The verdict is in, Queensryche still rocks after all these years.
After a tumultuous decade, they have entered 2020 with a renewed energy and vigor. This past Saturday night I experienced the new live stage show for this year’s Verdict tour. And I have to say I was most impressed. Opening support for the band on this run is NYC rockers Eve to Adam with direct support coming from guitarist extraordinaire, the one and only John 5.
Eve to Adam hit the stage with their high-energy brand of hard rock full force. I saw the crowd respond to them very positively. Though there was a faction who weren’t familiar with the band and their songs, they were very easy to get into. Their songs had good grooves with powerful vocals. Though their set was short, the crowd really got into the material especially when they kicked into their cover of Robert Tepper’s classic “No Easy Way Out”, originally made famous on the Rocky IV soundtrack. Vocalist Taki Sassaris belting out his emotional take on the song along with the distorted guitar and strong drums really elevated the song and brought the crowd to it’s feet. Actually I think if Rocky Balboa had this version to listen to Ivan Drago would have gone down in the 3rd round. Very supercharged… The band also brought a light to a cause that they fully support- Operation: 22 Dreams Come True which is trying to combat and bring and end to Military Veteran Suicide. I will have a link to this cause at the bottom of this page. When they kicked into their last song “Immortal”, Taki hopped off stage and let a VERY rabid fan in the front row share vocal duties with him.
As John 5 hit the stage walking through the inflatable lawn ornament made to look like the entranceway to an evil circus his guitar skills went into full overdrive. John is truly one of the most inventive and unique guitarists out there today. Mixing classical legato modalities along with Southern inspired “chicken picking” then switching to a staccato bluesy lead line all in the same song, John 5 gives it all that he can. Both playful and silly but extremely serious and dedicated to his guitar craft he was in the zone all night long. There seemed to be a number of people in the crowd who I heard talking about how they weren’t familiar with his solo work, just his work with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson. But after this showing I’m sure that he gained a number of new fans. A few songs into his set he addressed the audience by welcoming them and letting them know that he has always considered the Northeast crowds to be some of the wildest and craziest around so he needed to bring his “A” game, which I can assure you he did.
Cutting through songs like Zoinks, Howdy and Season of the Witch before introducing on bass Ian Ross and on drums Logan Nix before introducing both himself and his next song as I Am John 5. After this, John took a moment to announce that there was a very special person in attendance who helped to create the musician that he is today. That person was none other than original drummer of the band Kiss, Peter Criss. This then launched the band into a super tribute medley starting with Kiss’s Detroit Rock City, then switching to Rush’s Limelight and Fly By Night, then switching gears to White Zombie’s Thunder Kiss ‘65. This then segued into Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People which then became Soundgarden’s Spoonman, then Motley Crue’s Dr Feelgood, and then switched to a little Van Halen with Unchained and finally ending it with a bit of Pantera’s I’m Broken and Walk. And in true John 5 fashion- he played the Star Spangled Banner using his teeth to pick the strings which did indeed wow the crowd and left them in a bit of a frenzy as he left the stage.
Queensryche’s fans had been slowly coming into the Starland all night. When I got to the venue, the lot was less than half full. As they took the stage to a packed house, it was evident that we were in for a great time. Kicking their set off with the classic ”Prophecy” you can tell something is different with this incarnation of the band. There seems to be a new cohesion which has no drama. The songs are fluid and smooth. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren seamlessly moved across the stage while delivering the awesome guitar-work that the band is known for. Singer Todd La Torre showed that he IS the voice of the band. As he sang some of the classics such as ”Walk In the Shadows” much like the album versions of his predecessor, he added his own flair to it, making the vocals his own. He can hit the highs and the lows all the while keeping the crowd firmly in the grasp of his hand. And the whole while you could tell everyone on stage was genuinely having a good time playing together. There were a number of smiles going back and forth between the bandmates during a bunch of the songs.Even during the aforementioned ”Walk in the Shadows” there’s a guitar piece where Lundgren and Wilton stood next to each other and harmonizing together and you could see they were almost fighting to NOT smile because it’s obvious they’re all having a good, if not great time playing together. This was not a band just going through the motions.
The setlist was a great mix of classics along with songs from their more recent work including the band’s newest album, The Verdict. One mainstay of the band is bassist Eddie Jackson. Though he does share in backing vocal duties, he’s not a flashy but he has always been Mr Reliable during his career in the band. Providing a the bass lines and keeping time with new drummer (ex-Kamelot) Casey Grillo. While Casey wasn’t in the spotlight he really did a phenomenal job on every song behind his bandmates.
Even when they kicked into probably their most popular and famous song “Silent Lucidity”, you could hear and see the band watching the crowd singing along, giving them a renewed vigor just in time for “Jet City Woman” off of Empire and the explosive “Screaming in Digital” off of Rage for Order followed by the band’s namesake song “Queen of the Reich”.
Then it was off for a few moments before encore time. When the band came back out they kicked into a good four song encore beginning with ”No Sanctuary” followed by the new track “Light-years” then “Empire” and finishing up a super powerful rendition of “Eyes of A Stranger”
I can say assuredly if this tour is hitting your area, GO SEE IT. It would be well worth your time.
Eve to Adam Setlist
Locked & Loaded
No Easy Way Out
John 5 Setlist
Intro-Season of the Witch
Black Grass Plague
I Am John 5
Walk in the Shadows
Man the Machine
Take Hold of the Flame
The Needle Lies
Breaking the Silence
Jet City Woman
Screaming in Digital
Queen of the Reich
Eyes of a Stranger
(with “Anarchy-X” outro)
22 Dreams Come True
Follow the Mission
Queensryche still have some gigs left with John 5 and Eve To Adam. Check out the gig dates below:
Thu. 2/20- Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, Maryland
Fri. 2/21- House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Sat. 2/22- The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina
Tue. 2/25- Mars Music Hall in Huntsville, Alabama
Wed. 2/26- Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Thu. 2/27- The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida
For tickets and further information on “The Verdict Tour” click here.
Fans can find Queensryche at the following locations: