Queensryche + Vanishing Point + Elm Street
The Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
October 14th, 2016
Reviewed by Rod Whitfield
Photography by Sofie Marsden
A few weeks ago, I wrote a memoir for HEAVY Magazine of my first ever live music experience, Dio at Festival Hall, 30 years to the day [ http://bit.ly/29NxTNj ]. Entering the Prince Bandroom last night just, as Elm Street were starting their set, I thought I had stepped through a time-warp regarding the band’s sound and presentation. This feeling was heightened by the punters who had shown up to with their cut-off denim jackets festooned with Iron Maiden and Motorhead patches, just as I had worn as a 15-year-old way back on that cold night in the mid-’80’s.
Elm Street was up first with their blistering, traditional thrash metal. Thrash isn’t the perfect choice to open up the night for a band like Queensryche and therefore didn’t elicit much of a positive reaction from the growing crowd. However, and understandably so, because they were ring-in’s because Teramaze had to pull out due to their drummer’s leg injury which required surgery. If it were a thrash night, Elm Street would have knocked the crowd’s socks off with their almost cliche riffs and antics.
Vanishing Point came on next and seriously lifted the vibe with their grand and soaring take on the power metal sub-genre. Just back from the Power-Prog Festival in the USA, it is easy to see why Vanishing Point are one of Australia’s favourite power metal exports and have been for years and years. Decades even. Their songs are joyous, catchy, skilfully played, full of energy, with subtle symphonic touches and beautifully sung by Silvio Massaro.
Twenty plus years in this harsh industry we call the “music biz” does not seem to have blunted the passion, creativity and enthusiasm of this band one single iota. They still appear to be having an absolute ball up there, especially long-time guitarist Chris Porcianko who laid out his slick riffs, licks, blistering leads along with towering vocal harmonies with effortless ease.
And, supporting Seattle’s greatest musical export, why wouldn’t you be enthusiastic!
I’ve been a massive fan of Queensryche since the time I saw Dio, but I had never experienced their live show; this night was another rite of musical passage moment for me.
The band have gone through some serious turmoil in the last five years with lineup changes, including a change in the all-important frontman position, lawsuits, physical altercations, bickering over the use of the band name and so forth. However, if this night was anything to go by, they have seriously put those times behind them and gotten on with the business of creating great music and putting on barnstorming live shows, as this gig was immense.
Focusing mainly on songs of the band’s career between and inclusive of 1986’s “Rage for Order” and “Promised Land” (1994), plus a tune each from the band’s debut and early, self-titled EP. There was also the subtle inclusion of a couple of tracks from the new, Geoff Tate-free era, where new frontman Todd La Torre has bravely and boldly stepped up to fill the great man’s shoes.
And step up he has, to the point where a potentially daunting, almost impossible transition is now seamless. La Torre’s voice and presence are magnificent. He handles the breathtaking operatic highs with consummate ease and professionalism and puts his subtle spin on Tate’s illustrious vocal histrionics while maintaining the key vibe, sound and core of his delivery. He injects his charisma, energy and personality into the role to make it his own.
The setlist was superb, the only thing I would have asked for was the stupendous Spreading the Disease from the all-time classic “Operation: Mindcrime” opus.
It is a beautiful thing to see a band like this, who have been around for decades, revived, vibrant and putting on a muscular, energy-packed show.
The zealously devoted audience packed-out The Prince Bandroom and were very enjoyable rowdy.
May we see Queensryche again soon!