Queensrÿche pulled off a rousing performance Friday night in Colorado that just might have left few missing the familiar hits of old.
March 24, 2023
By Bryan Ahearn
DENVER—The screams? Deafening. The darkness? Inviting. The masses jam-packed Denver’s Gothic Theater in Denver Friday night.
And, ready—for their injection of rock n’ roll serum.
Queensryche, the critically-acclaimed rock radio mainstays from the 80s, was about to return.
With a twist.
Admittedly setting out to eschew a setlist full of familiar classics in favor of more of their recent offerings, Queensrÿche pulled off a rousing performance Friday night in Colorado that just might have left few missing the familiar hits of old.
Queensrÿche are that good. Still.
Armed to the teeth with a murderous discography, lethal musicianship and criminally-good vocals, Queensryche pulled off the heist of a century —leaving not a trace of doubt that their modern day catalog could stand out, or at the very least alongside—a lineup of their more familiar classics.
Queensryche opened with “Behind The Walls,” an stomping rock-anthem from 2022’s Digital Noise Aliance, that reigns in a “Did you…ever…love me?” chorus befitting of a rock band rebelling against the notion that it’s best days had past, only to reload to a packed house, where the crowd nearly spilled back to the lobby, leaving hardly a spot to stand in the 1,000-person venue.
Led by vocalist Todd La Torre, Queensrÿche boasts the quintessential rock vocalist that many bands spend careers searching for, and catalogue of nearly 40 years of music from which to draw from.
But Friday night was not so much about the past, as it was about the present. The here. The now.
In fact, it wasn’t until about 5 songs in before the crowd tasted one of the bands more deeply familiar tracks, “Spreading The Disease,” from 1988’s widely-heralded album Operation Mindcrime.
The crowd fist-pumped and cheered as lead guitarist Michael Wilton laced his way in and out of the spinning and howling guitar licks that augment the track’s ferocious vocals.
And of course, the crowd loudly (and feverishly) stood in for every verse and chorus like not a second had passed—and it sounded incredible. Especially with some of the younger voices in the audience—many 20-something’s who no doubt had been streaming Queensrÿche, likely brought into it by their parents.
It was as if rock and roll was in the DNA of every single audience member that night, so it was almost fitting that the bands strongest moments arguably came from a block of songs from their latest album, DNA—Digital Noise Alliance.
“In Extremis” touched off the DNA portion of the set, with Wilton once again at it—playing lightning to Eddie Jackson’s thunderous bass. Of course, my favorite Jackson moment was when he (so fittingly) took center stage to plug away at the bass-laden intro of “Jet City Woman”—which came much later in the set.
And, for me, the song of the night: “Forest,”from 2022’s DNA album. An incredible and mellow vibe that accentuated the band’s ability to write all kinds of music—very well. Clearly, the slowest and most heartfelt song of the set that I wish I would have had my phone filming—what, with all the rich musical textures and Todd’s soothing and swooning vocals, the stage bathed in blue lighted hues and striped-green lights. A masterpiece in front our eyes.
However, the set itself flew by at warp-speed, proof that the band had not only grown an Empire, but could continue to build one as well.
And of course, we got “Empire,” from 1990s album by the same name—replete with the flashy cymbal and drum kit work by Casey Grillo. And when Wilton once again took over in carrying out his guitar solo, Mike Stone stood in with a rock-hard rhythm guitar, as he did the entire night.
All in all, this was one of the best pure rock shows I’ve seen in recent memory. A total, sensory throwback. It was all there. The noise. The smoke. The spilt beer The songs. The love.
Queensrÿche, clearly, is still loved.
As bands like Ghost, All That Remains, The Devil Wears Prada dot the modern rock airwaves, bands like Queensryche are within their collective DNA, and have their rightful place among gig posters plastered inside venues across the country.
And now, for the good news: Last night was only about the half-way point of the tour. Meaning, there’s still chances to catch (or re-catch), Queensrÿche—primarily east of the Mississippi, for about the next month.
So if you have the chance or want to give someone ear a chance, go see this band.
Take hold the flame that still burns strong, and, Sweet dreams, you bastard.
Setlist is the last photo, in the event you still want to be surprised.