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Music DVD Review: Queensrÿche – Mindcrime At The Moore

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It has been almost 20 years since Queensrÿche first imparted the story of Nikki and Sister Mary on their unsuspecting fans via their brilliant heavy metal concept album of 1988, Operation: Mindcrime. Is it me, or does time speed up exponentially as you get older? Three years later, while touring in support of their follow-up to Mindcrime, the equally impressive Empire (and my personal Queensrÿche favorite), the band performed a full-blown, theatrical concert performance of the entire Mindcrime album, which was all captured on video and released the same year as Operation: Livecrime.

Since then, Queensrÿche have gone on to release a string of comparatively mediocre albums, no help in part to the resignation of founding guitarist, and apparent best songwriter, Chris DeGarmo from the band. In 2003, DeGarmo briefly rejoined his old bandmates in the studio to co-write and play on about half of the new Tribe album. Unfortunately, this would not be a permanent reunion, as DeGarmo declined to tour with, or officially rejoin, the band.

Queensrÿche have always remained a vital live act during this time, and this is documented by two other pretty decent concert videos; Live Evolution in 2001, and The Art Of Live in 2004 — although the latter was marred by some serious production blunders. Back in 2003, when Dream Theater was still my favorite progressive-metal band, Queensrÿche opened for them on one particular night of their amazing co-headlining tour that I attended, and proceeded to simply outclass their east coast counterparts. I gained a whole new respect for them that night.

As with Queensrÿche’s previous few efforts, I have not been very impressed with the new Operation: Mindcrime II album. 2003’s Tribe is the only post-Empire album that I still listen to occasionally. I have certainly given the new Mindcrime it’s due amount of spins, patiently waited for it to grow on me, but it simply lacks any real standout tracks to reach out and grab you like the original Mindcrime does. This becomes painfully obvious during this concert performance, when the much weaker Mindcrime II material has to follow the utterly amazing first set.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Just because Mindcrime II does not quite live up to its predecessor, that does not mean that it is a bad album — it is just not a great album. This makes the flow of the concert seem as if the headlining band had opened for the opening act; kind of anti-climactic. With that said, the reason that this video still gets such high marks from me is that, although it was already done brilliantly back in 1991, this new performance of Operation: Mindcrime was absolutely mind-blowing.

Mindcrime At The Moore is a two disk set that features Queensrÿche’s historic performance of the entire Operation: Mindcrime saga during a sold out, three-night run, at the Moore Theater, in their hometown of Seattle, Wash., on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of October 2006. They pulled out all the stops here, reprising Pamela Moore in her seminal role as Sister Mary, using several additional actors to portray the main characters in the story, such as Nikki and Dr. X, and effectively using video imagery to help illustrate the story line.

The first set begins with an animated video interpretation of “I Remember Now,” which is shown on a single big screen, positioned at the rear-center of the stage. “Anarchy-X” kicks off dramatically with the Seattle Seahawks Drum Line marching out on stage to augment the rest of the band who have already taken up their designated positions. Well, you pretty much know what comes next, because both Mindcrime albums are performed in order, in their entirety. The highlights of this performance were pretty much the highlights from each album.

“Revolution Calling” couldn’t be more relevant today, especially with the current political climate in the U.S. Geoff Tate, or Tate’s character, is holding up a sign that has “U.S. OUT OF IRAQ” on one side, and “WAR IS TERRORISM” on the other, while REVOLUTION is occasionally splashed across the screen in big, white letters. There are plenty more anti-Bush sentiments injected throughout the rest of the set as well. Other highlights include “Spreading the Disease” with Tate and the Pamela Moore, still in pre-Sister Mary prostitute attire, each turning in stunning vocal performances. Moore still looks and sings great, and Tate’s vocals have never sounded more powerful and in control, even though he has to sing while fully engrossed in his character.

There are much more theatrics and acting going on during this performance, compared to Operation: Livecrime. Geoff Tate’s amazing singing was no great surprise, but his superb acting skills certainly were. Now I’m certainly no theater or acting critic, but during some of the more intense and emotional scenes, such as throughout “The Mission” and “Suite Sister Mary,” I found myself scribbling “young Brando” in my notes during Tate’s performance. Okay, maybe I got a little carried away, but Tate certainly deserves some type of rock opera acting award, if there ever were such a thing.

