Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
April 14, 2016 | Santa Ynez, CA – The walls of the Samala showroom at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez literally shook, Thursday night April 14th, as the veteran heavy metal group Queensryche, began their ear piercing set. The band from Bellevue Washington has recorded 14 studio albums and sold over 30 million records since their formation in 1982. The group is currently on the 2016 Condition Human tour, promoting last years album of the same name.
There were actually two separate bands legally touring under the name Queensryche for the last several years. Original lead singer Geoff Tate left the group unceremoniously in 2012 and sued to temporarily keep the name. But most of the other original members, who also continued to tour as Queensryche, eventually settled the suit and are now the sole heirs to the revered moniker. The band now consists of three of the original members, including guitarist Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield. Second guitarist Parker Lundgren joined the group in 2009. Lead vocalist Todd La Torre had the daunting task of replacing Tate in 2012. Tate is widely regarded as one of the best wailing vocalists in the genre, often bringing the bands early work, comparisons to heavy metal legends Iron Maiden. Oddly enough La Torre, hailing from Florida on the other side of the country, had been a rock drummer for 24 years, and only became a singer in 2010. But after hearing him perform, guitarist Wilton knew he had found the new lead singer for Queensryche and La Torre has proven he is up to the task.
The band opened their set with “Guardian” from the latest album. As soon as guitarist Wilton took the stage, it was apparent why he has garnered the nickname, The Whip, for how fast his fingers “whip” around the guitar frets. His blistering solos became the driving force of the band throughout the night.
Next the band broke into the song “Operation Mindcrime” which brought the crowd to their feet for the remainder of the night. The set continued with “Best I Can” and a mix of songs from the albums “Rage For Order,” “Empire” and “Mindcrime.” Halfway through the set, the band performed “In This Light” from the 2013 album, which was the first album written by the current line up, and proved to be an innovative new direction for the band.
But for many in the crowd, the highlight came later when the group broke out their classic early material. The crowd stormed the front of the stage, when the band began to perform the classic, “Queen Of The Reich,” followed by “Jet City Woman,” and “Take Hold Of The Flame”. These older songs seemed to step up the energy level a giant notch, with louder sound and amazing lighting and stage effects adding to the crescendo.
By the time the band returned for a two song encore, they were literally swarmed by adoring fans at the foot of the stage. The encore started with an epic thundering drum solo by Rockenfield. The sweat drenched band then tore into the last to numbers. The double encore added twenty minutes to their extended set, which lasted nearly two hours. Long live the Queen.
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