I wasn’t quite sure what expect when I entered Southampton Guildhall, Queensryche were pretty darn huge back in the day but I’ve never heard a great deal of their music. I’d read online that the band are joined on stage by actors, so I knew the night was going to be a little different.
It didn’t seem right to find rows of seats at a metal gig, but the stage layout was awesome and it became an instant distraction. It was made up to look like a run down back street, complete with graffiti on the “brick work”. Everyone seemed pretty mellow before the band came out, but as soon as the lights dipped the atmosphere grew. I felt like I was being brainwashed at first, watching a big screen with anti war and anti Bush message, frontman Geoff Tate then came on stage to further reiterate those views, but it wasn’t long before the music started.
The acoustics were stupidly loud, deafeningly loud, which at some points made it hard to distinguish what was going on. The first half of the show was entirely made up of tracks from ‘Operation Mindcrime’ which tells the story of a junkie called Nikki and his love for Mary, a hooker turned nun, the unfortunate thing was that while Tate and the band sounded great for most of the first half you couldn’t pick up Mary’s or should I say Pamela Moore’s mic, so all the female vocals were lost.
The majority of the crowd were on their feet singing and dancing along with the first half, the atmosphere was electric and I was thoroughly enjoying the evening even though I wasn’t familiar with Queensryche’s material, although at some points Tate’s over acting was nothing short of laughable.
There was a short interval, then the eighties metallers were back on stage with force, the only thing is the room was now a lot emptier. I was mystified by the missing people, as the first half was awesome, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to leave, but that soon became obvious. To be blunt, the second half sucked, and obvious that their fans knew that ‘Operation Mindcrime part II’ was a much weaker album than the prequel.
The electric atmosphere had disappeared, now pretty much everyone that was left was sat down apart from the odd few that were rocking away. Considering the work Tate was putting into his acting his vocals were impressive, and the rhythm sections and the duel guitaring was outstanding, but as good as the band’s performance was I still found myself wishing that it would all be over, wishing that Nikki would hurry up and kill himself. I rejoiced when he did, only to find the show carrying on as he was reunited with Mary in heaven.
The only way to describe what these guys do is a metal musical, both albums were paid in entirety and told as a theatrical showpiece. A few days on and I’m still baffled as to how it went from being so good to so bad so quickly. Their act is truly original, the band deserved credit for putting a show like this together.