The band’s performance of the Mindcrime I set was exceptionally tight and dynamic. The few improvisational liberties they took were mostly during “Electric Requiem” and “My Empty Room,” where Michael Wilton and Mike Stone added some fresh new guitar interplay. Stone, who joined the band on the Tribe tour, lays down some exceptional guitar work throughout the show, but his ridiculous looking punk-rocker Mohawk was very distracting and stood out like a sore thumb amongst these prog-metal veterans. “Eyes Of A Stranger” forcefully closed out the first set leaving me anxious for more and stunned by the incredible set I had just witnessed. Easily a 10+ rating so far.

The Mindcrime II set opens with a live action video accompanying the first two songs, “Freiheit Ouverture” and “Convict,” and eventually kicks into gear when Tate takes the stage dressed in a slick business suite, gun in hand, and harassing a group of bar yuppies while belting out “I’m An American.” Early highlights from the second set included a dynamic performance of “Hostage,” which portrays the trial of Nikki 18 years earlier, as well as “Fear City Slide,” which sounded far more powerful than the album version. As a matter of fact, the entire performance was much better than the album.

“The Chase” was done rather poorly, as both Ronnie James Dio’s part as Dr. X and Geoff Tate’s vocals were only presented via the big screen. It is understandable that RDJ could only make it to the Los Angeles performance, which is included in the Bonus Features, but the actual video they put together for this song looked unimpressive. “Murderer?” concluded with the second most shockingly violent scene of the show, as a dazed Nikki (Tate) eventually fires a blood-splattering bullet into the head of a tied-up Dr. X, while the ghost of Sister Mary looks on. The most shocking imagery, of course, was when Mary blew her own head off during the first set.

The Mindcrime II set ends very anti-climactically with the lackluster Tate-Moore ballad “All The Promises,” which stands in stark contrast to the explosive “Eyes Of A Stranger” first set finale. They do settle the score when they come back out for killer encore performances of their Rage For Order classic “Walk in the Shadows” and Empire‘s “Jet City Woman,” which brings the show’s total running time to an impressive two and one-half hours.

The overall production values of this DVD are nearly flawless. Powerful, well balanced Dolby 5.1 surround and PCM stereo mixes are marred only by a slightly weak drum mix. The widescreen video presentation was incredibly sharp and colorful, and special props go out to director Bruce Green for coming through with some of the best camera work and editing you could possibly have asked for, which was essential to making a theatrical rock concert like Operation: Mindcrime work so well.

Bonus Features include a 24-minute, behind-the-scenes tour documentary, a brief look at Queensrÿche’s “Rock N’ Ride” charity motor cycle ride, the L.A. performance of “The Chase,” featuring Ronnie James Dio as Dr. X, and a photo gallery.

Mindcrime At The Moore has certainly exceeded my expectations, and provides a fitting closing chapter to the Operation: Mindcrime saga. Hopefully, this will remain the last chapter though, and Queensrÿche will go on to knock us out with something completely fresh and new.

Set List
Set 1:
01. I Remember Now
02. Anarchy-X
03. Revolution Calling
04. Operation: Mindcrime
05. Speak
06. Spreading the Disease
07. The Mission
08. Suite Sister Mary
09. The Needle Lies
10. Electric Requiem
11. Breaking the Silence
12. I Don’t Believe in Love
13. Waiting for 22
14. My Empty Room
15. Eyes of a Stranger

Set 2:
01. Freiheit Ouverture
02. Convict
03. I’m American
04. One Foot In Hell
05. Hostage
06. The Hands
07. Speed of Light
08. Signs Say Go
09. Re-Arrange You
10. The Chase
11. Murderer?
12. Circles
13. If I Could Change It All
14. An Intentional Confrontation
15. A Junkie’s Blues
16. Fear City Slide
17. All the Promises
18. Walk in the Shadows (Encore)
19. Jet City Woman (Encore)

Performance 9/10
Production 9/10

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About Paul Roy

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Nice. Been meaning to pick this up….

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “and proceeded to simply outclass their east coast counterparts.”

    I don’t buy it… I saw Queensryche when they opened for Halford & Maiden @ the Tweeter Center, I think it was back in 2000, and they were horrible. Geoff Tate didn’t have the range & the band lacked any kind of presence or performance. I saw DT on their”Six Inner Degrees” & “Train of Thought” tours(2001,2003) & they were freaking great. Still kicking ass after the 10+ years when I first heard “Images & Words” and never missing a beat.

