Queensr˙che appears to be a band desperately seeking to separate itself from the past. The set list for The Art of Live — a play on "The Art of Life," one of the songs on the band's 2003 album Tribe — draws heavily from that disc, with only a smattering of tracks from the band's best three albums, Operation: Mindcrime ("Breaking the Silence," "The Needle Lies"), Empire ("Della Brown," "Best I Can") and Promised Land ("My Global Mind").
What's more, Queensr˙che doesn't even look like Queensr˙che anymore. Singer Geoff Tate appears to be U2's Bono in shades and a beret, while new guitarist Mike Stone sports an evil-looking goatee and a skullcap more suited to Superjoint Ritual. Tate even indulges in a bit of embarrassing rap-metal in "Desert Dance" while inciting a startled crowd to jump up and down and "keep reachin'."
Filmed in grainy black-and-white film by members of Queensr˙che's road crew on last year's co-headlining tour with Dream Theater, the footage on The Art of Live can be shaky, with bizarre angles and abrupt cutaways. And like Operation: LIVEcrime, The Art of Live is plagued by shots taken from different gigs, giving band members alternating clothes throughout the set.
To its credit, though, Queensr˙che approaches the disc's bonus material from a different angle, using backstage and offstage footage shot by the band as the basis for interviews with Tate about touring, filming and playing studio gigs at local radio and television stations.
Despite Queensr˙che's direction in recent years, these guys remain consummate and confident players, a fact magnified during a three-song acoustic segment ("Rhythm of Hope," "My Global Mind," "Roads to Madness") and an immensely entertaining encore with Dream Theater featuring "Comfortably Numb" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." In fact, those two songs alone are worth the investment in The Art of Live, and they made me regret missing this tour when it rolled through Wisconsin.
2) Sign of the Times
4) Losing Myself
5) Desert Dance
6) The Great Divide
7) Rhythm of Hope
8) My Global Mind
9) Roads to Madness
10) Della Brown
11) Breaking the Silence
12) The Needle Lies
13) Best I Can
14) Comfortably Numb (with Dream Theater)
15) Won't Get Fooled Again (with Dream Theater)