Queensryche - Wolverhampton Civic - Wednesday 18th June 2008

The full American production finally hits the UK. Hit or miss?

No support band tonight, basically this was an evening with Queensryche showcasing Mindcrime 1 & 2 with a theatrical staging. Thanks to the sound engineer, Alan, for the setlist - cheers fella. Good to meet the lighting engineer too.. Houselights fade and "Anarchy X" introduces "Operation:mindcrime". I still maintain that this is a wonderful album, and an essential in any rock fan's collection. Fantastic to hear it played in entirity and with the added bonus of Pamela Moore playing Mary. No point in me listing the tracks, you all know them. Musically incredibly tight with a crystal clear sound quality, although I would have liked it to have been louder. Of course it could be that I was still deaf from having my head in a bass bin at Origin a couple of nights before! "Eyes Of A Stranger" obviously closed set one and the band trooped off.

Twenty minutes or so later "Freiheit Overture" started the second set. "I'm American" is a class song, but really Mindcrime 2 never matches the original's overall quality and cohesion. The staging was interesting enough, but this section dragged for me. Still at least it has prompted me to play Mindcrime 2 again so I suppose it did its job. "All The Promises" rounded off set two to rapturous applause. The crew stripped the stage down and the band returned for the encores. This then became like a gig instead of a stageshow and the band attacked the material with increased aggression. Encores surprisingly all off "Empire" - "Jet City Woman", "Empire" and an unusual, but effective, rendition of "Silent Lucidity" completed the performance.

Hit or miss? Both really. Let's start with the positives. Loved Geoff Tate's placard early on in the evening ("Someone give Bush a blowjob so we can impeach him"! Quality but unfortunately wishful thinking..). Musically stunning, some unusual arrangements especially during set one. The vocal displays from Geoff and Pamela were amazing. Lengthy set and you certainly got your money's worth. Negatives? Bit too clinical and overproduced. Geoff Tate first addressed the crowd before the first encore and the audience never really got involved. This probably had something to do with it being all seated - presumably to make it more like a theatre show. I hate seating at gigs with a passion. My tastes have got a lot more extreme over the years, having witnessed Origin/Impaled/Hour Of Penance pulverise me into submission two nights before, this one seemed pedestrian. Unfortunate timing I guess... Nothing wrong with the musicianship just not brutal enough for me any more.

Operation:mindcrime is a seminal album and will always sound good live. The first set took me back a few years I can tell you and I was grinning inanely through most of it. It remains one of the best rock concept albums ever recorded. No arguments necessary. An entertaining evening and lots of fans will love it - just not for me these days. I like a lot more intensity from gigs, and good as this performance was, overall it felt a bit flat.




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