CONCERT REVIEW: Queensryche / Type O Negative – Toronto Ontario, July 27, 1995, Molson Amphitheatre

I’m a pack rat.  I keep everything.  I just dug up this vintage concert review.  I wrote this the day after the concert, so memories were fresh!  I’ve made some minor cleanups, but otherwise this is completely as-is, warts-and-all, somewhat embarrassing and a bit too long winded.  For what it’s worth, enjoy!  You might never find a more detailed write-up of the Promised Land tour!

SAM_2121

QUEENSRYCHE / TYPE O NEGATIVE – Toronto Ontario, July 27, 1995, Molson Amphitheatre

(written by Mike Ladano, on July 28 1995, never published)

On July 27 1995, Queensryche, possibly the only great progressive rock band that is still progressing, conquered the Molson Amphitheatre in triumph.  The road has been long and hard for these boys, they put out their first vinyl in 1983.  Despite all the changes in rock today, Queensryche came out and put on one high-tech wonder of a show that rocked and stimulated.

The band opened with the taped intro of “9:28 am”, the opening track of the Promised Land CD.  Their stage was bare, except for two platforms, a keyboard and a drum kit.  The drum kit was encased in plexiglass, which seemed unusual at the time.  [I know now that this was to keep the drums from bleeding into other microphones on stage.]  One could pick out dozens of lasers, lights and effects just waiting to be used.  Behind the stage were two monstrous projection screens, much like the band used on the Empire tour.

After the intro, Chris DeGarmo, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield roared onto the stage with “I Am I” which was accompanied by a video of Geoff Tate wandering though a desert encountering all sorts of strange mirages based on the lies of the American Dream.  Then the Tatemeister himself appeared on stage, wearing suit and tie, and being hounded by a half dozen journalists harassing him all over the stage.  It was, of course, all part of the show.

The band segued from there straight into “Damaged”, just as they do on record.  The press ripped off Tate’s suit, leaving him in a pair of bicycle shorts.  The band continued to rage through this song, complete with distorted vocal effects from the album.

The band took a breather there, playing their acoustic hit single “Bridge”, a “Cats In the Cradle” story about Chris DeGarmo’s father.  Again, this came with constant bombardment of images on the backing screens.  It was extremely difficult to stay focused on any one thing on stage, however, Geoff Tate is a very animated frontman; moving and contorting about, acting out his words, while he and the video screens fight for attention.

From here, the band took a trip down memory lane that I’ll not soon forget.  Upon entering, I said I wanted to hear old obscure Queensryche.  I wanted to hear “Neue Regel” and “NM 156”.  The band went right into those songs, as well as “Screaming In Digital” from Rage For Order.   For these songs (which used distorted computerized vocals before Trent Reznor had even envisioned such a thing), Tate sang like a computer or a Dalek from Dr. Who.  Then, when a burst of power was needed, the distortion would come off, and Tate would rip his lungs out with vocals from hell.

Geoff Tate’s voice was stronger here than the way I remembered it from the video footage of the Empire tour, which was nice to see.  He did falter, especially on those incredible highs, but this was also refreshing:  It meant he was not relying on backing tapes.  The entire band played well, never straying too far from their recorded album parts, but just enough for there to be an audible difference.

“My Global Mind”, a song about the information superhighway and the artificial ties it makes between nations, contained some disturbing film footage:  Saddam Hussein, and children starving in Africa.

SAM_2130

I always said Scott Rockenfield was Queensryche’s version of Rush’s Neil Peart, and last night he proved this.  With his hair shorn, and receding hairline revealed, he now not only sounds like Peart but looks like Peart!  Encased behind the plexiglass, he played with precision and power, even more so than on the album.  Chris DeGarmo had also cut his hair short(er) which was disappointing.  He used to have Godlike hair!

The band kicked into overdrive, playing tunes from the landmark Operation: Mindcrime album.  Their heaviest material came on even heavier live, with more power in the bass, drums and vocals.  From that album, they played in sequence:  “I Remember Now” (a taped intro with the same cartoon video footage that they used on the last tour), “Anarchy-X”, “Revolution Calling”, “Operation: Mindcrime”, “Spreading the Disease” (Geoff Tate sticks microphone in his pants and makes interesting movements), “The Mission”, and to close off the Mindcrime portion, “Eyes of a Stranger”.  For this conceptual section, Tate came out dressed as the album’s protagonist Nikki, in leather pants and jacket, shedding the shorts.

