The Ryche Last Night at Club Red

Queensryche wasn't in town last night, but for their fans, what went down at Club Red had to be the very definition of "next best thing." Following an introduction by Queensryche singer Geoff Tate, in town to pimp his Insania Wine, the Ryche took the stage.

Arguably the premier Queensryche tribute band in the country, the crowd treated them so; shouting, cheering and singing along. The band possessed the magnetism of a group in love with what they're doing, rocking the room full of big hair, embellished shirts and leather pants. It was almost like the real thing, except, y'know, it wasn't. Not quite.   

The symbiotic relationship between Tate and the band was the most interesting aspect of the performance. Both entities seemed to feed off the presence of the other; the hope was, of course, that Tate would join the band onstage for a number or two.

Tate never materialized onstage, but the band played extra hard for his benefit, flanked by video screens and Club Red's light system. Singer Norm Saavedra put it best: "Geoff Tate has been my idol for 30 years."

In my article about the band in this week's paper, I wrote about how impressive the band's dedication to their source material was. Watching them live, I was impressed by how dedicated the crowd was to them.

The fans reacted to songs like "The Mission," "Revolution Calling" and the title track of Queensryche's most famous album Operation Mindcrime with an energetic response, as if the fact that somewhere the man himself was waiting in the wings was electrifying the crowd.

Personally, it seems like such a strange idea for something like a "tribute scene" to exist. 

I have a difficult time imagining what it will feel like 15 or 20 years from now, when Last Night, a tribute to The Strokes, or Mr. Brightside, a tribute to The Killers, is packing some local club with nostalgic 30- to-40-somethings.

In a lot of ways, I feel like my generation's too jaded for that, but I could be wrong. Last night, after fumbling with the sound-man for bit, the band performed Queensryche's acoustic power-ballad, "Silent Lucidity," and the crowd sang along to every word, even hoisting lighters in the air. They probably never imagined that one day tribute bands would consume their Saturday nights when they were rocking out to their Queensryche LPs and slamming beers in their twenties.  

It's easy to laugh at the idea of people taking this all so seriously, but I can't help but wonder if part of the appeal is that, for a few minutes anyway, you get to go back in time. That you don't have to take things so seriously. Maybe you'll never look as fresh as your glory days, but you can still sound that way.

Critic's Notebook

Last night:
The Ryche at Club Red.

The crowd: Big hair, big boobs, lots of those shirts that look like Ed Hardy designs but aren't. Everyone was into the scene, slamming drinks and hi-fiving. It sort of felt like The Gas Works scene in Wayne's World.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I can't cheat on my wife, she's right over there."

Personal Bias: I'm not the world's biggest prog-rock/opera-metal dude, which isn't to say that I wasn't impressed with what the band did, it's just that after a couple hours of it, I was ready to listen to something less histrionic and epic.

Random Notebook Dump: "You wouldn't expect Norm's voice to last as long as it does." 

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.

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