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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Friday, March 15, 2019 @ 2:02 PM

With THE CRINGE At The Worcester Palladium, March 10th, 2019

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At one point in time, QUEENSRYCHE was my favorite band. I saw them six times in concert, through the Q2K touring cycle. From that point forward, the band's fortunes faded due to a combination of reduced interest, some truly horrific albums and the ever so well documented fragmenting of the band that ended with Geoff Tate out of the band.

So it has been nearly 20 years since I've seen QUEENSRYCHE in a live setting and never with singer Todd La Torre fronting the band. My one lament about his replacing Tate is that he sounds so much like their ex-singer it comes off feeling like it is just a QUEENSRYCHE tribute band. Well, at least that's how I felt at the start of his run with the band.

But a funny thing happened with their previous album Condition Human. The band's music finally started sounding pretty darn good to me again! And the vocal similarities began to bother me less and less. With the band releasing their new album The Verdict and headed out on tour to a venue near me, it was time to check out what QUEENSRYCHE had to offer once again.

First up on the bill was THE CRINGE, which had the unfortunate quality of living up to their name. I was completely unfamiliar with the band's music beforehand and nothing they did really made me want to change that. More a rock band than a metal band, their seven song set included a mid-song break to cover BLACK SABBATH's "Paranoid" and closed out with a cover of THIN LIZZY's "Jailbreak". I spent more time looking at the crowd for their reaction to the band than I did at the stage. Judging from what I saw, they didn't really seem to make much of an impression. It's not that they were particularly bad but they weren't particularly good either. On top of which, their inclusion on the bill meant that FFATES WARNING had a shorter stage time for their set. Musically speaking, this was a bad thing. FATES WARNING should've been the sole opening band and played for an hour leading into QUEENSRYCHE.

As it was, I was worried that they might be a repeat of the only other time I saw them in concert. It was when they opened for SAVATAGE in Connecticut on the latter band's tour for Poets and Madmen. And I was well and truly bored by their performance on that night. Thankfully, I was extremely happy to see that they instead rocked out the place! It was fantastic to see them perform on this night even with the shorter set.

Ostensibly touring for both their Theories of Flight studio album and the Live Over Europe live album, the band included three songs from Theories of Flight in the set. I have to confess that while I did buy the album when it was originally released in 2016, I still haven't actually listened to it. There's no excuse other than I just haven't gotten to it.

But while prior familiarity was lacking, it didn't stop me from enjoying two of the three songs when they were offered up live. The set opened with "From The Rooftops" from Theories of Flight. It started off almost like an afterthought, a very tame intro that would eventually lead into a more explosive rocking performance. I wasn't as crazy about this song as I was the other two Theories of Flight songs in the set though.

At one point, singer Ray Alder mentioned that the crowd was "quiet as fuck". While that was true, I thought it gave more atmosphere to their performance for some reason. However, after that the crowd really started becoming more involved in the show. There were people in the crowd in front of me who were rocking hard to each and every note and vocal turn.

While I did lament the fact that FATES WARNING didn't play some songs that I would've liked to have heard ("Anarchy Divine", "Silent Cries" and "Through Different Eyes"), I can't fault the song selection they did put together.

"Life In Still Water" from Parallels was fantastic and "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III" was immensely satisfying. Since the Disconnected album is a particular favorite of mine, I loved hearing "One" and "Pieces Of Me".

The band was in fine form. Unlike the first time I saw the band where he basically stood in the back of the stage for the whole show, guitarist Jim Matheos was out front all night and really seemed into the show. Alder was in great voice and Joey Vera was amazing. It was a bit strange to see him with FATES WARNING (despite his long association with them) after seeing him in an entirely different manner with ARMORED SAINT last year, but man that guy is phenomenal.

While my concert buddy George wasn't taken with "The Light and Shade of Things", I thought it was pretty darn good.

As the band closed out with "Falling Further", Ray Alder left the stage telling the crowd that they'd see them in 2020 with a new album. Judging by the very enthusiastic response to his statement and the band's performance, the crowd will be eager with anticipation.

It was a simply thrilling, albeit shortened, concert performance from FATES WARNING that made my musical heart go pitter-patter just a bit.

Set List

  • "From The Rooftops"
  • "Life In Still Water"
  • "One"
  • "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III"
  • "Seven Stars"
  • "Pieces Of Me"
  • "The Light and Shade of Things"
  • "Falling Further"

After a short intermission, it was time for QUEENSRYCHE to take the stage. The stage set up with video monitors playing a key role during the show was a bit understated in comparison to other band's shows but they were still used quite effectively. The best individual visual effect might've been the flames rising up through the drum riser to the front facing part of the drum set. The overall visual was amazing.