“Empire”, which came across as brutally heavy live, was accompanied by the drug-dealing video footage from their MTV video, but with added stuff as well, which made it more fun to watch.

Queensryche played the entire Promised Land album from start to finish [but not in sequence] which came as a surprise to everyone.  What came as even more of a surprise was how well this densely layered recording came off, live.

SAM_2124

The title track, “Promised Land”, was most interesting.  As a film played of Tate and his family buying a home (and of course not being able to afford it), the roadies ripped apart the stage and set up something else in darkness.  Then, the lights came on.  On stage was now a bar, a few tables with a ton of patrons (roadies and the drummer [Johnny Kellyfrom Type O Negative), and a tiny little stage off to the side, where a second drum kit now sat.

The band walked through the bar dressed in matching suits, just like any lounge act.  They played some piano-based barroom jazz number until, now assembled on that tiny postage stamp sized stage, they rumbled into “Promised Land”.  Tate sat at the bar, wearing pink shirt and beige pants (matching his get-up from the video footage), singing this song of disillusion.  This was also the first live appearance of his saxophone.  Just like on the album, he would play sax breaks in between verses.

Although this is one of the most serious songs you would ever want to hear, this was the last show of the tour, and it was time for the road crew to cut loose with some comedy.  One of the bar patrons slow-danced center stage with a blow-up doll through the entire 8 minute song!

The videos came back on as the bar set was torn down, and again replaced with the plastic-encased drum kit.  The band rumbled into “Disconnected”, with more saxophone.

Before “Out of Mind”, Tate began with a speech about people who might be viewed as different.  “You…your hair’s not the right length.  And your hair’s just…not the right colour.  What would you do if one day, those men in white coats came knocking on your door?”

From behind, a butt-ugly roadie dressed as a nurse in a yellow wig put Tate into a wheelchair.  (Normally, an actress plays the nurse, but like I said, this was closing night!)  Tate sang the song from the chair, using a mirror as a prop.  He would sing into the mirror while a hidden camera filmed his reflection, and projected it onto the big screens.

The band closed their set with a predictable final tune.  Of course, it had to be “Silent Lucidity”.  For this song, five large transparent curtains came down on stage, concealing the drums and Chris DeGarmo.  Suddenly, laser projectors came on, and presented amazing dream-like images onto those curtains, giving the illusion that they were suspended in air.

The crowd, as expected, went absolutely bonkers for this song, singing along to every word.  Bowing, Queensryche left the stage in triumph….

SAM_2127

…And returned with their early classic, “Take Hold Of the Flame” from their very first full-length album, The Warning.  Of course, this went over amazingly.  There were some diehard fans in this audience who knew the words to even the most obscure music that Queensryche could throw at them.

Queensryche ended their encore with perhaps the greatest song they have ever written:  “Someone Else?”  Chris DeGarmo played piano, Michael Wilton played some quiet backing guitar, and Scott Rockenfield added some cymbals.  It was hard not to be blown away by Tate’s extremely emotional voice during this piece.  If anything, Tate is even more emotional live than on record.

And that was the end, the band finally leaving in triumph, for real this time.

According to some in the audience, Queensryche’s stage show topped Pink Floyd.  Believe it.  This was, by far, the greatest rock show I have ever seen.  I can’t imagine anyone, even Queensryche themselves, topping this.  This was not heavy metal:  This was theatre, and it was so fucking refreshing to see in this back-to-basics era of grunge blockheads like Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

All hail the mighty Queen of the Reich.

We missed the first few tracks from openers Type O Negative, but we could hear them just fine while eating.  They opened with “Blood and Fire” from their new album, Bloody Kisses.  We caught them halfway into the second tune, the incredible “Christian Woman”.  They then played an older tune about suicide [title long forgotten].  Said vocalist Peter Steele:  “This is a song about suicide, which we fully recommend.  I know when I get old and my body is no longer useful to society, I am going to throw myself off a building, and hopefully land on someone I hate.”  Gotta love them Type O Guys.  [Sadly, Peter Steele never had the chance to get old.]

They played only two more songs, “Too Late: Frozen” and of course “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)”.  Speaking of scary, these guys were not all that pleasant to look at.  Josh Silver, the keyboard player, has got to be the ugliest son of a bitch on the face of the Earth.  Peter Steele looks like he sleeps in a coffin.  Musically however, these guys were better live than on album.  On record, they come across somewhat wimpy.  Live, they are heavier and more energized.

