I saw Queensryche in concert the other night at Badlands Pawn. Yes, it’s an odd concept that a pawn shop has concerts, but it’s Sioux Falls…I like Queensryche. They are a solidly good band with incredible musicians. Their drummer is amazing. They put on a great show, but for some odd reason, did not play the one song that put them into mainstream fame.
I am what you would call a casual fan. I don’t own any of their albums nor have I downloaded any of their songs. I, however, won’t change the station if their music comes on the radio. I probably will sing along too, because they were at the top of their game back when I was in radio.
There was a big crowd of mostly middle aged rockers, like me. It’s good to see that we all get out of the house occasionally, and that we are willing to give up $40 and a Thursday night still. I firmly esconced myself in the front row, by the sound board. A few people down from me was this really obnoxious guy who insisted on vaping before the show started. He and his redneck buddy were wowing us with their mental agility discussing the crowd in between puffs. After the security guard told him a few times to knock it off (and a few juvenile hand gestures done behind the guard’s back) the dude got a clue & stopped. He also confirmed my suspicion that he was a Trump supporter. I also half expected him to request Freebird, but luckily I was spared.
One of the things that surprises me most about music are the number of bands that are touring as themselves, but with a different lead singer. Sublime with Rome pops into mind almost immediately. They are not Sublime, they are Sublime light. There is a discernible difference in how they sound.
I understand that there are times when this is necessary, usually due to the death of the lead singer. This was the case with Sublime, INXS, Queen, and AC/DC (who, in my opinion, is the only band on this list that can pull it off because they are m-f’ing AC/DC). Others try to replace their show stopping showmen with a shadow of that overwhelming personality (looking at you, Van Hagar). The final category are bands that replace their lead singer with a sound alike. Journey has made a second career out of that. Queensryche falls into this latter category.
As I previously stated, they are a terrific group of musicians who obviously enjoy playing live. They looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage, and I appreciate that enthusiasm. Nothing kills your concert buzz like folks phoning it in. I didn’t know a lot of the songs that they played, which was fine, because I don’t need the live version of your greatest hits. Actually, this was better, because it introduced me to more of the band’s music than what I previously knew, and I kind of dug it. Some of the crowd were in the same boat as me-they knew the hits, but not much else. You could feel the energy change when they played them (all off Operation Mindcrime & Empire). I remember spinning these on air back in the early 90’s, and they have stood up well. Some music from that era has not aged well, this has.
It was a solid almost 2 hours of prog metal. I could have done without the images on the video screen, since I felt that they were distracting from the actual music being played. There were moments where I was more into trying to figure out how they related to the song than actually listening to the lyrics (unfortunately, I am not able to multitask in those situations. You know that whole walk/chew gum thing). Their artwork reminded me of Iron Maiden’s Eddie, and look squirrel! I went mentally down the path of comparing them to Maiden.
Which I don’t think is too far off. The influences are there. Sonically, the song structure is the same. They are painting a lyrical picture, with a tinge of dystopia, soaring guitars and a lot of words per minute. It’s not a slam, I think a little bit of our heroes wind up in what we create or do. It’s when you cross over into cloning or parody that it becomes an issue.
There still is that nagging question-why did they not play Silent Lucidity? It was the best Pink Floyd song Roger Waters and David Gilmour never created. I played the crap out of it on the air back in the day. It was the perfect length to pull more music or requests, and served as a palate cleanser. It’s like the sorbet of songs. The crowd was perplexed. My Trump supporting friend was down right apoplectic. His face turned as rubicund as his politics.
All in all, it was a solid show. I love watching musicians who obviously love to play live do what they do best. Their new material was really great, and it’s obvious that their singer owns it, compared to their catalog. I also love that they used Pledge Music to finance their album, which to me is so punk rock.