Prog veterans Queensrÿche returned to Bloodstock showing that 30 years haven’t slowed them down at all. 9/10
When I was 17, I fell in love for the very first time. It was everything I thought it would be – humbling, powerful and at times it made me breathless. 31 years later it still does, although where it used to be daily for at least a couple of years, now it happens perhaps monthly. But each time it feels like the first, only better; spine tingling, enticing, stirring and often leaving me exhausted.
When I was 17 I heard Operation: Mindcrime for the very first time. I already had Rage for Order and The Warning in my record collection and each was used to heavy rotation. Each had been replaced at least once. But this was something else. A concept album like no other in that it had no weak links. No fillers. It could well be the most one sided album ever made (OK, I know this isn’t a concept that transfers well into the digital age, but older readers will know what I mean). It also made the listener think…it didn’t spoon feed you the story, you had to go looking to piece it together.
Which leads me to Queensrÿche at Bloodstock. Perhaps wisely, they started their set with newer songs, ‘Blood of the Levant’ and ‘I Am I’ , before returning to the classics of the Prog metal genre starting with ‘Walk in the Shadows‘ and ‘Queen of the Reich‘. Todd la Torre has the voice of an angel, if that angel is the bastard love child of Geoff Tate and Ronnie James Dio. He can hit notes I never even dreamt were possible and then hold them for what seems like aeons. ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ was an early highlight, although in a set filled with classic after classic the word highlight almost ceases to have meaning. ‘Screaming in Digital‘ and ‘Take Hold of the Flame‘ returned to their pre Mindcrime roots whilst ‘Jet City Woman‘ and ‘Empire‘ covered the albums after, before returning to ‘Eyes of a Stranger’, the final track of what many consider to be the defining album of the Prog Metal genre.
I can’t promise to give a totally unbiased review. The dueling guitars of Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren (And Chris de Garmo before him) speak to my soul like no other guitars can, and live the experience is amplified. It truly is special watching the two of them harmonising the same solo. Eddie Jackson is as solid, dependable and groove heavy as he always has been. Just hearing the chugging, charged bass line of ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ reminds one as to how, when it all comes down to it, Metal is nothing without bass. Sure, the guitarists steal the show, but the bass is the glue which lets them. If I had one gripe, it’s that Casey Grillo, their touring drummer is no Scott Rockenfield. But then, who is? And an hour just isn’t long enough…where were ‘Silent Lucidity‘, ‘I Don’t Believe in Love‘ and ‘Best I Can‘?
The long held and cliched view of Progressive Metal is that it is all technique and no heart and even bands that I love can try my patience In this regard (yes, I am looking at you Dream Theater), but I have never been able to throw this accusation at Queensrÿche . They truly and simply rock. And they rock with intelligence, verve, charisma and outstanding technical ability, all of which were on show tonight. I. Bloody. Loved, Them. 9/10