First things first: since late 2012, there are currently two bands touring and recording under the name Queensrÿche after an unceremonious dispute between original lead Vocalist Geoff Tate and the rest of the band. Tate continues to tour with former guitarist Kelly Gray and others; while the rest of the 2012 lineup enrolled singer Todd La Torre to take up vocal duties. The latter is the ensemble that grace the Button Factory tonight with their progressive heavy metal, on the fifth show of an extensive European tour.
La Torre was just a 10 year old boy when Queensrÿche released their debut album in 1984 and his presence breathes a new lease of life and gusto into the band. His vocal chords are in great shape, and from the very start, he confidently commands the stage with visible enthusiasm and excitement. Interacting with the audience regularly during the show, he high-five’s, winks, and gives thumbs-up to individual fans – particularly to those shouting praise and requests between songs. A drummer since the age of seven, La Torre also takes every opportunity to share the drum kit with percussionist Scott Rockenfield, smashing cymbals with his fists and even playing along occasionally with a set of sticks.
Despite having sold over 20 million albums worldwide and 3 Grammy nominations, Queensrÿche never garnered the fanbase that contemporary artists like Iron Maiden amassed, meaning that while Maiden have played to the O2 and RDS in recent years, Queensrÿche must content themselves with the Button Factory. That’s probably not ideal for the band or their earnings, but it’s great for their fans to experience tonight’s show in such an intimate venue.
It has long been considered a fashion faux-pas in heavy metal circles to wear a t-shirt bearing the name of the band you are about to see (unless you have just forked out more than the ticket price at the merchandise stand to add the current tour shirt to your wardrobe). Thanks to this, it’s easy to analyse the musical tastes of those in the button factory tonight. Saxon, Rush, Kreator, Motörhead and Maiden are all within eyeshot. The old school metallers are here in their droves tonight, and The Button Factory is densely packed, hot and sweaty. The large turnout is even more impressive considering another old-school eighties hardcore band, Biohazard, are playing the even more intimate Fibber Magees on the other side of the Liffey on the same night.
Early in the set, ‘The Needle Lies’ from the highly acclaimed 1988 concept album Operation: Mindcrime is kicked off with a head to head guitar duel between Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren. Bassist Eddie Jackson joins them, as all three stand shoulder to shoulder, front of stage, riffing their way to the climax of the song.
The setlist includes a fan-pleasing selection from the original Queensrÿche twelve-album back catalogue, as well as just four tracks from their eponymous album released last June. Despite the limited live offering of the new material, La Torre humbly asks the fans to go out and buy the new album and to support the band. Perhaps they might need the cash in the legal battle over the use of the band name, logo and royalties.
Before the encore, La Torre asks for the houselights while he introduces the band and thanks and compliments the crowd for their participation and appreciation. “As much as you applaud us, we applaud you” he remarks. And there was plenty of applause from the crowd after the finale of their impressive performance which seemed to satisfy everyone.
Photo by Olga Kuzmenko. See full photo gallery here.