Queensrÿche are a band with history. Since launching their brand of symphonic metal in 1983 with their self-titled EP, over a dozen studio albums have followed along with scores of gold and platinum records to their names as well as much publicised line-up changes. So, with so much water under the Queensrÿche bridge, can this five strong powerhouse still bring the noise? The short answer is hell yes.
Playing to a near capacity crowd at Wolverhampton’s Robin 2, set opener ‘Guardian’ from the 2015 release Condition Hüman kicked things off as they meant to proceed with Todd La Torre proving that the stage was his and he was going to use it, providing a masterclass in lead vocals with Eddie Jackson on bass and Parker Lundgren on guitar kicking out soaring harmonic backing vox. Driving guitars from Lundgren and counterpart Michael Wilton and a rock solid rhythm section provided by Jackson’s bass and the masterly Scott Rockenfield on drums delivered un-mercilessly on every level as recent material gave way to classic Queensrÿche with ‘Operation: Mindcrime’, ‘Best I Can’ and ‘Damaged’ which had the already lively crowd moving en masse. Parker Lundgren and Michael Wilton demonstrated blistering guitar work with Wilton’s solo on Damaged sparking air guitar solos a-plenty in the audience and Eddie Jackson’s bass lines drove relentlessly and were showcased to full effect here.
Queensrÿche’s strength lies where it has always been, in anthemic riff driven verses and fist pumping choruses, spearheaded by towering vocals, which was nowhere more apparent than in ‘The Mission’, but ‘Silent Lucidity’ also served to prove that even in their less heavy moments, Queensrÿche still have plenty to say. If ever there was a ‘lighters aloft’ moment for those gathered at Robin 2 this was it. This being the age of health and safety though, they had to make do with outstretched arms and crowd participation singing. Not wanting to lull anyone into a false sense of softness, ‘Empire’ the title track from the album of the same name followed swiftly, ratcheting up proceedings by several gears again. My stand out track from the night, ‘Eye9’ from Condition Hüman gave a more industrial sound with symphonic vocals and dual harmonised guitars, which proved that this band definitely still have the goods and then some. It was all aboard the Queensrÿche time machine then with Todd La Torre informing the crowd that this was an ‘Old Song for the Old School….’ If the reaction of the crowd was anything to go by for ‘Queen of the Reich’, even the new school were old school. ‘Jet City Woman’ from La Torre’s first album with the band, 2013’s eponymous ‘Queensrÿche’ followed, with the main proceedings being brought to a close with a trip back in time again for 1984’s ‘Take Hold Of The Flame’ once again providing a singalong moment for the crowd.
It’s often true that for a band with such longevity you would expect or even forgive complacency when it comes to live shows. Not so with Queensrÿche. They give as good as they get, reaching out to their crowd and taking them along for the ride. Encores ‘Screaming In Digital’ from 1986’s Rage For Order and the closer ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’ proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Queensrÿche gig is not a spectator sport. It’s a head banger’s ball. And everyone’s invited.
Review by Jo Gosling.
Images used by kind permission of Lisa Billingham of Billibee Creative