tiistai 11. elokuuta 2015

Live report: No future for Queensrÿche

Queensryche in 2015 are (from left to right): Eddie Jackson
(bass), Parker Lundgren (guitar), Todd La Torre (lead vocals),
Scott Rockenfield (drums) and Michael Wilton (guitar).
Olin lomalla Lontoossa ja Englannissa ma 27.7.–su 9.8.2015 välisen ajan. Tuona aikana kävin katsomassa kaksi keikkaa, tästä niistä toinen. Koska olimme Englannissa, inspiroiduin kirjoittamaan tämän paikallisella kielellä. (TRANSLATION: I was on a holiday in London and England between mon 27th of July to sun 9th of August 2015. During that time I saw two concerts, The Vibrators and this. However, as we were in England, I was inspired to write this in English as opposed to this blog's usual language.)

6.8.2015 Electric Ballroom, London, England

Verdict: 2 / 5

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth. But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"

The classic phrase from Queensrÿche's breakthrough-album Operation: Mindcrime echoes in my head over and over again while I am writing this.

Released in 1988, Operation: Mindcrime was the defining moment in Queensrÿche's career. Then and there all pieces of the puzzle fell into place and made the band Seattle's finest musical export entity with with several million copies of the album shipped and sold worldwide.

Suddenly the Americans were playing ball in the Championship League of Metal, with club venues turning into arenas in front of their very own eyes.

When Queensrÿche rolls into London 27 years since that breakthrough-album many changes have taken place, as most notoriously and tragicomically revealed by metal's biggest news outlet Blabbermouth.

Events that resulted in Queensrÿche parting ways with their original singer Geoff Tate in 2012, 30 years down the line.

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth. But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"

The events leading to the split have been well-documented as has been the news reporting how Tate's successor Todd La Torre (of Crimson Glory -fame) is a worthy successor and replacement for Tate, making Queensrÿche a force to be reckoned with once again.

However, after the first album with La Torre (released in June 2013 by Century Media) and some Youtube-clips one couldn't help but wonder if all the hype was justified.

Better to witness it with your very own eyes, then.

Touts are selling tickets to the show for less than face value in front of Camden's Electric Ballroom. The venue itself seems to be half-full with around 500-600 punters packing the place.

This is not Championship League anymore but third division football. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

Los Angeles' Armored Saint tries to do it's best by warming up the crowd, but the most memorable moments from their set happen already during the first minutes when no bass and vocals can be heard even though the band fires with all guns blazing like true hellraising metal fuckers.

I make the notion that singer John Bush looks like actor Bruce Willis and head out to the bar.

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth. But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"

The headliners are dressed in black. They all look older and fatter since I last saw them – except for guitarist Parker Lundgren, who seems to have missed the door leading to a Misfits' gig and landing mistakenly into Queensrÿche instead.

La Torre is dressed in a long-sleeve bondage-style leather jacket. I make the notion that he doesn't have the presence and the charisma of his predecessor.

A more disturbing fact is – which I had alarmingly noted from Youtube-clips by the "new and so improved" Queensrÿche – how muddy La Torre sounds.

When Tate commanded the stage with his pipes, emotion and power, La Torre's vocals seems to be hidden down in the mix to conceal his flaws and weaknesses as a singer.

Yes, he finds the right notes and he has learned the songs well enough to make believe, but as there is no improvement in the vocal department during the show this cover-up looks like a deliberate decision by the band and their sound engineer as opposed to an off-night.

The only one who tried his very best to keep the legacy alive with his presence is drummer Scott Rockenfield – seemingly the backbone, spine and soul of the band today. But is it enough?

Not really.

So, what you basically have in the end is a pub band playing a set of Queensrÿche-covers with a polite young karaoke idol.

Nothing wrong with that either, but when you call yourself Queensrÿche, you kinda tend to expect more.

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth. But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"

For me, who have seen the original Queensrÿche with Tate and original songwriter, guitarist Chris De Garmo (who left the band in 1997 to pursue other interests) half a dozen times over the years this line-up just don't have the qualities and spark that made the band tick in its heyday.

It wasn't just about the songs: it was about the emotion, the dynamics, the drama, the vision and the visuals making Queensrÿche masters of majestetic prog metal.

In 2015 that band has been stripped down into a generic jukebox playing a strange selection of songs.

No emotion. No dynamics. No visuals. No vision. No drama.

Two songs in the set make this all too clear: Silent Lucidity, the Top 10 hit from their multi-million selling album Empire (1991) and Arrow Of Time, the first single from the upcoming album Condition Hüman.

First you have a De Garmo penned classic drawn into mud by uninspired playing and soulless vocals. Then you have a new song that reveals the bands' weaknesses all too well with some generic ideas stolen from Iron Maiden and Manowar blended through some off-arrangements to make it sound prog metal and hope no-one would take notice.

Well, we did take notice.

"I used to trust the media to tell me the truth, tell us the truth. But now I've seen the payoffs everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone's a crook?"

In 2015 Queensrÿche doesn't have a natural-born songwriting talent what Chris De Garmo was. Nor do they have a charismatic and intriguing stage personality that Geoff Tate was.

So what do Queensrÿche actually have in 2015?

The name. The brand. The illusion of grandeur.

With this being said one can expect a shitstorm by Queensrÿche-puritists who won't tolerate their favourite band being slagged off. Also there will be a lot of writing claiming the opposite.

But as the band once asked, who do you trust when everyone's a crook.

It is fitting that the band didn't perform the opening track of Operation: Mindcrime, Revolution Calling, with its haunting message.

Well, there is no revolution anymore, just conformity into mediocrity.

A revolutionary metal act playing it safe. A name associated with class turning into a faceless playlist. Venues turning from arenas into clubs, from clubs into pubs.

Suddenly a new song pops into my head. It's actually a song by a new British band called Sex Pistols, have you heard about them?

"No future, no future, no future for you", sneers and hollers a crazy-looking redhead called Johnny Rotten.

It is fitting I would witness the downfall of Queensrÿche at the very same streets that once killed pompous prog rock and brought us punk instead.

2 kommenttia:

  1. Damn . . . Great review. Sad to see such a great band morph into this.

  2. I always look forward to going out. A good tip would be to look out for those places with interesting concepts. This place is pretty amazing. I came up here with a friend. The Seattle venues were spacious and food was great.