Thursday October 7th, 2004
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
Review and All Live Pictures By Lord of The Wasteland
Tour Posters & Additional Graphics from Queensryche.com
For those of us who were old enough to be around when Queensryche?s OPERATION:MINDCRIME was released back in 1988, we can remember the first great heavy metal concept album being unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. With its themes of mind control in a totalitarian society, that record was a departure from Queensryche?s quirky art metal displayed on 1986?s RAGE FOR ORDER and really put the Seattle natives in the hearts and minds of fans, critics and scribes alike. Its follow-up, 1990?s EMPIRE, is still the most commercially successful release from the band, but OPERATION:MINDCRIME was the band?s magnum opus and has yet to be equaled. Waning sales and interest in the band over the last few CDs has had some fans clamoring for a return to form, so when it was announced that Queensryche would be taking the OPERATION:MINDCRIME spectacle on the road, the metal world was abuzz once again for Queensryche. The tour, billed as ?A Night With Queensryche,? was without an opening act and reported to be split into two halves: the first being a sixty minute ?hits? set followed by OPERATION:MINDCRIME being played in its entirety. Perhaps as a special treat for their ever-devoted fans, Queensryche was not just performing the songs but they also enlisted actors, props, video images and giant screens to bring the story to life. This was to be a true telling of the story whose premise is akin to such thrillers as THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and The Who?s QUADROPHENIA or Pink Floyd?s THE WALL. Despite taking the show on the road in the early 90?s, never before had Queensryche attempted such an ambitious spectacle as this was promised to be.
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Rather than bring along an opening act, Queensryche dedicated the evening to over two hours of their most loved songs and the OPERATION:MINDCRIME masterpiece. Original members Geoff Tate (vocals), Michael Wilton (guitar), Eddie Jackson (bass) and Scott Rockenfield (drums) have enlisted Mike Stone (ex-Criss) to fill the spot left vacant by Chris DeGarmo who left rather acrimoniously in 1999. Former < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
At , the lights lowered and a nattily-dressed Tate took center-stage. Even though he has sported a cleanly-shaven head the last few years, Tate is now sporting a full head of hair. The band quickly launched into ?The Whisper? from RAGE FOR ORDER and for the next hour, held the sold-out crowd in the their palm of their hands delivering such favorites as ?Empire,? ??Take Hold of The Flame,? ?The Lady Wore Black? and their signature hit, ?Silent Lucidity.? Despite the glaring omission of ?Walk In The Shadows? and ?Queen of The Reich??two personal favorites?the band covered the highs of their career and even introduced some fans to newer material like ?Open? from last year?s TRIBE and ?When The Rain Comes? from 1999?s Q2K release. The chorus of ?The Lady Wore Black? was slowed to a crawl and Tate took a different vocal delivery than on the original version, yet his screams, as well as those on ?Take Hold of The Flame,? show that his voice is just as strong as ever. The crowd lapped up the energy of ?Empire? and sung along during the chorus, but saved the best for last during ?Silent Lucidity.? The Commodore was a sea of lighters and waving arms as over 1,000 spellbound fans sung along to every word. (Select dates on the tour feature a live string section on ?Silent Lucidity?) Since
As one of only two media personnel granted photo access to this show, I felt very grateful sitting between the stage and crowd barrier. The front of the stage was crowded with three video cameras to capture the action for the second segment of the show and a gigantic mixing board controlled the images. The show was being produced in surround sound for maximum theatrical effect, as well. A stagehand came out and began to get the crowd fired up with the usual ?Are you ready for ____?!?? nonsense when suddenly, a freaky-looking guy bolted past me in the ?secure? zone and was screaming into a megaphone. He jumped up on stage and I was thinking to myself, ?What the hell is going on?? when two bouncers sprung into action and grabbed the guy. All of a sudden, a police officer came out of the wings and took away this mysterious intruder. It was then that I realized the MINDCRIME show had begun and it was apparent that what
The lights instantly went down completely blackening the club as ?I Remember Know? was played. Suddenly, the video screen began playing an animated sequence that outlined the basic premise of the story and the band came out dressed in black and leather (Stone wore a balaclava) to get things going with ?Anarchy-X.? It was actually quite unsettling after the staged disruption so the band had succeeded in enrapturing the audience right off the bat. Both Tate and Sorensen played the role of Nikki, but Sorensen was doing the more animated stuff that was limiting as Tate sung. Tate?s acting skills are actually quite good and he was able to convey incredible emotion just sitting slumped in a chair next to the telephone that haunts the character. A dominatrix-like Nurse Debbie came out and injected Nikki with the first dose of mind-altering narcotics that would send him spiraling into madness. The only distracting thing was the cheesy tissue paper/orange light that was used to simulate fire, although after the Great White tragedy, I suppose everyone is playing it safe. The rest of the band was basically accessories to the acting however the playing was phenomenal.
To say the OPERATION:MINDCRIME segment of the show was captivating is an understatement. While I still follow the band?s career and do own all of their music, I will admit that the last Queensryche CD that really struck a chord with me was 1994?s PROMISED LAND, so seeing a rabid crowd and the band sounding better than ever was refreshing. The production went off without a hitch and the band and all actors, stagehands and production crew should be commended for their incredible vision and hard work at bringing this story to life. The band continues on its tour of North America with the OPERATION:MINDCRIME production through the end of October and pick up again in early 2005 with more dates expected to be added leading up to the release of OPERATION:MINDCRIME II. Do not miss this tour as it really is something special and an integral part of appreciating the OPERATION:MINDCRIME saga.
Another Rainy Night
Take Hold of The Flame
When The Rain Comes
Last Night In
The Lady Wore Black
**25 Minute Intermission**
I Remember Now
Spreading The Disease
Suite Sister Mary
The Needle Lies
Breaking The Silence
I Don’t Believe In Love
Waiting For 22
My Empty Room
Eyes of A Stranger
**The band held an exclusive ?meet and greet? after the show that I was fortunate to be a part of. For the better part of an hour, the band members posed for pictures answered questions, signed autographs and seemed genuinely interested to talk to their fans. Lots of great questions and even more interesting answers came about as I floated around and listened in on conversations. Fan club members from around the world were following the tour and seeing them interact with the band is a real testament to how devoted Queensryche?s fanbase is.
**Visit Queensryche?s official page at www.queensryche.com.
**Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues for the ticket and photo pass.