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Review: Queensrÿche proves it is still in full force at Northern Quest

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 24, 2021

By Taylor Waring For The Spokesman-Review

Queensrÿche delivered a night of nostalgic riff revelry in the Pend Oreille Pavilion at Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Thursday night. The band has weathered a slew of membership changes over the past 40 years, including the loss of powerhouse vocalist and lyrical visionary Geoff Tate and the band’s primary riffmaster, Chris DeGarmo.

Nevertheless, the remaining founding members Michael “The Whip” Wilton (lead guitar), Eddie “One Take” Jackson (bass) and longtime vocalist Todd La Torre still masterfully perform Queensrÿche classics and new songs alike alongside guitarist Mike Stone.

Over the course of the night, Queensrÿche focused heavily on tracks from its early career up through the massive commercial breakthrough “Empire” (1990), though the rockers also played a few tracks off “The Verdict” (2019).

Newcomers and longtime fans were treated to their favorite neck-breaking solos from Wilton, ear-breaking heavy metal screeches from La Torre and Jackson’s rock-solid rhythm section. Hardcore Queensrÿche fans were stoked to hear classic early tracks.

The band performed heavy metal classics “The Lady Wore Black” and “Queen of the Reich” off the 1980 self-titled demo as if the group had just gotten off the tour bus with Quiet Riot in the early 1080s. Queensrÿche also ripped through tracks off the first and second full-length albums like “Prophecy,” “Walk in the Shadows” and “Screaming in Digital.”

While the band can’t legally play the breakthrough 1988 rock opera “Operation: Mindcrime” in its entirety, fans were still treated to the album’s hits. The band performed both of the two first charting hits, “Eyes of a Stranger” and the Grammy-nominated, heartbreak anthem “I Don’t Believe in Love.”

The band also performed “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Breaking the Silence” and “The Mission” off the highly influential concept album. The standout performance of the night was “Take Hold of the Flame” from the 1984 debut album “The Warning.”

In it, La Torre had an outstanding vocal delivery, which included a screech that might rival Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and definitely rivaled former Queensrÿche vocalist Tate. Wilton’s whip-fast, finger-burning guitar solo proved that the band is still in full force.

For longtime fans wondering how La Torre holds up to the legendary Tate, know that while La Torre fills Tate’s shoes humbly, he fills them completely. After watching 2021 performances of Tate, the similarity in timbre and range between the two artists is remarkable.

Tate is arguably the better frontman, in that 1980s, ego-driven sort of way. However, you’ve never seen Tate take two seconds between songs to notice a kid in the crowd and make sure he gets a drumstick to take home.

Formed in Bellevue, Queensrÿche has been melting minds and faces since 1980. A decidedly American response to the popularity of New Wave of British heavy metal acts like Iron Maiden, the band rose to prominence with its more progressive approach to metal, both musically and lyrically.

Where Maiden was interrogating Britain’s colonial past, Queensrÿche was questioning the dark, technologically driven future to come. With online, counter-reality cults like Q-Anon that seem to be right out of “Operation: Mindcrime” and the ever permeation of technology, the foresight of Queensrÿche makes the band just as relevant as ever.

During a moment of fan interaction, La Torre asked how many people were seeing the band for the first time. Surprisingly, it was the vast majority of the crowd. But it’s no surprise, really, in unprecedented times like these, how many folks are also asking, “What happened to the dream sublime?”

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