While I had only heard the new album The Verdict in its entirety the day of the show, I had listened to three of the songs that the band had put out to hype the release. While "Dark Reverie" didn't make the set, the show opened with "Blood Of The Levant", a new song that rocks harder and is far better in a live setting than with the video for the song.

Since the band is focusing on moving forward with their continued existence and not being tied to their past quite so heavily, the set list contained a number of their newer songs. However, they aren't forgetting their past either. They offered up a number of classic tracks on the night and they were adept choices in my book since they included one of my all-time favorite QUEENSRYCHE songs, "NM 156". I certainly wasn't expecting to hear that one until I looked up the set list prior to heading to the show. And it was outstanding. Todd LaTorre really knocked out that particular vocal.

During the first two-thirds of the show, the band sounded great. I wasn't crazy about the slower parts of "Condition Human" but when the song was at a faster pace, it was pretty good. The only real annoying thing during this portion of the show was the recurring bit of Todd La Torre playing a small drum set during the instrumental breaks of certain songs. As my friend George said, "Okay, we get it! You can play the drums". I think he should've just left the drum work to Casey Grillo, the guy actually getting paid to provide the rhythmic foundation for the band.

The song "Man The Machine" is one of my favorite new songs off of The Verdict and it seemed to be just as powerful live as on CD. Reaching back to the beginning, QUEENSRYCHE had a superb run through on "Queen Of The Reich" as well.

I'm not surprised that "Silent Lucidity" was performed as it is their signature hit song. However, even though La Torre introduced the song by relating the story of a long time friend being put into hospice care and how the song affected him, I couldn't help being disdainful of the song. It got played so much when it was released that it became annoying to me and that factor hasn't disappeared for me. And though it made me feel a little bit like a heel as La Torre asked for the crowd's help getting through the song due to the emotions he was dealing with, I still thought of the song as "Latent Stupidity".

After that song was mercifully over, the band's renewed focus on a heavier sound took over once again. I loved "Selfish Lies" a lot and before "Light-Years", La Torre noted that The Verdict producer Chris "Zeuss" Harris was in the house for the show.

It was at this point that the band's set list turned towards the past for the remainder of the show. Seeing "Screaming In Digital" and "Take Hold Of The Flame" once more in concert gave me a nostalgic charge of adrenaline.

But the end of the show is where the sound quality seemed to dip a little bit. I don't know if it was the microphone or Todd's voice itself, but the vocal dropped out a few times and as the band closed out the regular set with "Eyes Of A Stranger", the song seemed a bit off in the execution. It was as if they were playing it slower. The ending guitar part from Michael Wilton came off as if he stepped all over the riff. It just came off quite strange to me.

The encore featured "Jet City Woman", which was solid and the shortened version (they dropped the mid-song spoken word part) of "Empire" which brought the show to a resounding finish.

It wasn't perfect but it was a solidly entertaining concert. This concert felt more like a QUEENSRYCHE show than the last two times I saw the band. Those shows were atrocious. And after seeing him live, I'm now FULLY on board with Todd La Torre as the singer in QUEENSRYCHE. He worked his butt off and I came away with a new appreciation for his work overall.

The Verdict?... QUEENSRYCHE is a bundle of renewed metallic energy that despite some hiccups only whetted the appetite for what comes next.

Set List

  • "Blood of the Levant"
  • "I Am I"
  • "NM 156"
  • "Man The Machine"
  • "Condition Human"
  • "Queen of the Reich"
  • "Silent Lucidity"
  • "Open Road"
  • "Selfish Lives"
  • "Screaming In Digital"
  • "Light-Years"
  • "Take Hold of the Flame"
  • "Eyes of a Stranger"
  • "Jet City Woman"
  • "Empire"
CONCERT FUN FACT: Well, perhaps this should be a NOT fun fact. When I hit the merchandise booth before the concert, I was all set to buy a T-shirt with the tour dates on the back. However, whomever was in charge of the dates for the two QUEENSRYCHE shirts that had them can't discern the difference between Worcester (where the concert was held) and Boston (the city listed on the shirt). Call me picky if you will but that kind of inaccurate listing made me not buy either of those two shirts, despite their really cool design on the front. I settled for a simpler design without the dates. Oh, and I did check to see if the FATES WARNING shirts had a similar error, but they had Worcester on their shirts.

Worcester Palladium - http://www.thepalladium.net

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