Queensryche: Spreading The Disease with the Digital Noise Alliance tour in Columbus, OH Review+Photos: Queensryche, Marty Friedman & Trauma at Newport Music Hall 4/4/23
COLUMBUS, OH- Queensryche made a stop at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH, on their “Digital Noise Alliance” tour, To celebrate the release of their sixteenth album of the same name, Queensryche is on the road sharing this brilliant album with their fans. The bill is stacked with fellow metal legends shredder, Marty Friedman, and Bay Area thrash/heavy metallers Trauma (the original band Cliff Burton was in before he joined Metallica) as support. This tour package is exceptional in that it offers fans an awesome and diverse array of heavy music.
Opening band, Trauma kicked off the evening with their brand of Thrash metal setting up the attendees for a great night of unbridled rocking music. The Bay Area band bolsters a unique heritage as one of the early Bay Area thrash bands, the same scene that produced Metallica and Exodus. The band is on tour supporting their latest album called Awakening which came out at the tail end of 2022. For those new to the band like myself, they are Kris Gustofson (drums), Steve Robello (guitar), Brian Allen, who replaced original singer Donnie Hillier after his untimely death in 2020 (vocals), Michael Spencer (bass), and Casey Trask (guitar).
This was my first time seeing and hearing the band and I must say, watching them was both thrilling as they brought great energy to their performance. Brian Allen, has a powerful voice that cuts through the heavy guitar riffs and thundering drums, while engaging the crowd the entire performance. Guitarist, Trask was particularly fun to watch as he bopped around the stage whilst also trading licks with Robello.
Trauma is a band worth seeing. They made the most of their limited time on stage. The band’s chemistry was on point, and you could really tell that they love to play together, with plenty of humor and interaction with each other on stage. Overall, Trauma was great fun to watch. If you are a fan of classic heavy metal, I’d highly recommend becoming a new fan of Trauma.
The air was abuzz as we waited through the set change for Marty Friedman and his band. They are on what has been labeled as the “Energy Oasis” tour. Backed by a trio of musicians from Japan, which is comprised of guitarist Naoki Morioka, Bassist Wakazaemon and the incredibly energetic drummer, Chargeeeeee, Friedman is free to express his innovative and inspiring guitar chops effortlessly. The mostly instrumental performance by Marty and his band is simply jaw-dropping and smile-inducing. You can’t help but be floored by the massive musical talent on the stage. Marty took us back to his blazing Loudspeaker album with songs “Stigmata Addiction,” “Devil Take Tomorrow,” and “Paradise Express.” Through flashing lights, his guitar sang with a fierce passion that was personified in the performance of everyone on stage and gave each musician time to shine.
Chargeeeeee is an animal and everything a metal drummer should be. He matches Friedman’s wild energy perfectly. Whilst Morioka and Wakazaemon are more subdued, but by no means stoic. They perform as a cohesive unit, interacting with each other and trading licks the whole time. They closed their high energy set with “Kaze ga Fuiteiru” from the latest album Tokyo Jukebox 3. It was a truly magnificent show.
One more thing I feel important to mention, during the set, a few fans on the rail had displayed a banner for Marty and the band. As they took their bows, he saw it and looked really touched by the sentiment, pointing and giving the thank you bow and hand signs. All of a sudden, Chargeeeeee leaped off stage to them and jumped back up on the rail, rallying the audience to cheer louder for his bandmates. It was a cool interaction.
Queensryche took the stage on the heels of Pantera’s song “Walk” played over the PA, which garnered cheers and a sing along from the crowd. It set up the atmosphere as the lights dim as the opening notes and anthemic drums of “Behind the Wall” beckon the start of an incredible set of music. This was quickly followed by “Don’t Look Back” setting the pace for this special night with the band. What I loved most about the show was the fact that we got to hear a fairly diverse and deep setlist consisting of a range of material fans have not heard live in years. We were immediately treated to two songs from “The Warning” LP. “Child of Fire” was the last song of my time in the photo pit. I was singing along, quite poorly, I might add, as I hurriedly captured images before exiting. “En Force” was blended with no definitive break that almost sounded like the same song.
As can be expected from a band with such a diverse catalog of music and encompasses 2 very distinct eras with lead singers, the band gave place to the newer material as they did the classics. Idiotically, I’ve actually spent the last 10 years being a gate-keeper for Geoff Tate by being completely unwilling to support Todd Le Torre. For that I am sorry to him and the current line-up, which includes the two remaining founding members, guitarist Michael Wilton and Bass master, Eddie Jackson, for being such a dumbass.
The thing about Le Torre’s voice is he can match note for note the vocal lines that were laid before him, whilst carving his own voice in the newer material, and he does it effortlessly. I’m thankful that he wasn’t left to be a karaoke singer just singing the hits and never really being able to shine on his own. The band is rounded out by guitarist Mike Stone and drummer Casey Grillo, who also had some big shoes to fill in regard to Chris DeGarmo and Scott Rockenfield respectfully, fit well in the current line-up.
6 of the 16 song set are from the Le Torre era, which featured the songs “Forest” which Todd said was about losing a loved one. whilst the remaining 10 were a deep dive into their vast classic catalog. Songs from Empire and Mindcrime received the most recognition during the set which included “Spreading The Disease”, “Jet City Woman” which features Jackson’s thunderous bass line opening and “Empire” which saw the sound system cut out at the end of it.
There was a short break as the techs and sound engineers got it fixed. Which saw the band members testing their instruments and mics. Finally able to return, Wilton played the opening guitar line to “My Empty Room”. The backing track of the ticking of the clock could be heard until the climactic ending of the song, which which then the playback of the familiar overhead hospital PA system could be heard, ie “Dr Blair, Dr. Blair. Dr James Hamilton, Dr James Hamilton” before erupting into the closer of both the main set and the “Operation: Mindcrime” story, “Eyes of a Stranger.” It was played to perfection as was the rest of the set.
The band took another short break, before returning for the encore. “Deliverance” was first up. To be honest hearing songs from “The Warning” album was a special treat for me as it is in my opinion, their best album from the classic era. I don’t think I’ve heard any of those songs played live before. They reached way back to the bands beginnings for “Queen of The Ryche” from the debut ep. Todd hit every note and that’s got a lot of high notes. I was thrilled for the last song of the night which was “Road to Madness” also from the “Warning” Album. It was also that song, which made me change my mind about the current line up after seeing a video my friend posted of the HOB Anaheim show early on the tour.
Queensryche is still a powerful voice on the musical landscape. They’re in their 41st year as a band, still going strong. Releasing new music. Touring both as support and as a headliner. If you get a chance to see them, please do? I highly recommend it.