The Verdict is In: Queensrÿche and John 5 Own the House of Blues of Anaheim

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

30 years ago, progressive power metal giants Queensrÿche gave the world its greatest achievement, Empire. It is hard to imagine that record, which produced top hits in the 1990s like “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity,” is turning 30. In recent years, Queensrÿche has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity ever since original frontman Geoff Tate was dismissed and they brought in Todd La Torre. With Torre, the group has dropped 3 critically acclaimed records, including 2019’s The Verdict. Queensrÿche have once again hit the road to not only celebrate their newest LP, but also commemorate 30 years of Empire. One of their stops was at the always popular House of Blues in Anaheim on January 30th, where Rabit and I would be seeing them. Rob Zombie guitar genius John 5 and New York City hard rockers Eve to Adam came along for the adventure.

Combining the flowing rhythms of hard rock and post-grunge, Eve to Adam brought their New York flavor to SoCal. Frontman Taki Sassaris has a cunning singing style that is aggressive but subtle at the same time. He was not overtly flashy on stage, relying only on his voice as his ultimate weapon. Guitarist Ronny Gutierrez strokes a mean chord when he fires out those smoldering riffs that have a crisp hard rock sound. All about partying, debauchery, and rock ‘n’ roll, Eve to Adam was bringing all that and more to the House of Blues stage. From “Immortal” to “Straightjacket Supermodel,” “Locked & Loaded,” “Day Drinking,” “Lucky,” and “Altitude,” the rock festivities got off to a banging start, thanks to the electric showcase efforts of Eve to Adam.

Full Eve to Adam gallery below:

 

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This marks the 4th time in us seeing John 5, twice with Rob Zombie. We first caught him and his solo group, the Creatures, in Fullerton. While that show was exciting, it was very crowded and the energy was off. At the House of Blues, John 5 and the Creatures truly terrorized the fans with their horror-themed riffs. Whenever John 5 got intense with the riffs, he would smile ever so sinisterly and drooled with glee. He is one of the most virtuoso guitarists out there because not only can he bring the metal, but he can fuse in country, bluegrass, jazz, EDM, and contemporary rock very well. He is a true master shredder with a lot of tricks up his sleeves, plus a banjo. Bassist Ian Ross and drummer Logan Nix were the rhythmic backbone of the group, who had the proficiencies of jumping from one style to the next. They are immensely talented musicians, and John 5 is lucky to have them. The stage had medium size screens that aired different horror movie scenes that went along with the wicked stage props. John 5 wrestled out a ton of songs of different varieties like “Crank It – Living With Ghosts,” “Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell, CA,” “Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” “Howdy,” “Season of the Witch,” “First Victim,” “Cactus Flower,” “I Am John 5,” “Zoinks!,” and a cover melody of his favorite riffs. Ominous to the very end, John 5 and the Creatures carried out their legacy of horror-induced rock ‘n’ roll that Anaheim has been craving for.

Full John 5 gallery below:

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The stage is set, and with “Launder the Conscience” playing in background, Queensrÿche stepped onto the stage, kicking off their night with a little “Prophecy.” Right off the bat, La Torre owned the classic Queensrÿche tunes as well as the ones he helped write with his righteous voice. With his custom mic stand in-hand, his tenor singing reaches to the far back of the venue so all can hear his edgy, soulful, and high-pitched voice. Michael “The Whip” Wilton and Parker Lundgren are a dynamic duo on guitars, with each riff after riff stellar as the next. Whip was especially killing it on the solos, although Lundgren got a few tasty licks in there. Bassist and founding member Eddie Jackson kept the thunderous beats flowing very nicely, while drummer Casey Grillo ravaged the kit with supremacy. It was a little disappointing that founding drummer Scott Rockenfield is not touring with Queensrÿche at the moment, but Grillo is a great addition that brings a power metal flavor to the progressive metal machine.

The band spread out their set list pretty evenly, focusing mainly on material from The Verdict, Empire, and Operation: Mindcrime. It was astonishing to hear the iconic songs like “Jet City Woman,” “Breaking the Silence,” “Resistance,” “No Sanctuary,” “Screaming in Digital,” “Operation: Mindcrime,” and “Queen of the Reich” go together very well with the new material like “Bent,” “Man the Machine,” “Dark Reverie,” and “Light-years.” The fans went ape-shit when “Silent Lucidity” was played. It is great on record, but it sounds even better live. After a quick breather, Queensrÿche returned for a grand encore that included “Empire” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” That will leave the loyal followers hungry for more.

Full Queensrÿche gallery below:

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The House of Blues in Anaheim was turned into both a horror-styled madhouse and a progressive, power metal palace. I have never seen Queensrÿche before that evening, so after seeing them for the 1st time, I walked away feeling reconnected to the music I love more so since my father passed. Earlier that evening, I got to interview Whip, which you can check out for yourself HERE. John 5 was an unstoppable guitar wizard, while Eve to Adam brought hard rock swagger to the shindig. It was a fantastic evening to be a metalhead. To Queensrÿche, John 5 and the Creatures, and Eve to Adam, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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