GIG REVIEW: Queensrÿche, Armored Saint & Midnight Eternal Live at The Waiting Room, Omaha
Tuesday, December 13th was one of the better nights that I have had in 2016. I went to go see Queensrÿche, Armored Saint, and Midnight Eternal perform live at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska. Each band put on a very solid performance and I was very impressed.
The first band to play was Midnight Eternal. They are a five-piece, Symphonic metal band from New York City. Formed in 2014, the band released a 2-song self-titled EP last year, and a self-titled full-length this April. To be honest, Symphonic metal isn’t really my cup of tea, but I still enjoyed seeing this band. Midnight Eternal performed a 7-song, 30 minute setlist and had a solid stage presence the whole time. The vocalist Raine Hilai, had an amazing range and great pipes. She was also very gorgeous, and could easily be a finalist in The Voice if she wanted to be. The guitarist, Richard Fischer (who is also in the bands Ashenveil and Operatika Element) had a really impressive volume for being the only axeman in the group. He had the ability to sound like the band had twin guitarists. The bassist Greg Manning, Keyboardist Boris Zaks, and the drummer Dan Prestup were also virtuoso like in their skill sets, leading to a great overall live sound. My favorite song that they performed was “Signs of Fire,” the third track in their set. I would absolutely see them again if they came back to town.
The legendary Armored Saint was up next. Armored Saint has been one of my favorite bands ever since I discovered them back in 10th grade, seven years ago. The traditional heavy metal gods, and in my opinion the most underrated band of all-time played a 10-song, 45 minute setlist. It was just as great as I had hoped. They opened up with “Win Hands Down,” the title track to their 2015 album. After performing their 2nd song “March of the Saint,” vocalist John Bush stated that it was the first time Armored Saint had played a live show in Omaha in over 25 years. I wasn’t yet alive the last time they had been in the area, so I felt like I was witnessing history. I was standing in the second row, and I was about 10 feet away from guitarist Jeff Duncan and 15 or so from drummer Gonzo Sandoval. Gonzo’s brother Phil, who is the other guitarist and Bassist Joey Vera were no more than 25 feet away. They were a solid, solid unit and it was by far one of my favorite concerts of all-time. John Bush will forever be my favorite studio and live vocalist. Armored Saint’s studio albums are timeless classics, but they were even better live. As a die-hard fan, the only flaw to their set was their set time. For a band that has been around since 1982 and has made so many amazing tracks, I thought it was unfair that they only got 45 minutes on the stage. However, they made the best of it and played 10 classic tracks, ending with arguably their biggest hit “Can U Deliver.” Armored Saint absolutely delivered. I bought an autographed drumhead to commemorate my experience.
The final band to play on Wednesday was Queensrÿche. I’ve always liked Queensrÿche, but they were never one of my go-to bands. I will probably listen to them more frequently now, however. They played a 13 song setlist that lasted over an hour. They were the only of the 3 bands to have an motion picture visual around them during their performance. Throughout their set, there were two giant screens on stage presenting videos that went along with the themes of the music. It’s something that you would expect from the progressive metal legends who are known for the musical and lyrical complexity and concept albums. The opening track they played was “Guardian” off their newest release, Condition Human from 2015. Vocalist Todd La Torre (who replaced original frontman Geoff Tate in 2012) sang with a tremendous falsetto and had an enormous stage presence throughout the show. He had the ability to pump up an already very excited crowd. Guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield, did a tremendous job backing him. Unlike Midnight Eternal and Armored Saint, a high fraction of the audience knew the lyrics and sang along. This makes sense, because Queensrÿche has sold over 20 million records worldwide and gained massive popularity throughout the late 80s and early 90s.
Almost half of Queensrÿche’s set made up of songs from their two most popular albums, Operation: Mindcrime from 1988 and Empire from 1990. The power ballad “Silent Lucidity,” which is the bands biggest hit was performed midway through the show, which I thought was a great placement for the song. Queensrÿche closed with their 1988 hit “Eyes of a Stranger.” One of the bands signature songs, “I Don’t Believe in Love” was surprisingly missing from their setlist. Queensrÿche has been a band for over 34 years now, and after seeing them live, I hope they stay around for at least 34 more. I tip my hats off to them, they absolutely kicked ass!