Last updated: 07/22/2013 01:34:13 PM
FORMED: 1981, Bellevue, WA
I stood mesmerised at Seattle's Moore Theatre, the full breath of Queensryche spiralling info focus before me as they performed their "Empire". In 1990 the song represented everything spectacular about one of hard rock's premier bands in a landscape of costumed imagery. The Seattle quintet refused to sacrifice their integrity for fashion. Thus commanding sold-out arenas by their own rules. "Empire" was a political statement from a band who weren't afraid to stretch their musical muscles beyond the traditional realms of sex, drugs and other assorted hard rock pleasantries. Geoff Tate unleashing a lyrical rhetoric deserving of the band's explosive highs and sentimental lows. Even so. Given the theatrical bombast of their tours through the 90's. It often went unnoticed that Queensryche were-albeit unknowingly-defining the parameters of progressive rock for mainstream America.
Stripped of full-blown spectacle that marked their arena runs. The Queensryche that graced the stage at the Moore Theatre put an exclamation point on the two decades of music. From the power metal pangs of their self-titled EP in '83, to the Jazz-driven rock that fuelled the '99's turn-of the millennium Q2k release. It was the band under blistering lights, no frilled attached, and fully-focused on the music at hand. That was when "Empire"-and in effect Queensryche-reached full potential. The lyrics to the song proving just as poignant in the year 2001 as they were when they were originally recorded. And the music being delivered with an urgency that rivalled any of today's chart-topping hard rock outfits.
There in the Moore Theatre I was elevated back to the atmospheric heights of "The Lady Wore Black" and "London," swept up the urgency of "NM 156" and "Queen of the Reich" and basked in the inspired depths of "Roads of Madness" and "take hold of the flame" When the songs were written, they appealed to my then-teenage tastes because they captured the essence of heavy metal and wrapped it with the melodic coil that sprang the songs to a new dimension. They were equal parts of Iron Maiden and Rush, sonically charged, rhythmically fuelled and intelligently arsenal of metal, and they remain there to this day. Still epitomising everything I look for and expect from a favourite band in a musical climate where change was frowned upon. Queensryche provided the perfect coupling of evolution and inspiration string together by a comfortable air of consistency.
In those more primitive roots the seed was planted that would blossom into the epic break through Operation: Mindcrime and Empire albums that smacked the spandex-riddled sounds of their day with an air of sophistication. Building a fortress for fans who liked their music with a more intellectual edge. With the heavy metal known for its brute force and uncompromising principles. Queensryche approached their music like a martial art-they weren't always as heavy and they clearly weren't concerned about being forceful and imposing yet they could go the distance with any of their peers in the hard rock world. They were artists and even with the renowned commercial success of their early '90s. They never lost sight of the vision that defined their rise. Queensryche never stopped growing and most importantly enabled their fans to grow along with them.
The release of Promised land in '94 cemented Queensryche status a top the prog-rock echelon, a bold and vibrant blast that catapulted Tate guitarists Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo. Bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield to a territory vastly uncharted in a sense dominated by Seattle's other bands. Released in the midst of a grunge revolution the album painted sonic landscapes that made us proud to be Queensryche fans. Singing in tune wasn't stripped in favour of tuning down and "I Am I" and "Damaged" tackled heavy-handed imagery with a depth and focus that couldn't be imitated, let alone replicated. While few would argue Mindcrime and Empire as classic albums. I hold Promised Land as their masterpiece. The creative pinnacle of the original line up's seven studio efforts.
If anyone questioned the band's future with the departure of Chris DeGramo following Hear In The Now Frontier. The introduction of guitarist Kelly Gray ushered Queensryche into a brave new world with the release of Q2K. Queensryche are chemistry. They're synergy. They electricity. And they re-found that focal point, channelling their energies into the material that proudly compliments the Queensryche catalogue. Infusing their hard work infrastructure with jazz-driven sensibilities. They continued their evolution. Again, allowing their fans to grow with them.
That evolution stood centre stage at the Moore Theatre July 27 and 28,2001, where Queensryche striped their music to the bare essentials delivering the history of their local band and our fandom-with a two night. 29 song voyage through the band's legacy. Live Evolution isn't a retrospective about a band who have left their mark on music. It is the documentation of a band who are leaving their mark on music. At the Moore Theatre, Queensryche brought their past into their present and gave us hope for the future.
Live Evolution is more than dedication, Inspiration and musical evolution. Live evolution is Queensryche .
- Paul Gargano. August 2001.