Live Evolution

Queensryche

Sanctuary Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/08/2001

It's been a decade since Empire, arguably the second half of the one-two punch that Queensryche delivered during their heyday, came out. Since then, Geoff Tate and crew have seen interest in the band's genre (as well as the band) decline, and shifts in personnel and labels take place. With their recent signing to Sanctuary, the band decided that now was the time to put out their second live album, Live Evolution, in order to bring everyone to the same point in the band's career and to clear out the pipes, as it were, for their next studio effort.

Granted, not many people invested in the album-plus-video set Operation: LiveCrime (never mind it's about to be re-released on CD), so Live Evolution might be the first taste of Queensryche on stage that they've had. And while this disc does show evidence enough why the band had the level of popularity it once held, this two-disc set also shows that time has not been kind to either all of the material or even the group.

Tate was once held in high regard for his operatic training and his ability to hit the high falsetto notes. But if the listener expects to hear the same singer who graced albums like The Warning or Rage For Order, they need to temper their expectations. Queensryche is almost finishing its second decade as a band, and Tate's vocals reflect the onset of middle-age at times. Especially noted in the early material, such as "NM 156" and "Walk In The Shadows," there are times that Tate not only abandons attempts to hit higher notes, but it sometimes sounds like he's having difficulty finding the key the song is in. (I also admit I miss the harmonized vocals from the studio versions of "London" and "Walk In The Shadows," even if they were just layered at the time by Tate himself.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Live Evolution's strengths, not surprisingly, come from the songs culled from Operation: MindCrime and Empire, even if minor changes to the songs have occurred over the years (for example, the ending guitar part being lopped off of "Silent Lucidity"). There is a reason that these songs have held up over time, and Live Evolution offers further proof of the solid songwriting that was going on in the band at the time. Also holding their own well are many selections originally taken from Rage For Order, such as "Screaming In Digital" and, to an extent, "London". (It should be noted, though, that none of the Rage tracks are featured in what's labeled the "Rage/Mindcrime Suite" on the disc; they're all lumped under the "EP/Warning Suite". And I sure hope they fixed the track listing on the CD cases; the track listing for about the first half of disc one is pretty messed up.)

Yet Queensryche also shows why they went into a period of decline, starting with the two tracks pulled from Promised Land. Neither "I Am I" nor "Damaged" stand out among the crowd, and seem to be included merely to feature songs from that album. The same argument could be made for material from Hear In The Now Frontier or Q2K, two albums which were basically ignored commercially.

In this regard, Queensryche might have done themselves the greatest disservice by breaking up their music into various portions of their career. I don't know if this was the experience for the concert-goers this past July (when these shows were taped), but breaking the music up into particular time frames almost welcomes the option to ignore certain time frames you're not interested in. Had this been a more fluid mixture, working in tunes from Empire with selections from Q2K, it might have been more palpable. (It also wouldn't have hurt to have featured a little more humanity from the band - there's precious little interaction between Tate and the crowd. I've seen Queensryche live, and I know they're more lively than this.)

Live Evolution is the typical "for the fans" concert documentary, but the casual listener will probably be just as happy with the studio efforts. It was a nice idea to tie their career together with a two-CD live set, but it just wasn't executed in the best way possible.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sanctuary Records, and is used for informational purposes only.