Queensrÿche at Slim's, by Carolyn McCoy

Queensrÿche (photo: Carolyn McCoy)

Words by Carolyn McCoy

Rewind: 1984. I was a teenage metalhead living in Seattle when the heavy, progressive, hard rockers Queensrÿche first entered into my listening sphere. The releases of their epic and hard-driving "Queen Of The Reich" and "Take Hold Of The Flame" were part of a perfect soundtrack to my teen angst, with shredding guitars, ass-whooping baselines and tons of screaming vocals. I was a fan of the band up until the '90s, but then life and other musical adventures took me to places unknown and Queensrÿche disappeared from my radar.

Fast forward: 2019. “What? Queensrÿche still tours? They have been pumping out album after album after album since my initial induction into their musical world? WOW! No way!” I think. And yet here they are, on tour with a sold-out pit stop at Slim’s in San Francisco with most of the founding members alive and kicking, and they are still making seriously awesome metal.

The songs of Queensrÿche are more than just flashy metal tunes, as the lyrical content is both beautiful and thought-provoking at times, like the gorgeous ballad of their big hit “Silent Lucidity” and the searing crash of “Take Hold Of The Flame.” "The current band lineup is in incredible form, with two of the original founding members, guitarist Michael Wilton and bassist Eddie Jackson as well as newer members and drummer Casey Grillo, guitarist Parker Lundgren and Todd La Torre, who’s vocals soared and growled just as well as original singer Geoff Tate (who was replaced in 2012). With a visually stimulating light-graphics show illuminated behind them, they ripped apart the stage with songs from many of their outstanding 15-album back stock including the hard-hitting rockers “I Am I,” “Condition Human,” Open Road,” and “Eyes Of A Stranger.” At one point, singer La Torre states, “Now we’re gonna bring it up a notch!” (as if they hadn’t already) and blasted out “Queen Of The Reich” with sheer sonic force amid audience head bangs and fist pumps.

Sound has a habit of bringing back memories for us humans. Song in particular has the most profound effect in that way. The music I heard live with Queensrÿche’s show not only satiated my adult self but my inner 14-year-old self squealed with glee, and it seemed my youth came crashing back to me in one night of heavy metal madness.