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Queensrÿche / Firewind / Dark Sky Choir (Msnchester 2019) Hot

Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 27, 2019    
 
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Queensrÿche / Firewind / Dark Sky Choir - The Academy, Manchester (UK) - 29 November 2019

Heavy traffic around Manchester and a long, slow queue to purchase tickets meant that US Hard Rock band Dark Sky Choir had just left the stage as I entered The Academy. The latter was approximately half-full, but fortunately that number almost doubled by the time the headliners took to the stage. It did not help that Amon Amarth were playing a mile down the road at the Apollo; a similar thing in Sheffield the previous evening.with Airbourne and The Australian Pink Floyd Show in the Steel City at the same time as Queensrÿche.

As Firewind hit the stage I initially thought we were going to be a hit by a wall of noise; however, I was pleasantly surprised, although loud, we were treated to a relatively clean mix and sound from the Greek metallers. In Gus G they have a genuine axe-hero; however, it should not be overlooked that Firewind are no one-trick pony, and the guitarist is ably supported by Henning Basse (vocals), Petros Christo (bass), Bob Katsionis (keyboards and rhythm guitar), and Jo Nunez (drums). The Hellenic's have been pedalling their brand of Power Metal for over twenty years, and have an impressive back-catalogue of eight studio albums, five of which were represented in this evening's impressive nine-song set. Both Basse and Gus G addressed the audience throughout; highlights were 'World On Fire', the brutal 'I Am The Anger' and set closer 'Falling To Pieces'.

Setlist: 'Ode to Leonidas (Immortals 2017) / We Defy (Immortals 2017) / Head Up High (The Premonition 2008) / Hands Of Time (Immortals 2017) / World On Fire (Days Of Defiance 2010) / The Fire And The Fury (Burning Earth 2003) / Mercenary Man (The Premonition 2008) / I Am The Anger (Burning Earth 2003) / Falling To Pieces (Allegiance 2006)

Original Queensrÿche members Michael Wilton (guitar) and Eddie Jackson (bass), along with Casey Grillo (drums) and Parker Lundgren (guitar) took to the stage to the backing tape of 'Launder The Conscience', and were soon joined by singer Todd LaTorre as they began their set with 'Blood Of The Levant' from their latest, excellent studio album 'The Verdict'. Despite suffering from a cold and bronchitis, LaTorre still sounded better than ninety-nine percent of the Heavy Metal frontmen touring today. He was assisted on a couple of tracks by the singers of the support bands, Brian Allen of Dark Sky Choir and Henning Basse of Firewind on 'Queen Of The Reich' and 'Jet City Woman' respectively. This highlighted even further what a perfect replacement he was for original vocalist Geoff Tate.

Early highlights were 'I Am I' from the underrated 'Promised Land' opus and the Metal majesty of 'NM 156'. The near to capacity crowd were loving every minute of it, but the atmosphere cranked up a level with the quintessential 'Rÿche song 'Walk In The Shadows', followed by the title-track of the greatest Metal concept album of all-time, 'Operation: Mindcrime'. The pace dropped for the ballad 'Silent Lucidity', juxtaposed to the brilliant 'Screaming In Digital', which to the untrained ear could sound like a cacophony of noise; but, to lifelong fans, pure euphony.

'Take Hold Of The Flame' almost finished LaTorre vocally for the evening; however, he returned for fans' favourites 'The Needle Lies' and 'Eyes Of A Stranger'. Considering LaTorre's health condition, I can forgive the band for such a short set this evening; however, just over seventy minutes for a headline set is too short, especially with the wealth of material Queensrÿche have at their disposal.

Setlist: Blood of the Levant / I Am I / NM 156 / Man the Machine / Walk in the Shadows /
Operation: Mindcrime / Silent Lucidity / Queen of the Reich / The Mission / Screaming in Digital / Jet City Woman / Take Hold Of The Flame / The Needle Lies / Eyes Of A Stranger

Review by: Mark Donnelly
Photos by: Az Chaudhry

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