By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Jannus Live, St. Petersburg, Florida–January 18th, 2020
Queensryche is a name familiar to every prog-rock, metalhead, and hard rock aficionado – but, as I found out recently, not as recognized by the mainstream public as I expected them to be. I told people I work with I was shooting Queensryche Saturday, and most said, Who?” That’s just not right! I mean, it’s totally true that “The band’s name is uttered in the same breath as many of the groups they looked to as influences and others who arose as peers…like Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Def Leppard.” The band has been around for almost forty years (since 1980!), released 16 full-length albums, and survived, no, thrived after a nasty split and lawsuit by the former singer/guitarist, won or were nominated for Grammy awards, Concrete Foundation awards, and MTV Music Video awards, and still don’t get the name recognition they deserve! Their lineup has been stable for a few years: Michael Wilton – guitars (1980–present), Scott Rockenfield – drums, keyboards (1980–present, currently on indefinite hiatus since 2017), Eddie Jackson – bass, backing vocals (1980–present), Parker Lundgren – guitars, backing vocals (2011–present, 2009–2011 touring),Todd La Torre – lead vocals (2012–present), drums (2018 in studio), and Casey Grillo – drums (2017–present – touring). Their music is fresh – one guitarist friend said he thought the latest album, The Verdict, is their best album since Empire! (Which won a Concrete Foundations Award.)
Let’s hope 2020 is the year of more mainstream recognition! The concertgoers were a range of ages, from 20s to 70s – and maybe older. Spread the word, people, his band isn’t going away, retiring, on their final tour, but in the midst of a creative resurgence!
Supporting them on this tour, the middle act, was John 5. “For almost 30 years, John 5 has been one of the most in-demand guitar players on the planet. As well as a guitarist for hire, 5 has shared the stage as axe-man for Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Rob Halford. He has also worked with an impressive array of names, from all walks of music, including KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Dave Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Tina Guo and Steven Adler.” Yeah, I can understand why, he would fit right in with The Guitar Collective that I saw last year! Don’t let the outlandish theatrical outfit fool you, John and his creatures are musicians first, showmen second, and excellent at both!
John was aided by excellent support work from Ian Ross on bass and drummer Logan Miles Nix. And, well, his altered ego?
All in all, a show enjoyed by guitar virtuosos and us common folk alike!
Starting things off, my first thought was, “I know that bass player!” Despite the comparative lack of make-up, Ilyn Nathaniel has a pretty distinctive look, one I last saw (ironically, during his last show with them) playing with Together in Exile, on this very same stage, and as I was reminded by Ilyn later, almost two years ago! So both the headliner and the opening band have strong Tampa Bay roots, and are representing the area’s reputation as a heavy-metal haven well! Besides Ilyn, the band consists of Taki Sassaris-Vocals/ Founding member, Alex Sassaris-Drums/ Founding Member, Jeff Raines- Drummer, and Ronny Gutierrez -Guitar. Their new album, Ithaca, contains a few hits from the show – and note, the band has a new website, the old one is still up, but all the info on it is outdated. Catch up with them live or on the web, I guarantee a great show!
When not in custody, I've been involved with music, photography, and writing my entire life. Ever since I was a young boy and played those silver tunes, I've had the beat, but being a drummer didn't suit me so I became a lead singer, which lasted a few years. Settling down, sort of, I translated my knowledge of audio and glib tongue into mobile emcee work, and my training as a photographer and videographer into a living in the wedding, party, bar/bat mitzvah, and entertainment industry. During this time I also managed to bamboozle my way into a master's degree in writing, worked for a couple of magazines (yes, I took photos for a nudist magazine!), have photographed hotels, done commercial work (shot the cover of Tablet and Capsule magazine), published a few articles, hosted some public access shows (a couple times in drag, but that's another story), and generally made a nuisance of myself until I landed here.
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