    Honestly, Queensryche needs to give it a rest.
    Sure, “Operation: Mindcrime” was a brilliant album but you could already see a decline in Mr. Tate’s performance on their 1991 live video and that new sequel completely blows chunks!! I’m all set w/ seeing this blunder on DVD.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    I’ll both agree and disagree – I didn’t see the DT/QR tour in question, but I still think they outclass DT, at least performance-wise. They’re just a classier act, that’s all. Musically, well, yeah, nothing besides Tribe has been all that great in a very long time (although I have some strange soft spot for Hear in the Now Frontier, or at least it’s stronger songs.)

    But I’ll disagree that this is the beginning of some big new start for the band. I think this is the end. With this tour and now the “greatest hits” tour (as I’ve actually seen it being billed) it sounds to me like Queensryche is out playing what the people want to hear one last time. They’ve wrapped up the Mindcrime saga (which didn’t need a sequel at all,) toured for both albums once again, now there’s another best-of coming out at the end of the summer for which they’re touring, and presumably will be recording that for release as well. Those things sound like the actions of a band getting ready to hang it up. This would be a good point to call it quits. It has to happen sometime, why not now while they have some semblance of integrity?

  • Paul Roy

    I just wasn’t crazy about Dream Theater’s Train of Thought tour, just like I wasn’t crazy about the album. Queensryche played all the hits that night – and they rocked. “Outclassed” may have been a little harsh, but I definately enjoyed Queensryche’s set more. I also think that DT has certainly been in as much of a decline as Queensryche during the last decade. And Tom, I didn’t mean to imply that I though Queensryche were on the verge of some big, new start. I am just hoping that they are. Maybe Mike Stone has some songwriting chops, and can infuse some new life into the band.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    I have to agree with Tom Johnson’s sentiments that QR are on their way out. Mindcrime II was a let down. QR peaked back in the ’80s, about 20 years ago. They have not been able to recapture their brilliance on record since then. I saw them a couple of years ago and while they were excellent, I couldn’t help but feel that they were creatively spent, having to ressurect the Mindcrime concept to garner some interest. Iron Maiden came back and in a strong way with their last album. I hope QR can find a producer who is willing to tell it like it is and then make a comeback.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “I also think that DT has certainly been in as much of a decline as Queensryche during the last decade.”

    Comments like this make me laugh because you can’t be serious. And these statements about Queensryche being Classier?! What are you talking about?

    Sure, it’s one thing to like Queensryche but to say they are better or classier than DT is just plain out retarded. I mean *WTF*..DT hasn’t had to review an old release until “Score” and they did that to thank the fans NOT because their ship is sinking or because their latest release sucks balls like OMII.

    This is absoloutley ridiculous and really doesn’t rate any more responses from me

  • Paul Roy

    Jesus, I’m devistated that I don’t deserve any more responses from the resident Blogcritics music expert. Try reading what I actually said, not just what is convenient to slay me with. Dream Theater has been my favorite prog-metal band since Images and Words, but if you have been happy with their output since Scenes From A Memory, then let’s just agree that our tastes our very different.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i actually thought that Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence was killer, though i admit that i’m no expert on their discography.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Just so that I am not trying to conveniently slay you…

    “Back in 2003, when Dream Theater was still my favorite progressive-metal band..”

    Obviously, you lean towards Queensryche(even though they aren’t prog metal)and that’s fine.But, I’ll tell you something… Music has been my life since I was 8 y/o & Iron Maiden’s “Killers” was the first tape I had owned.At 10, I picked up the drum sticks. Since then, I have listened to everything in the metal spectrum which gives me a kind of a “taught” ear. So, with that being said, you can like Queenryche all you want but “Six Inner Degrees” & “Train of Thought” have far more solid & stronger material than QR has put out in a decade. “Live at Budokan” shows how these guys are still tight & have great showmanship.
    NO, I may not be thrilled with “Octavarium” or “Systematic Chaos”(DT isn’t one of my favorite metal bands at the moment) but right there that is more original material than QR has put out in a long time. To be honest, “Systematic” sounds like they are trying to do something different & maybe even appeal to the younger crowd. Hell, why not??

    All in all, Queensryche’s latest releases have been poor.QMII isn’t even Metal in my mind it sounds like Hard Rock.BUT, If their studio work is poor, I don’t buy that they could “outclass” a world reknown live band on stage. Your point doesn’t have any validity to it..

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