Two nights ago, the progressive metal band Queensryche took to the stage at The Waiting Room in Omaha. Once again, on a Tuesday night. Nebraska kind of sucks that way. The concert also did not start until 9:00 p.m. Which is crazy. With us having to drive almost two hours to get there and back, it promised to be a very late night. And this week was already pretty stressful.
I'll be honest, I did not have the highest of hopes for this concert. There were three bands present and there were questions about all of them. The first band was Midnight Eternal, a band with whom I was completely unfamiliar. The Metal Archives lists them as a symphonic metal band and they have a female lead singer, so my first thought was "Nightwish clone". I have only heard two albums from Armored Saint, one of which I love, and the other I really don't care for. Most of my knowledge beyond that was that they appeared in Hellraiser 3 and singer John Bush spent some time with Anthrax. I was most familiar with Queensryche but have not really heard much from them since 1994's Promised Land. I was not even aware until a few days before that singer Geoff Tate was no longer with the band, which made me that much more wary. So I did not have the highest of hopes, but it was a chance to see a band I really enjoyed at one point, and my wife wanted to see them, so we went. And I am so glad that I did, because this was possibly the best concert I have seen all year. And I have seen several.
Midnight Eternal was not terribly impressive. Their music was decent enough but my initial impression upon looking into them was correct. Their pixie-ish singer was talented enough but did not really match up with the music that well. They were decent, but I don't see myself rushing out to get their album any time soon.
But where Midnight Eternal failed to impress, Armored Saint came out swinging. They sounded amazing and it is hard to imagine that this is a band likely in their late 40's/early 50's. John Bush's voice still has the same power it did when they released the Symbol of Salvation album. They played two tracks off of that album, which is really a classic. Unfortunately they did not play "Hanging Judge", my personal favorite from it. They played songs from throughout their career. I did recognize one track from the album I did not like that much, but it was admittedly the best song from it. My wife really enjoyed Armored Saint as well. I may just have to look into their earlier catalog.
After that, Queensryche came on, and they blew me away. New singer Todd La Torre, formerly of Crimson Glory, sounds so much like Geoff Tate that I would likely not have been able to tell the difference if I just heard them. The Waiting Room does not have the biggest stage, but Queensryche managed to cram two huge monitors in to show some visual displays during most of their songs, including a little animated feature prior to "Operation: Mindcrime". As I mentioned, I am only really familiar with the band's material up until Promised Land. Luckily the vast majority of the songs played were from that time period. There were only three or four newer songs, all of which were surprisingly good. But by far the best stuff was the earlier songs, like "Queen of the Reich", "Empire", "Damaged", and "Rage for Order". I was a little disappointed that they did not play "I Don't Believe in Love", but that was a small disappointment. The band was in top form throughout and La Torre sounded amazing. They closed out the night with a blistering version of "Eyes of a Stranger". I was definitely impressed.
My wife wants it to be known that they were not as good as Scorpions from earlier in the year, but honestly, as much as I enjoyed that show, I enjoyed this one more.