|Queensryche: The Art of Live|
|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Tuesday, 20 April 2004|
Where do I start? This DVD blew me away! I personally lost track of Queensryche after Hear in the Now Frontier, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this release. But soon after opening the package I saw “Sign of the Times” from Hear in the Now Frontier, the Pink Floyd classic “Comfortably Numb” and The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the song list, so I knew that there were some songs that I at least knew about. I figured what the hell, let’s put this baby on… Let me put it this way, get ready for some of the most intricate, intense and technically challenging progressive metal you’ll hear this year. Not only haven’t Queensryche lost a step, they’ve pushed themselves into the category where only the most adventuresome musicians reside. Unbelievable was my first reaction, simply unbelievable.
The drummer in my band and myself watched this after doing a morning radio gig. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves after an early morning of rock ‘n’ roll where the radio people were all over themselves about good we are. Then we watched this, wow … This is what a great band sounds like! Time signatures all over the place, harmonies sounding like they were recorded in a studio and very intense, intricate music. I absolutely fell in love with this band all over again. The mix was also one of the best I’ve heard from a live DVD. Every instrument comes through with such power, but never at the expense of another. Geoff Tate still has one of the most remarkable voices in rock and when he and James LaBrie (Dream Theatre vocalist) harmonize on “Comfortably Numb,” with Tate taking the higher part, the harmony is simply breathtaking. This is a band that knows how do it, and do it well.
The only reason that I’m not giving this a five-star rating is that for the picture, they chose to use a sepia/old news footage kind of look. That’s not bad for a song or two, but for the whole disc? There are also some digital artifacts that occasionally make an appearance when the music is at its most intense, so that’s the reason for the lower score. I know that this tour was sponsored by VH1 Classics and Queensrychye shared the stage with Dream Theatre, so I know that the light show was something to see at the very least, quite possibly spectacular, but you couldn’t tell that by watching this disc. There were some visuals that work, like on the song “Open,” which has overlaying images of the band playing that really work nicely, but still I would have liked to see what the crowd saw. There is a really nice break in the middle of the concert where the acoustic instruments come out, and again they prove what talented musicians they are. At this point in the concert, you may start to get a little burned out by the intensity, but to the rescue comes a change that really made me realize these guys get it. You can be intense on acoustic instruments – after all, aren’t drums acoustic? Not all acoustic music is wimpy and more times than not, when seeing a band like Queensryche or performers of their ilk, the acoustic break is necessary.
This is exactly what rock radio needs right now, an infusion of talented songwriters, musicians and performers who know how important all the ingredients are together. Not what gets played on radio now, where I have a hard time telling one band from another (Did the song end? It’s hard to tell anymore when everyone has the exact same tone!). And talk about a nice surprise at the end of the disc, Queensryche and Dream Theatre playing together, both bands in full! Their versions of “Comfortably Numb” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are powerhouse. On “Comfortably Numb,” Tate takes on the Roger Waters vocal parts while LaBrie does the David Gilmour parts. As I wrote earlier, their harmonies are just great, while both bands are tearing it up behind them. You’d think that with two full bands on stage that there would be this huge mess with no room musically left for anything, but these are not your average bands and they know how to create space and let the music breathe. Especially on “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” the bands go into hyperdrive, with all the lead instruments getting a nice long segment to stretch out. I was showing my son (an aspiring drummer) this song and, on the drum break after the three-guitar solos with Scott Rockenfield and Michael Portnoy, the amazement on his face was priceless. Rockenfield and Portnoy do a great Keith Moon impersonation with all the intensity of the original, yet each one makes the bridge his own.
This is what rock musicians used to aspire to, and hopefully with this disc they will again. If you’re into the progressive rock genre at all, run don’t walk to get this disc. A great band, great songs and incredible execution on the material. What more could you want?