I have two words to say about the latest visual release from Queensr’che - totally awesome. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the initiative behind this live recording of `Mindcrime at the Moore', let me explain some of the finer points. The band decided to record this release at the Moore Theatre in their hometown of Seattle, Washington in front of a partisan crowd of ardent supporters. The main emphasis was to record both `Operation Mindcrime 1' and `Operation Mindcrime 2' albums in chronological order in their entirety and this was one significant accomplishment for any band - 34 songs in total. Furthermore, not only was the music going to be played on stage, but also the band took the unprecedented decision to act the recurring concept out using various actors and props. The original concept began on the first `Operation Mindcrime' release from 1988, which had a dark ominous thread running through the songs with numerous themes of plots, brainwashing, murder and incarceration etc. This was purposely left open ended for a sequel, which eventually arrived eighteen years later in the form of the 2006 release of `Operation Mindcrime 2' and yet again has the familiar story line is still running through, but many of the unanswered questions have now been answered.
The services of long time Queensr’che backing singer, Pamela Moore have been utilised, not only does she add a good visual perspective to the stage show, but also backs Geoff Tate up on several of the tracks. I was duly impressed with the way the concept unfolds, Geoff Tate playing one of the lead roles as well as singing, highlighting what a true professional he is. Tate's voice is as youthful as it was twenty years ago, maybe it has matured somewhat over the years, but he does not miss a note and sings with such emotion and conviction. Tate has been heralded as one of the finest vocalists within the realms of progressive metal and with this release, it fittingly proves that. Credit must also go to founding member and guitarist Michael Wilton who is and extraordinary player, again playing straight from the heart and his guitar sound has been the mainstay for what Queensr’che are today. Much criticism has been levelled at the second guitar spot since the departure of the much-appreciated Chris De Garmo almost ten years ago. Mike Stone has big shoes to fill as the second guitarist and has been with the band for a few short years now. I also had my reservations about his input and style of playing listening to him on past releases, and often felt that just maybe he was not the right player for the band, style wise as well as his stage persona.
Well, hopefully all is forgiven, as my preconceived ideas of Stone were unjustified, as I am now of the opinion that he is so well suited to the band and is undoubtedly the best guy for the job. What I like about him is the fact that he has not gone out there to recreate De Garmo's guitar pieces, but has added his own interpretation to the songs and plays with a technical fluidity. He is definitely the best tag partner for Wilton and they play along as one cohesive unit. Bassist Eddie Jackson is rock-solid with his bass work and his instrument is right up in the mix making his presence felt. I have been a firm believer the drummer, Scott Rockenfield, has been the most overlooked drummer in progressive metal. Whenever the talk of drummers arises, Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater's name is never too far from mention, but never have I heard of Rockenfield's name spoken about in the same light. Unquestionably, he is one of the great technical players of the modern era, brings so much to the band by playing with energised passion, and is a pleasure to watch. At the end of the concert the band play an encore of two old favourite tracks, `Walk in the Shadows and `Jet city Woman'. Moving along, the visual clarity is superb, the lighting rig is great and the use of different stage props is spellbinding.
Multiple cameras have been utilised around the stage and there are some different camera angles that have been used to maximum effect. The sound is equally impressive (with the standard Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound) and a whole host of other great features. In addition, there is a 29-minute tour documentary as well as a motorcycle charity ride the band took part in which is a pleasant feature to end this remarkable concert. If you have not secured a copy of any of Queensr’che's d.v.d's in the past, then this is the one for you and it encapsulates all that is great about this band. Obvious comparisons are going to be drawn to the original album, but you have to congratulate the band for maintaining the overall feel of `Mindcrime', the quality of the songs that were written 18 years ago were so strong there was no chance the songs could compare. Upon listening to the `Operation Mindcrime 2' album soon after its release, I myself, was disappointed and felt that the sequel was a let down and not as powerful as the original opus. My attitude certainly changed after viewing this d.v.d. as the whole concert was put into perspective and I can say that the latest `Mindcrime' can stand proudly with the original. In closing, this is a fantastic band whose roots travel back as far as the early eighties and even in 2007, they are still able to captivate the audiences. This is a worthwhile addition to any metal anthology and already is now a favourite in my collection.