do some vocal sampling. It makes the songs sound like the record live. But it would be really cool if Queensryche all sang harmonies live like Kings X or Uriah Heep. Tate pulls off his lead vocals, so as long as heís not lip sinking, I still respect the bands performance.

The show really smoked! Great sound. Guitars were loud and thick, and you could feel the subs and kick drums right in your chest. Light show was nothing special, just some colored large par cans in front and back. Itís a club show, so they didnít really spend anything on effects and visuals other than the video screen. Queensryche sounded really good. They got louder and became better as the show went on until they really milked it at the end with Empire.

The fact they didn't play any hits off Mindcrime to keep the crowd in stitches reveals a lot about the character of this band. You can say what you want about Queensryche, but itís like Geoff Tate said on stage when he thanked and toasted the fans with a glass of red wine. He said ďIím doing this for the music and to keep the spirit of the music alive.Ē Queensryche has been touring the world since the 1980ís and has played well over 80 different countries, they couldnít do that without their loyal fans and followers.

Itís a rare treat anytime you have a chance to see bands of this caliber play in a small venue. There is nothing more kick ass than seeing Queensryche play Screaming in Digital in a club. And on Veterans Day the very same night the goober Country Music Awards are right down the street at the Sommet Center. Taylor and Garth should have come by for a lesson in kicking ass.

Queensryche's American Soldier Tour is 5 star and well worth the $26.50 ticket!

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