I’ll forever argue that Queensryche don’t get a fraction of the credit they deserve in the world of classic metal. I’m not saying they’re alone in that regard - Armored Saint and Lizzy Borden immediately jump to mind as well, but neither of those bands headlined arenas and amphitheaters over a three-album career arc.
So while too many people today go out of their way to nitpick and focus on everything but the music, I prefer to celebrate the music. Which is exactly what Queensryche did at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino on July 16. It was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen at the intimate Wolf Den venue, and the Seattle legends delivered a performance that made us all remember why they are one of America’s great metal forces.
There are obviously going to be omissions when you have a body of work that spans 40 years and a soon-to-be 17 studio releases - their new Digital Noise Alliance is due this October - but this night’s set deliberately played to the band’s history. Only two of the 15 tracks were newer than their 1990 Empire juggernaut - “Man the Machine” from 2019’s The Verdict, and my personal favorite Queensryche track, from my personal favorite Queensryche album, “I Am I” from 1994’s Promised Land.
Reuniting guitarist Mike Stone with founding guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson was a great move, and the addition of former Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo is a rock-solid presence behind the kit. But it’s Todd La Torre that continues to blow my mind. He had big shoes to fill, and he’s excelled at every turn, delivering the classic catalog with precision while helping navigate the band through the past decade and a return to their early form. Opening with the frenetic "The Needle Lies" and Rage For Order classic "Walk in the Shadows," La Torre rose to the occasion right out of the gate and excelled throughout the 90-minute set. If you haven't, check out Rejoice in the Suffering, his 2021 solo debut that got sadly overlooked in the wake of the pandemic.
One of my favorite bands of all time, in a venue that has become a fast favorite of mine… It was one hell of a way to spend a Saturday night!
The Needle Lies
Walk in the Shadows
I Am I
Man the Machine
Jet City Woman
Take Hold of the Flame
Queen of the Reich
Screaming in Digital
Eyes of a Stranger