After getting my face rocked off by HALCYON WAY the time had come…a time two and a half years in the making. Time for me to take in the mighty QUEENSRŸCHE live in all their glory. Since that day in June of 2013 when the self-titled record made its way into my hands (and the #1 spot on my Top Albums list that year) and I was able to soak in a full disc’s worth of the greatness that IS Todd La Torre I had been hungering for this. For two years the band criss-crossed the globe, but unfortunately the only stops they made in Texas were too far away from me in Dallas at the time. I had all but given up on catching them in action until the light at the end of the tunnel manifested itself in a late 2015 tour announcement featuring, you guessed it, a stop in PHILLY!! And at Theater of the Living Arts no less!!
As the lights dimmed and the intro tape rolled the crowd came to life. And when drummer Scott Rockenfield emerged the place erupted in noise as soon as he did. The band launched into “Guardian” from new album Condition Hüman and with each “Rise Uppppp!” on the refrain the arms were raised higher and higher by all of us. The place was packed with longtime fans who were every bit as hungry as me and the band sure as Hell was NOT gonna disappoint us.
The animation on-screen from “I Remember Now” gave way to “Operation: Mindcrime” from that landmark 1988 opus much to everyone’s approval. Next up was “Best I Can”, the first of four from 1990’s Empire, and a pleasant surprise.
Guitarists Michael “Whip” Wilton and Parker Lundgren, bassist Eddie Jackson, the aforementioned Mr. Rockenfield, and La Torre were playing with a vigor that bands half their age couldn’t muster up on their best day and the atmosphere was positively electric, not only from the music, but with the anticipation of what song could possibly be next. Another surprise came with “Damaged”, one of the best tunes from Promised Land album and as if that wasn’t enough, they immediately followed it with “The Killing Words.” Rage For Order is a phenomenal record from start to finish, so to hear this one live nearly gave me a coronary!
Another Operation: Mindcrime number, “The Mission” showed up, complete with every audience member speaking the line, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned…” at the start. You don’t know the meaning of the words “rabid fan base” until you see QUEENSRŸCHE in concert.
New song “Bulletproof” was next and it’s one of my favorites off the record. La Torre’s vocals are on another level on the recording, but live? Sheeeeeit, they obliterated that level and created a new one.
And then…oh man, it was time for “Empire”. This song is special to me for soooo many reasons and in seconds I was 17 again, singing it at my high school Battle of the Bands (we won, btw.). And to keep my Memory Lane Train going they pulled out “Silent Lucidity”, one that will always be a favorite, and from the looks of those around me singing at tops of lungs, I wasn’t alone. “In This Light” from 2013’s self-titled disc was the lone representative from that record but that’s OK. It is an excellent song and sounded fantastic.
At this point the band decided to crank the heat up a few notches with “Queen of the Reich.” Now listen, we’ve ALL seen countless YouTube videos of them doing it live since La Torre joined the band but none of them, and I mean none of them can hold a candle to actually being in the room when he lets fly on those choruses. The fucking hairs on my neck were at full attention, believe you me! Also, Whip and Lundgren were setting their fretboards on fire, while Rockenfield and Jackson were playing lights out.
“Jet City Woman” kept everyone moving, singing, and screaming along as well. They really picked a setlist that wouldn’t let up for a single second. Closing out the regular set was “Take Hold of the Flame,” and really, how could it not? This is such a revered song in the QUEENSRŸCHE catalogue and the boys did the best live version I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been seeing them live since 1989.
After all of this, what could they possibly do for an encore? Welp…howzabout a little “Screaming In Digital” for ya?? My head nearly exploded, my heart nearly stopped, and I’m pretty sure I had a musical organasm when this was played. Scratch that, I KNOW I did. Such an incredible song, it was always a favorite from Rage, and to finally hear it live all these years later was glorious. Ending the evening on the highest of high notes, Mindcrime’s “Eyes of a Stranger” brought the goddamn house down. The band was locked in, and we weren’t budging for one second till the final notes rang out.
My first QUEENSRŸCHE show in over a decade was more than worth the wait. It was a magical night of music spanning the band’s entire career, and they played like monsters for each and every second of their set. I must also say that Todd La Torre put on a vocal clinic this night. He hit notes that left eyes bulging and jaws dropping all while making it look easy.
Trust me when I tell you, if QUEENSRŸCHE is within driving or flying distance from you, and you have the means, then go. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you’ll come away locking that show in as one of the best you’ve ever seen. ~dc
LIVE WORDS: THE MAESTRO
LIVE PHOTOS: MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY