On a warm spring evening, legends of 80s metal, Queensryche, brought their presence full circle by returning to Baltimore in full force. My best friend and I saw Queensryche co-headline with Metallica in 1992 during the height of both of the bands’ careers. It seemed so surreal to see Queensryche playing new and old songs alike, not only at a small local venue but with a different singer as well. I lost my best friend in 2019 to metastatic lung cancer. This review goes out to her.
Having no historical knowledge of the first band-up, Trauma, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Upon their entry onto the stage, I really wanted to judge this book by its cover. Trauma consists of 5 individuals, 4 oldsters, and a Kiko Laureiro look-alike. Upon doing some research, I was surprised to learn that Trauma was Cliff Burton’s band before leaving them to join Metallica. Formed in 1981, they seemed to take a hiatus until 2015 when they came out with new music and have been pushing along ever since. With a heavy 80s influence, they rocked the stage quite impressively. Brian Allen’s vocals are reminiscent of Udo Dirkschneider or Bobby “Blitz” of Overkill. “From Here to Hell” to “Meat”, “Walk Away to “Death of the Angel”, Trauma is loud, tight, and fun to watch.
Next up was an equally legendary musician in his own right, Marty Friedman. I wasn’t really sure what to expect here either as I’ve barely heard of him since he left Megadeth and moved to Japan. But I was excited to get a chance to see him perform. It was a unique experience, to say the least. First off, Marty Friedman is a literal guitar virtuoso which means the majority of his music is long, drawn-out guitar solos over a backing band. To me, he was only slightly less annoying than Yngwie Malmsteen on stage. You have to be a certain kind of music fan to enjoy an almost fully instrumental performance. With that said, his first two songs, “Stigmata Addiction” and “Devil Take Tomorrow”, were a phenomenal look into Friedman’s talent. His musicianship exudes the talent and raw emotion that goes into his playing. The composition is compelling and complex with drastic tempo changes. Friedman did do a Megadeth song, “Tornado of Souls”, which was met with raucous cheers. The crowd really seemed to enjoy his set.
Headlining the evening was Queensryche with venerable lead vocalist, Todd LaTorre. Having been a crowd of mostly over 50-somethings, the amount of time they made us wait for them to come on was excessive. But, that’s mostly my back talking. The intro song used was Pantera’s “Walk” which successfully got the crowd singing along and in the right frame of mind for the show. Opening with new tracks “Behind the Walls” and “Don’t Look Back”, it’s clear that these guys have not lost any of their wills to write, produce and perform new music with integrity and perseverance that knows no bounds. Following into “Child of Fire” blew the minds of many as this is a classic from their debut album in 1984, ‘The Warning’. It was during this song that it became clear that LaTorre can easily hit those unbelievably high notes that his predecessor doesn’t even attempt anymore. This led to “En Force”, also from their 1984 debut, which ushered in “Spreading the Disease”, another classic from their 1988 opus, ‘Operation: Mindcrime’.
Mid-card was made up of a handful of both slightly older and new music from their upcoming offering, ‘Digital Noise Alliance’. The crowd was pumped and was quite enthusiastic to hear the older tunes including “Jet City Woman”, “Empire” and “Eyes of a Stranger”. It was the encore that drove them over the edge with “Deliverance” and the addition of Matt Barlow from Ashes of Ares on “Queen of the Reich”. Closing with “Roads to Madness” was the BEST wrap-up to this show. It was always one of my MOST favorite Queensryche songs and LaTorre does it justice. His voice is still amazing and it’s rather unnerving how much he actually sounds like an original vocalist, Geoff Tate. Highly recommended the show if it comes to your town!
Live Performance5/5 AmazingThe crowd was pumped and was quite enthusiastic to hear the older tunes including “Jet City Woman”, “Empire” and “Eyes of a Stranger”.
Overall Sound4.5/5 Very goodClosing with “Roads to Madness” was the BEST wrap-up to this show. It was always one of my MOST favorite Queensryche songs and LaTorre does it justice.