5/5 stars

More Queensryche:

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part I

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part II

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part III

Mike Ladano: Exclusive EDDIE JACKSON interview, part IV

Advertisements

25 comments

  1. What a trip down memory lane! Thanks so much for posting this… my memory of the gig is getting a bit hazy now but I remember it being one of the best gigs ever. So glad I got to see them with Chris still in the band.

    There’s a few theatrics mentioned that I don’t remember at all.. the nurse in Out of Mind and the Bar during Promised Land. Maybe I’ve just forgotten that but I think the show I saw might have had some of that scaled down maybe. Still had the screens and the press stuff at the start which I thought was incredible.

    Brilliant show!

    Like

    1. In my interview with Eddie Jackson, he commented on the bar setup (apparently they had rippers one night) so I know I wasn’t imagining it!

      This was a really early concert experience for me…before I even saw Alice, Kiss, or Rush. So obviously it had a HUGE impact. I had seen Sabbath a few days earlier but that was in a bar. Nothing like this.

      Like

      1. I can’t remember quite where it fit in my concert life. I doubt I’d seen anything that theatrical but I had seen Slayer, KISS and Maiden I think… maybe Megadeth too.

        I saw QR at the Barrowlands which is a great venue but not the usual size for a show like that. I imagine they might have scaled it down a bit for that reason. Or maybe I’ve just plain forgotten!

        Like

        1. I have a Marillion live album – Live at the Barrowlands!

          Add them to my list of bands I still need to see.

          My buddies all saw them live, here, on the Seasons End tour. They have pics of them playing pool with Mark Kelly.

          Like

  2. We had incredible seats that night… I forgot about the lounge set… Thanks for the trip back… I loved those guys back then…

    Like

  3. Well that was certainly an exhaustive report!Your enthusiasm was infectious, though.

    KNowing what we know now, we can only assume that thos reorters at the start were hounding Stabby with questions like “When did you get so stabby, Stabby?” and “Are you carrying a concealed, edged weapon right now, Stabby?” and “Are you aware that the caterers backstage counted the silverware before they laid it out in the dressing room?”

    Like

    1. Ahh, the benefit of hindsight! At the time I NEVER could have imagined Tate capable of such idiotic, violent behaviour. At the time he (and the band) had reputations as the nice guys, the intelligentsia of rock.

      As Tom said, it sucks to see your heroes as they really are. Ahh well. I won’t let Tate taint my memories of an awesome show.

      Like

    1. I only happened to see them In London on this tour. It was a surprise gig, tix went on sale a few days before the actual show, which my friends and I managed to score scalped tix right outside the door. I believe this show was recorded by the band for posterity and songs released on subsequent reissues. I don’t recall what was played but did manage to end up like 3 deep in the crowd right in front of Degarmo. I had pretty much no use for the Ryche at this point, being fairly into other progressive but more obscure music, so whatever they played must have seemed nostalgic to meat the time. At one point I had their complete discography but never got into anything past Empire. This might have been a record release type gig, very limited promotion and a fairly small venue. Definetly had more fun at the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion gig I saw there.

      Mike, funny thing. At the time, as I do now in fact I had pretty long hair, the bulk of which caused people to refer me as that Sammy Hagar looking bloke. My friend had a rapist like wit and somewhat resmblance to Jim Carrey. So this mutual friend of ours hooked us up with a girl who wanted to see the show. We were told to look out for a cute blond girl with a Fat Albert hat who would meet us at our tube station. There we stood Sammy Hagar and Jim Carrey, outside Bayswater waiting for that. Waited and waited in fact. and waited. I’m definetly sure we were easier to spot that she was. She finally arrived and off we went to Tottenham Court Rd. to the Astoria for the Ryche.

      Like

      1. Craig I have a series of B-sides from that Astoria show. That’s incredible. They made up the 2 CD Bridge single. I’ll have to pull that out and review it for you.

        Did you guys ever play up the Sammy Hagar and Jim Carrey thing? I’m sure you could turn some heads in public!

        Like

  4. The one item you forgot to mention about the lounge set-up was the bar fight! The reason I remember this is that my ex crewed this tour and during the set change, he dragged me on stage and sat me at the “bar”… the gag was then that there’d be a “fight” started – they even had sugar bottles to bust over each other’s heads. What an awesome memory…lol!

    Liked by 1 person

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s