"I remember now, I remember how it started" – For me the experience of Queensryche started in July of 1984 as the band KISS, while on tour for their album Animalize had brought a new band from Seattle as their opening act. The newly signed group was new to their recording contract as they were to the stage but believe me it did not show like this at all. The group delivered an impressive set from their new (and first) album entitled The Warning and while a KISS crowd is often unreceptive to the opening act, lead singer Geoff Tate was clearly a man who could handle them and hold their attention. He also sounded incredibly close to the recording and as a result, legions of KISS fans became followers of Queensryche as well. They would follow this release with their sophomore effort Rage For Order, and while it was an album that would give some fans pause they did not suffer a Sophomore curse and give you sub-par music. Many fans actually cite this album as a personal favorite and songs from it often bring resounding response from the audience. For their third album, there would be no resting on ones laurels and instead this would be the one to do it. The third record would be one of the best albums to hit the Progressive Metal genre ever and come to be regarded as one of the most important pieces of music of all time. The album was Operation: Mindcrime. It was a recording that would set Metal fans and the genre on its ear, as it was a tale full of intrigue, political viewpoints and mind control. To its credit, the album remains as strong in the minds of fans today as it did when it was originally released.
Read on for Ken Pierce's concert review!
Fast forward to 2005 where the band decided to showcase this album once again by performing it in its entirety and in addition to the execution of the music, would have actors performing in various roles along with the storyline. It was an incredible show and as a closer, the group played a new song over the speakers from the album they were in process of recording. A long awaited second chapter to the tale: Operation Mindcrime II. The album would arrive in early 2006 and continue along the tale some 20 years later picking up the pieces and answering some of the questions that the first recording left you wondering about. The album itself would not be as heavy as it more Metal predecessor but instead be a more-refined Melodic Hard Rock piece. Since many of the fans of the group have matured as well, this showed a level of growth with their fan base as well as a maturity in their own style. The album worked on a number of levels and had been met with approval more than it had not. Singer Pamela Moore once again took part in the recording as did legend Ronnie James Dio, who played the part of the manipulative Doctor X. Let us get to some concert points now shall we.
The announcement of Queensryche touring and performing both Mindcrime I & II in their entirety caused instant sell-out appearances at venues all across the country. Two performances would be in New York at the new mid-sized hot spot Nokia Theatre in Times Square. This sizable venue offers a lot more room than Irving Plaza affords a band but is easier to fill than Roseland Ballroom. Filing a venue is not difficult for a band like Queensryche, but a show such as this needed a level of intimacy and I was glad to be able to take part in it. It was a great feeling in the house tonight as the air was literally electric with excitement as fans readied themselves to experience Mindcrime as a complete piece. Beginning with the animation of a hospitalized Nikki, the stage was set and it would blow your mind while you watched. The first time around when Ryche toured Mindcrime, the only other participant was Ms. Moore and their return to this event years later found extra actors being used to an incredible effect. Tonight Tate would take a greater part in the performances on the acting side, all the while singing his heart out. He still possesses a lot of his original power and this was something the audience really enjoyed finding out. Arriving onstage with a statement against the war in Iraq, Tate not so subtly showed his distrust in the state of being we are in as a country. However, unlike some performers he left it up to you to think rather than stand on the box and preach his views to you. Tonight was about Mindcrime and we would receive it in full. The group themselves were in top form and Mike Stone (the newest member from 2003) has really stepped into the role. Along with Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton, it seemed like the player had been holding the axe for the band for a lot longer. Rockenfield was once again behind a major drum kit and while sometimes "less is more", when it comes to Queensryche in concert most of us like to see Scott behind a monster drum set. The instruments were also covered in his "Rocken Wraps" designs which worked very well. The very theatrical presentation tonight would answer quite visibly the fate of Sister Mary, who Nikki is accused of murdering on the first recording. It had been let out some months ago but tonight we would see that she also received a phone call from Doctor X, yet hers would lead her to end her own life – her slow spiritual renewal from her sins instead ending potential promise with a sad suicide.
A brief intermission was taken by the band who when returned would perform Mindcrime II in its entirety - this time there were more actors than you could keep track of running about. Numerous set changes, band participation and even some members of the audience who had been selected as the Jury at Nikki's trial were there to watch in awe. Pamela Moore returned as apparently either the ghost of sister Mary, or perhaps Nikki's own conscience. We found the return of Doctor X along with his and Nikki's inevitable confrontation, and rather than give you a hint as to what happens I will let you watch the DVD for that little bit of information. Yes, I said DVD as the whole performance is going to be recorded and released as soon as possible. The only problem that I had with the show was that just like Mindcrime II, it just ends. Perhaps it was designed like that to keep you guessing, wondering or on the edge of your seat. I have yet to determine but I can say that the album itself is stronger in the live sense than it is on recording. I expected this to be the case, but I was not sure exactly how much a difference it would have. The stunning performance was closed by two encores and literally left the fans walking on the air around them. As the show ran its course I observed fans of all ages, and all of them were singing along, fists pumped into the air. "Revolution Calling"; Can you hear it?
Operation: Mindcrime II
Walk In The Shadows – encore
Jet City Woman - encore
Official Web site: www.queensryche.com