I got to the cue outside and could only see one person who looked like your typical Metal fan. I asked a man in his forties who was playing, and he looked at me suspiciously, his eyes narrowed, determining whether or not I was going to make fun of or even understand him then slowly said Queensryche in an embarrassed tone and with a question in his voice. Thank goodness, I was at the right gig. Then about ten Metal guys showed up in the cue behind me. That could’ve saved me some social embarrassment had they been more punctual. Hurry up next time lads.
I got in, the place was empty. After about thirty minutes, a Trad-Metal quintet called Tri-Access or Triaxis (It wasn’t clear to me) with a singer heavily influenced by Geoff Tate (especially in her stage moves). Their music was brilliantly compatible with my tastes, with bits of Children Of Bodom, lots of Thrash, a tiny bit of Metalcore thanks to a drummer who liked double kick patterns similar to Trivium, and a whole heap of classic 1980s straight up Heavy Metal. I enjoyed them, but for whatever reason I didn’t become a fan or anything. They had the perfect formula but for whatever reason it only worked for me on an intellectual but not gut level.
Then a trio who also played Trad-Metal but with a very different approach to it came on. They were called Absolva. Again, smashing performance, brilliant formula and couldn’t be faulted. For whatever reason despite everything I didn’t become a fan. This isn’t like me, I become a fan at the drop of a hat! I’ve been called “the Galactuas of music.” Yet neither very suitable band that evening won me over. Maybe I’m dying!?
Then Queensryche came on. Todd received almost as brilliant a reaction as Phil Anselmo got at the down festival. People loved him. You’d think he was the star frontman who came back after an absence. It was like a small scale version of the reaction Bruce Dickenson would’ve got when he rejoined Maiden.
They played a brilliant set list (the only two songs I would ask for extra are “Revolution Calling” and “N M 156”) with a lot of Warning material, all the main hits (“Queen Of The Reich,” “Walk In The Shadows,” “Eyes Of A Stranger,” “Jet City Woman” etc. ) and even dropped a fair slice of the excellent new album in, tastefully, where it fit like a glove into the set.
They had previously been playing “Silent Lucidity” on this tour, but swapped it out in Manchester for the Promised Land-esque album closer from the new record, “Open Road,” and the crowd sang every single word, mimed every single drum fill and really reacted well. Beside stormers like “Fallout” “Redemption” and my favourite new track “Where Dreams Go To Die” it felt good that they would and could give the new record this much attention and still not lose too many great classics.
Seeing some of those guitar solos live in the flesh was such a nerd-fulfillment it was unbelievable.
The best moment of the night for me was when they dropped “Roads To Madness.” After all my Queesnryche love in the last two years it felt like a religious experience. That was one of the best times I’d ever had at a concert. That song is all about special little inflections, neat creative fills and they nailed them all. On the “Live Evolution” DVD they play a sort of Grunge version that’s too slow and its not as magic. This was spectacular. It was even cooler than the acoustic version on the “The Art Of Live” DVD.
Incidentally, Michael Wilton is an absolute superstar drummer. So unique, so original, so memorable and so powerful. He’s the Vinny Paul of the 80s. You know every single fill he’s going to play and when he does it, you go weak at the knees. It was really cool to watch him. I enjoyed it almost as much as watching Brann Dailor and Danney Carey, (and they are way flashier so should be cooler for the eyes, but still he ranked that highly.)
Do you know what I enjoyed most of all though? The crowd. The crowd were all loving it, really enthusiastic and showed the band they cared, but weren’t a shoving, screeching boorish set of Neanderthals, they all kept their personal space, no one crowd surfed and not one person shouted “Slaaaaaaaaaaaayer.” Not one. It was like a miracle or something. I didn’t get elbowed in the face once. It was the best crowd experience I’d ever had.
Ok. I say I enjoyed that the most, but, its probably tied with the band’s attitude. There was such gratitude and love-to-be-there attitude on display. Michael Wilton’s face conveyed such appreciation of the crowd and when he pointed a stick into the crowd it didn’t seem like a cheesy rock star move, it seemed genuine. Todd was like a one man PR Campaign to be the opposite of Geoff “My fans are stinking pigs” Tate. He went down to the front and individually shook every single person’s hand. He threw more setlists into the crowd than I’ve seen a band do all year. He just gave off an overall attitude that those “we are the people’s band” types give off.
If you get a chance to see Toddryche, take it. Even if you don’t know all the songs, the amount that they care will be fun for you.
The only downside to the evening was that I bought a Queensryche T-Shirt (how could I not?) and so accidentally broke my No Nerdy Or Non Essential Purchases For A Month challenge (Get (Into) What You Paid For). I’ll forfeit an extra five days in recompense, so that instead of November 1st, I can’t buy new things until November 6th.