red lights


Operation executed for first
time in fifteen years

House of Blues
Chicago, IL
January 19, 2005
Queensryche Queensryche

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

The birth of Queensryche dates back to the early 1980s, a decade the group conquered with its thrashing blend of melodic hard rock and heavy metal. Although they had a string of hits throughout that hair heavy period, the band was perhaps best known for the conceptual work Operation:mindcrime, a project released in 1990 that spawned a two-year highly interactive tour. Like The Who's Tommy or Pink Floyd's The Wall (though on a much lesser scale of overall cultural impact) the epic work featured a rock opera cast of characters complete with a detail intensive storyline that unfolded before viewers' eyes. However, ever since that original presentation, the acted out version has been reserved strictly for home video audiences and has been omitted entirely from the stage. QueensrycheYet all that changed for fans come this year, starting with this opening night of Operation:mindcrime's resurrection tour, a jaunt presented in full Surround Sound complete with live actors, scene changes and high price production.
But die-hards who packed out the House of Blues (in the first of four total area concerts, which return to the venue January 27-29) had to wait yet one more hour to see the plot come to fruition as the group warmed up with a greatest hits set. Queensryche The tour's line-up- comprised of vocalist Geoff Tate, guitarist Michael Wilton, guitarist Mike Stone, bassist Eddie Jackson and drummer Scott Rockenfield- worked through a few kinks and shook off the winter's inactivity, slowly settling into catalogue cornerstones like "Jet City Woman," "Lady Wore Black" and "Empire." To the loyal appreciators, these were received with warmth and fists popped straight up in the air, though hearing the razor-like guitars and aqua net arrangements would've been patience trying for uninitiated. (Queensryche was always one of those acts accepted wholeheartedly by its niche and written off by those outside the circle as merely one of the many products from their most profitable decade).
Regardless of how one felt going into the event, there was no denying the spectacle and showmanship behind act two in the evening- the complete unraveling of the aforementioned. The chilling tale of murderous proportions was laid out through its cannon of cuts ("Revolution Calling," "Spreading The Disease" and "Mission" to name a few) all of which were encompassed under an umbrella described most succinctly by as "a disillusioned fortune hunter of the Reagan era joins an underground movement to assassinate political scumbags." Vocalist Pamela Moore played key character Sister Mary and she was encompassed by a sensory overload of visuals and expanded footage from the early 90s experience. Though the story was not immediately accessible, nor were lyrics always distinguishable given all the character's clamoring in front of giant screens, the action was impossible to ignore.
And after those over the top antics and head banging fury behind the finale piece "Eyes of a Stranger," Queensr˙che treated its guests to one final plot segment. It was a brief preview of the gang's forthcoming sequel Operation:mindcrime II, a long awaited project that promises to address its precursor's burning question: "Who killed Sister Mary?" Granted, the average person could probably live without this titillating tidbit, though those following the plot religiously left hanging on every word.

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