MANHATTAN, NY—When Queensrÿche formed as a progressive heavy metal band in 1982 in Bellevue, Washington, the original band members had no way of knowing that internal strife would develop some 30 years later to where two groups would be touring and recording under the same name. The original lineup consisted of vocalist Geoff Tate, guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield. The band fired Tate in 2012 and replaced him with Todd La Torre. The outfit fronted by La Torre then and continues to feature Wilton, Jackson and Rockenfield, as well as guitarist Parker Lundgren, who joined in 2009.
Tate also took the name of the band with him when he formed an ensemble which presently consists of former Queensrÿche guitarist Kelly Gray, who was in the group from 1998 to 2002, guitarist Robert Sarzo, keyboardist Randy Gane, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Simon Wright; vocalist Sass Jordan tours and sings on a few songs with the band as well. Although the group’s personnel changed several times over the years, Queensrÿche recorded 12 studio albums, one EP and several DVDs before the split. Since the split, both variations of Queensrÿche tour, performing the full catalogue of Queensrÿche songs, and both acts released albums in 2013. The Tate version released Frequency Unknown in April 2013 and the La Torre version released Queensrÿche in June 2013.
Geoff Tate’s version of Queensrÿche headlined the Gramercy Theatre on March 11 and performed 17 of the band’s better-known songs. Many of the songs harked back to the progressive compositions like “Operation: Mindcrime” that popularized the group in the metal and progressive scenes, and others, like “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “Silent Lucidity,” recalled the period in which they sought a larger pop radio audience. Tate’s new band played well, and was enjoyed by the fans who were hearing the original versions of the songs in their heads.
There were a couple of problems, however. Firstly, Tate’s vocals were fine, but less than stellar; he carried the songs, but was not an outstanding vocalist. Secondly, the progressive metal genre has, well, progressed since Operation: Mindcrime made Queensrÿche a headlining act. Dozens of newer bands have taken complex metal compositions to far more impressive levels, while Queensrÿche remained stagnant, nurturing a career on what now seems like primitive progressive music. Bands like Opeth, Mastodon, Between The Buried And Me, Meshuggah, Periphery, Protest The Hero, Porcupine Tree, Anathema and even Animals As Leaders have elevated the bar from the era of Queensrÿche, Dream Theater and Tool. Tonight’s Queensrÿche was a snapshot of a bygone era; the performance failed to enter the 21st century.
Visit Queensrÿche featuring Geoff Tate at queensryche.com.