Queensryche gives innovative but trying concert

November 08, 1991|By Nestor Aparicio | Nestor Aparicio,Evening Sun Staff ZHC ]`B

If effort were the sole barometer in judging a concert, Queensryche's show at the Arena last night would have easily been a resounding success.

One couldn't help but be impressed by the grandeur of it all.

Just on the basis of the enormous production and the innovative idea of presenting a 3-year-old concept album in its entirety, they at least deserve a rousing round of applause.

But there was one major drawback in their plan to present an unabridged version of their most inspired piece of work.

The one-hour delivery of "Operation: Mindcrime" to end last night's main set was, in principle, a nice concept but in practice quite heavy and tiresome. Even if you did happen to own the album and were familiar with the music, it got a wee bit heavy. And to the uninitiated, it was utterly baffling.

Singer Geoff Tate must have realized, because halfway through, he stopped reading "Mindcrime" to explain "what in the hell is going on."

But don't be misled. Those moments of confusion certainly couldn't take away from what transpired before and after the presentation. Nor did it diminish their attempt to break new concert ground.

One thing's for sure -- it was hardly an ordinary show, and it was certainly very extraordinary for a hard rock show. It soon became evident, in songs like "Best I Can" and "Empire," that what began as a European-type heavy metal band in the early 1980s has grown up and into something much more special.

Tate consistently displayed his unparalleled, often unbelievable, range. Bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield provided a quality rhythm section, and twin guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton were exceptional.

Queensryche doesn't strut or primp or pose with pretty haircuts. They just deliver the music with energy, authority and enthusiasm.

And judging from the nifty video work (and more specifically its portrayal of cartoon characters), which began with a giant 747 touching ground for the opener of "Jet City Woman," the boys have seen more than one Rush concert during the last decade.

So they've learned from the best in the business.

Once the screen came to life, six songs into the set, it was used almost constantly as a weapon to inform the crowd during the most ominous songs from "Mindcrime."

In retrospect, perhaps what Queensryche was attempting was a strong art rock pitch for the '90s.

Last night they certainly behaved more like artistes than rock 'n' rollers from Seattle with a heavy metal background.

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