queensryche-march-7For those of you who are paying attention, Queensryche has splintered into two camps: you have fired vocalist Geoff Tate on one side and the rest of the band in the other. This isn’t a new predicament though, since both Great White and L.A. Guns are going through similar experiences. Whatever issues those bands are dealing with, Queensryche is actually in a he said, she said moment whereby both sides claim ownership to the name of the band. This is turning out to be a colossal mess, what with the ongoing court battle failing to resolve things between either side. Tate has now vowed to write new music and tour with all new band members, and that leaves his former bandmates to fire off a salvo of their own. It didn’t take long though, and once former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre was recruited and brought into the fold, the band is now touring under the moniker – “The real Queensryche,” and is in the first leg of a spring tour. They rolled into Toronto last night and landed at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, along with four other local bands to celebrate a rousing return to the live circuit. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the venue a half hour before the doors opened. My wife and I stood outside and waited patiently to be let in, and once we got inside and settled in the opening band Third Dynasty hit the stage. I didn’t much care for their blend of symphonic power metal, but they only served to help get the proceedings going. The next act was J’Nai and they started out with a punchy cover of Heart’s “Barracuda” and followed that up with a lively set lead by the vivacious lead singer. When we got to the third act Three Quarter Stone, I thought the band was flat all throughout the 30 minute set. At least the final warm up act, War Machine proved to be real road warriors and tore through another thirty minute set of power/thrash numbers mostly coming off their latest release. At this point the crowd was revved up and primed for Queensryche, so the lights went out and the band began the aural assault with “Queen of the Reich” as the opening number. The crowd on hand was small, but totally red hot for Queensryche and they broke out in sheer adulation as the band dipped into the past for a slew of oldies. We were treated to a bunch of cuts from The Warning with the highlight being “Roads to Madness,” and then “The Shadows” and “whisper” from Rage to Order were run through to the peak of perfection. It was at this point that Todd LaTorre spoke to the crowd about the exciting projects and ventures upcoming from the band before going back into singer mode. He was truly on his game as a singer and when it came time to tackle the crucial songs in the Queensryche discography, he nailed it every time. He dove into a series of incredible performances on “The Needle Lies,” “Eyes of a Stranger” and “I Don’t Believe in Love,” and I swear his vocal range would put Geoff Tate to shame. Todd was passionate when he needed to be and it transcended into a blissful performance, proving that he is the right man to fill the shoes of the departed Mr. Tate. I think by this part of the show, he looked exhausted, but he seemed so gracious when the band took their bows at the end of the set. It was during this break, that drummer Scott Rockenfield came out to speak about the exciting new projects the band were working on. He mentioned the new album and then turned it back over to Todd as they were about to perform a few more songs for the encore. It started with the introduction of local guitarist Glenn Drover (King Diamond, Megadeth) coming out to play on “Take a hold of the Flame,” before he exited and the band returned to a couple more cuts. They then blitzed into “Inside” and then finished off with my personal favorite “Silent Lucidity,” proving they are truly back in fashion as a bona fide progressive metal band. The band took several bows at this point and they all seemed genuinely pleased with the intimate crowd’s response and I know everyone left the Phoenix feeling totally satisfied.