When’s the last time you thought about Queensrÿche? Considering I was still in diapers when they dropped their first album, I clearly missed their heyday. But as one of those quintessential ’80s hair metal bands that have stood the test of time, they definitely have been on my radar over the years.
Having never seen them live, I was excited to catch them at the beautiful and intimate Neptune Theatre. As we made our way through the crowd, you could feel the nostalgia dripping off the vintage walls.
I couldn’t help but imagine the overwhelming stench of hairspray and cigarettes.
I’m pretty sure I saw a shirt, patch, or jean jacket representing every hair metal band I could think of. One gentleman in line for the men’s room was even boasting about having been to 55 Scorpions concerts, and was rocking a signed tour shirt to prove it.
As long time veterans, Queensrÿche definitely was on point. La Torre’s custom mic stand was more sculpture than that standard metal rod, and Grillos’ drum set had menacing metal ribs to match. With large panels of LEDs, they set the opening tone with a red reaper eerily floating between screens as they kicked it off with Prophecy. Later on, they added a nice touch to the visuals by incorporating some local scenery as a homage to their hometown Bellevue, WA.
When they got to Silent Lucidity, I was expecting a sea of cellphone flashlights. However, Johnny 5—the previous band whose epic shredding and quirky costumes reminded me of Buckethead—had specifically requested the “flames” for his ballad. So without a call out, Queensrÿche only got a couple of waves worth. I think I was the only one in the building who put up an actual lighter.
To heat things back up, they rolled right into Jet City Woman, which everybody had been waiting for. Clearly the crowd was loving every riff and expertly sung note. They closed the main set with their namesake, Queen of the Reich.
As they came back for the encore, they once again took an opportunity to plug their new album, The Verdict, by playing Light-years. But with such a long history, you know the fans wanted them to end on one of those classic hits, and we weren’t disappointed as they closed out with Eyes of a Stranger and Empire.
Overall, it was an amazing night of classic metal. Although, I did leave pondering that deep philosophical question: if I go bald, can I still call myself hair metal?