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"Have we come too far to turn around?" - 60%

DarthVenom, January 6th, 2007

This live DVD (and CD of the same name) was recorded on the band’s tour in support of Tribe – which, unfortunately, is considered widely to be the band’s worst output to date, so being recorded at what was perhaps the band’s lowest point doesn’t help matters any. The band members themselves are in top form: the guitarwork is spot-on, the drums and bass provide a solid heartbeat for the songs, and Tate is his usual self (Don’t expect him to hit the high notes spot-on all the time, but he does try and for that I give him credit, and he’s no slouch at singing at any point). While Chris DeGarmo’s identifiable and passionate yet forceful lead style is missed, the pieces are picked up well. But all the instrumental prowess in the world can’t save the concert if it’s marred by a weak setlist…

…which, sadly, is my next point. There are six songs from Tribe here, and there are far more tracks from the post-Mindcrime (Hell, post-Empire – not even their most mainstream-friendly song Silent Lucidity is to be found) than pre to be found here. While this shows a Maiden-like mindset of pushing forward and supporting the latest album, it just doesn’t work as well in such abundance when the latest album just isn’t all that great. Two back-to-back songs from what’s generally considered as the band’s magnum opus, zero from their energetic and enthusiastic first EP, one from their heralded first album The Warning and a whopping zero from Rage For Order shows a band that, as has been mentioned on this site before, seems to have been out of touch with their fans at this point in time – but I’ll touch on that a few paragraphs down. Fans of new Queensryche won’t mind this at all, as the songs are audibly performed in an energetic and precise way that will make fans of them happy; those who prefer the more metallic-tinged Queensryche of pre-Empire, stay warned. The songs are all performed well, and are enjoyable to watch, to a point.

The visuals of the concert are something that I’d like to devote a little more time to. To start off positively, the cuts are balanced – not seizure-inducing, but not overlong either – and each band member gets roughly an equal time on screen, so the editing passes with flying colours. However, I have to ask: Who thought that it would have been a remotely good idea to shoot a whole metal concert in a washed-out black and white? If it had been done for stylistic or creative/uniqueness purposes in parts of songs, or in one or two songs then it could be understood, but doing this for an entire show complete with various lighting that was possibly beneficial to the visual performance (We won’t know for sure, now will we?) is not excusable.

The sound quality is passable. It’s not fantastic, but everything is audible (for the most part) and the acoustics give off a very concert-like vibe cleaned up a little for wide release, which works in context.

However, back to the sights, it’s what the visuals reveal that’s worth a look. The band comes on stage and opens with Tribe’s title track, and they perform it fairly enthusiastically and generally spot-on, as seen in the close shots of the stage, and are met with tepid applause throughout. But when the view switches to the wide-angle that looks from behind the pit…the fans are just standing there. A few are maybe raising the horns in front, but for the most part, the fans are still – evidently waiting for the more loved era of the band to show itself (The fans go completely wild during the Mindcrime material). This reveals something very unfortunate that this DVD represents: it shows that at this point in time, Queensryche were balancing on the edge and in danger of becoming a “nostalgia band”: the kind whose fans will generally like or love the band’s earlier albums, but almost entirely disregard the later albums in a notion of, “They were better before [insert album here].” And judging from the abundance of Tribe tracks on the DVD, it may be taken that the band was not even aware of this at the time, which would have made it all the easier to fall into the “nostalgia band” trap. The band did not become this, fortunately; it’s in at least this reviewer’s opinion that their follow-up Operation: Mindcrime II (And the subsequent bombastic tour) showed the world that they could still make relevant, thoughtful and generally kick-ass albums in this day and age, and so they pulled themselves back from the brink before this happened. This DVD, though, shows how dangerously close they had come to it. The bottom line: The crowd energy isn’t nearly as there as it should be half the time, and this DVD essentially represents the far less-favoured era of one of heavy/progressive metal’s flag-waving bands.

Just a closing point on a high note – the extra songs, Pink Floyd and The Who covers where the full Dream Theater joins the ‘Ryche on stage are done very nicely, especially the Tate/LaBrie vocal interplay during Comfortably Numb. Definitely a nice treat.

Overall, the songs are performed well but marred by some uninspiring and bad-idea visuals. To reiterate, the material is mainly post-Empire, so it’s up to you to decide whether this works for you or not. I love the band’s music, and I don’t want to give them a failing grade for this; despite some bad ideas, it’s really not a bad performance at all. Otherwise, it’s an interesting look at what may be the lowest point of Queensryche. Even if they were unawares.

60% (Low C)