Queensryche at The Fillmore, 6/4/09

by Gordon Elgart on June 5, 2009

One more time around is all he asks for now.

One more time around is all he asks for now.

In Queensryche’s heyday, they were an awesome force of a band.  Geoff Tate was an absolute beast, a singer with an incredible voice and an incredible range.  The twin lead guitars of Michael Wilton and Chris Degarmo alternated heavy riffs and bright solos with the greatest of ease.  And the solid, spectacular rhythm section of Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield carried the whole thing forward with fierce momentum.  That was 1990 or so.  This is 2009.  What are they like now?

Queensryche came to The Fillmore with their American Solider tour, during which they promised to play three “suites” of music: Rage For Order, American Soldier and Empire.  I didn’t know what form these suites would take.  Would they be shortened versions of songs in order to cover the entire album?  This did not excite me.  What it ended up being was exciting:  a selection of songs from each of these albums, bundled together.  The songs were not played in order, so there were surprises to be had.

I’ll take each section on its own and list the setlists individually.

Rage For Order Suite

Neue Regel
The Whisper
Screaming in Digital
I Dream in Infrared
Walk in the Shadows
Surgical Strike
I Will Remember

I’m going to admit that this particular section of the show had me worried.  Nearly every song needed a key change or a complete melody change in order for Geoff Tate to be able to sing it.  He’s not the young vocal wizard he once was, and Screaming in Digital was particularly lacking.  Walk in the Shadows picked up the pace because the crowd got involved in the show finally.  It seemed to me that the audience wasn’t wholly familiar with the material on this album.  Personally, I love this record, and if I were choosing, would have found a way to include “The Killing Words. ”

American Solider Suite

The Killer
If I Were King
Man Down!
A Dead Man’s Words
Home Again
The Voice

Now this was more like it!  Since this album was recorded only a little while ago, it sounded pitch perfect to what’s on the record.  Geoff Tate found his voice, and the riffs and solos were intense.  This album is dedicated to American troops, and tells stories of their experiences.  Most of the songs are directly taken from individual stories.  As his father is a veteran, these songs have a lot of meaning to Geoff Tate, and it really shows in the performance.  There were a few guests during this part of the show including Geoff’s Tate daughter Emily, who sang a duet with her father on the song “Home Again.”  The crowd, who were clearly not here to see “the new album,” did react well to this part of the show.

Empire Suite

Best I Can
The Thin Line
One and Only
Hand on Heart
Silent Lucidity
Jet City Woman
Anybody Listening?

And finally the Empire Suite, which was just song after song of classic Queensryche.  This was the best Geoff Tate sounded all night, and the most excited the crowd was as well.  Hearing songs like “One and Only” and “Anybody Listening?” along with an excited crowd was a tremendously fun experience.  The band seemed genuinely excited to be playing some of these songs.  I had never imagined I would hear some of them again, and I bet they never thought they’d be playing some of them again.  “One and Only” isn’t making anyone’s Greatest Hits album, but it’s among the best tracks they’ve ever done.

Five or so years back, I saw Queensryche play a show that was so terrible, I couldn’t believe it was the same band I had loved back in their day.  Yet only a couple of years later, they were on the Judas Priest tour ripping it up on a nightly basis.  I think as their popularity shrank, they were not comfortable with being the kind of band that has a small, dedicated fanbase, and just wailing every night for that group.  Somewhere in the past few years, the core of the band decided that they wanted to keep going, and go back to being awesome.  I really appreciate the effort.

If you went away from Queensryche during their “mailing it in” years, it’s been time to come back into the fold for a few years now.  Scott and Eddie are still one of the best rhythm sections in hard rock history, Michael Wilton still plays a great solo, and although Geoff Tate is no longer a beast, when he’s singing in his comfort zone there’s no cooler voice out there.

The band's own setlist for their show at The Fillmore

The band's own setlist for their show at The Fillmore

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ben June 8, 2009 at 7:31 am

I’m jealous! I’m trying to think back, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them live. Once again Missoula and Boise get shows, and North Carolina gets no love.


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