Rising West Live in Seattle
Hard Rock Cafe
Saturday, June 9, 2012
By: David Resch
Queen of the Reich| Speak | Walk in the shadows | Enforce | Child of Fire | The Whisper | Warning |The Needle Lies |/Take Hold of the Flame | Prophecy | My Empty Room | Eyes of a Stranger
Wrathchild | Roads to Madness
As the sold out crowd gathered in front of the Hard Rock, near the waterfront, and the infamous Pike's Place Market (where they throw the fish for the tourists) in beautiful downtown Seattle, a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation could be felt. There have been many strange goings on in the Queensryche camp the last couple of months, ranging from stories of a physical confrontation between Geoff Tate and other members, in Brazil, while on tour, to their musically excellent, but visibly awkward and strained nationally televised performances recently at the M3 festival in Maryland and Rocklahoma. Little to no eye contact or interaction between the band, and Tate telling the crowd in Oklahoma that "they sucked" before leaving the stage towards the end of the last song and not coming back for any kind of curtain call, encore, or bows.
With the once mighty Queensryche seemingly in shambles, it was recently announced that founding members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, Scott Rockenfield, and recent addition Parker Lundgren (guitar) were forming a "side project" with Crimson Glory singer Todd LaTorre, to be called "Rising West". There seems to much conflicting information as to whether this will be the new Queensryche, or if Tate and the rest of the band will be able to patch things up eventually, but for now, the members of Rising West have pledged to go out on the road performing nothing but early Queensryche songs, with plans to enter the studio and record an album in the near future.
If the blistering performance this weekend at a sweltering Hard Rock, in front of 500 rabid hometown Queensryche fans ( and a few who flew in from places like Japan), this is going to be a band to reckoned with. True to their statement that they wished to get back to the melodic, heavy, yet progressive style of their earlier albums, they launched into "Queen of the Reich" from the first EP and for the next 90 minutes or so, had the crowd in the palm of their hands. When LaTorre cut loose with the first of many incredible bursts of powerful screams and high notes in the first minute or so, a roar of approval could be heard. Geoff Tate has been one of the best singers in the history of hard rock/metal for almost 30 years now, and still possesses an incredible voice, if not quite as strong as it was in his youth, but in Todd LaTorre, Rising West/Queensryche have found quite a replacement.
It is hard to pick out highlights from the set, as the band was on fire all night, but if I had to, I would single out The Warning, Take Hold of the Flame, Prophecy, and the encore of the Iron Maiden classic "Wrathchild," as well as an amazing "Roads To Madness."
The rhythm section of Rockenfield and Jackson deftly made their way through the complex changes, Michael Wilton skillfully laid down the intricate, powerful guitar parts and solos he and ex-partner Chris DeGarmo are so well known for, and relative newcomer Lundgren (who is only in his mid 20's and Tate's ex- son in law....awkward) more than rose to the occasion, layering rhythm guitar parts and joining Wilton here and there in swirling leads and harmonies.
Although the random keyboard parts and samples, and even some of the back up vocals are on hard drive, Jackson and Lundgren are both capable back up singers, and combined with LaTorre, the famous Queensryche vocal power was in full effect.
It was such a rare treat to see a big time, legendary band in such a small, intimate venue, and if this night is any indication, Rising West, or whatever they end up calling themselves, has the potential to be a welcome, powerful addition to the hard rock/metal/progressive scene. I, for one, am very much looking forward to what they come up with.