Queensrÿche / Firewind / Dark Sky Choir (Sheffield 2019)

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Queensrÿche / Firewind / Dark Sky Choir - Foundry, Sheffield (UK) - 25 November 2019

I had never been to this venue before, didn't even know it existed. The internet told me where to go. And fortunately, it was almost next door to where we could eat before going to the show. Strangely though, I had never noticed a venue in that area before, and there was a reason for that. Unbeknownst to me, there are (at least) three places in Sheffield that go under the name "Foundry", but the one we went to must be the right one, as it says it is a three-room concert venue. And it was, but primarily it was a church hall, and not somewhere you would expect to find the bands we had come to see tonight. We were, it turned out, on the wrong side of the city. We would probably be late. Having worked out which "Foundry" we actually needed to be at, after eating we set off again and found the building that we thought it was hidden in, and hidden was the right word, as we could see no sign or indication of where it was. We asked and were told where to go, and we found it, but no-one was there, and we hadn't seen a queue and I started to think that nobody else could find it either. We had actually come through a back door, where nobody had challenged us, and we actually saw the queue from inside. Well, at least we were here, and the bands hadn't started yet.

Now, here's the thing. On the (correct) website, it stated the time of 7:30pm. I thought this was the start time, but obviously it was the doors opening time. Well it was both, and it is something that happened only last week, where the first band came on at the same time the doors opened. So Dark Sky Choir were playing at the start to about ten people, and it was very difficult for the front-man to create an atmosphere with a crowd of that size. Credit to him, he actually asked them to scream for him, and they did, twice, the second time louder as around another ten people had come in. But why do they do this? I don't know, but the band gave it their all despite this, and their nose to the grind Metal appeared to please the much bigger crowd before the end of their seven-song, thirty minute set.

Setlist: Perils Of The Night, I Am The Fire, Lost In Oblivion, I See Red, I Come Alive, Static Death, Misery.

The fact that Firewind were doing a support slot tonight surprised me. I remember seeing them years ago, before Gus G was enlisted as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, and the simple fact that he did that, would have, I thought, given him a higher celebrity rating. But here he was, playing in a small venue that probably not many people knew about or could find. The band were a little late starting, and despite the band having a new (well almost, he had toured with the band in 2007) vocalist in Henning Basse, the music was still as good as it was the last time I saw them, and Gus still has all the moves. Despite not having much room and very little light, they looked to be enjoying themselves, and there was a bit of a contest where Gus played with the guitar at the back of his head after covering the keyboard player's keys with a cloth. To be fair, I think the keyboard player (Bob Katsionis) got my vote as he also played guitar, but was particularly flash when he played both at the same time. Rather disappointingly, they only played for thirty minutes, rather than their usual fourty-five, due, Gus told us, to the strict curfew of the venue.

Setlist: Ode To Leonidas, We Defy, Head Up High, World On Fire, Guitar solo, I Am The Anger

I still find it difficult to understand why Queensrÿche (and Firewind for that matter) are playing venues this small. There was very little lighting, members who were far left and right of the stage being hardly discernible, and the only effect as such was the digital screen behind the drum riser. I remember the days when I saw them at City Hall and other such sized venues. I know it's not the original band as such, only Eddie Jackson and Michael Wilton being the only founding members left, but they still play the same music, and to be honest, Todd La Torre does sound remarkably like Geoff Tate most of the time. There was a healthy sized audience by the time they came on seventeen minutes late, but no-one seemed bothered as the intro played and they kicked off with 'Blood Of The Levant.' Before doing one of the first songs Queensrÿche ever wrote, 'Queen Of The Reich', Todd explained that he was suffering from a cold (welcome to Britain!) and he really shouldn't be singing it, but he would give it a go. To be honest, you could tell quite clearly when talking that he di, indeed have a cold, but when singing he performed excellently, and I wouldn't have guessed. There was also a relatively new guy on the drum stool, as Casey Grillo replaced Scott Rockenfield in 2017. He did a fairly concise drum solo that ended sort of unexpectedly, before going into 'The Mission', and as good as the new stuff is, there's a lot of the old stuff that the fans all want to hear. I was a little surprised though, at how few "post Tate" songs they actually did. Only three, if you include the intro, and all from the latest album. Nine were from the eighties, with three from the nineties.

Having said that, the band can still put on a show, and it has to be said that there are some classics in those older songs. Probably the most disappointing thing for me was the fact that they were only on for one hour and sixteen minutes, due to the late start and strict curfew. Songs from the usual set had been dropped, while some had been changed (the list below is from the list on stage) due to Todd's cold but, as I said, you couldn't tell when he was actually singing them that he had one, so hats off to him.

Launder The Conscience, Blood Of The Levant, I Am I, NM 156, Man The Machine, Walk In The Shadows, Operation: Mindcrime, Queen Of The Reich, Silent Lucidity, Jet City Woman, The Mission, Screaming In Digital, The Needle Lies, Drum Solo, Take Hold Of The Flame, Eyes Of A Stranger

Words Andy B & Lou C. Pics Andy B.

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