QUEENSRYCHE, ARMORED SAINT, MIDNIGHT ETERNAL – THE CUBAN CLUB – TAMPA, FL
Halfway through their Fall 2016 tour, Queensryche took over the outdoor venue of The Cuban Club in The historical ‘Ybor City’ section of Tampa, FL. Rolling into an open air venue that as little as three days prior was uncertain as to if the show would go on or not. As well as the ‘home town stop’ for front man Todd La Torre, this was a show that was guaranteed to be exciting for those in attendance. With legendary metal band Armored Saint preceding them, and symphonic metal band Midnight Eternal, this tour brings along a very diverse group. Not just in the crowd, but on stage as well.
An hour before the gates even opened, the line to get in the courtyard spanned down the block and to the corner. As the time drew closer, the line continued to grow longer by the minute. Waiting in line were people of all ages and backgrounds. From mid forty’s men in suits who came straight from the office, to teenagers who left school and came right over, to some even in their late sixties.
From Manhattan, NY Midnight Eternal opened the show to a thunderous rouse of applause. Lead vocalist Raine Hilai was faced with a massive PA issue that was not resolved until part way through Armored Saint. With weakened vocals, and only a half volume sound behind her, she was still able to captivate the audience with her stage presence. With the body and arm movements that would more often be found on stage at an opera theatre, her vocal power could not be denied, especially to those who could fully hear her. I can only imagine what she could have done with a full setup. The rest of the band though was not just a compliment to her, rather they completed her sound. While her vocal range could have easily stood out acappella, the band quite honestly rounded out the sound. For most of the crowd, Midnight Eternal was simply a band they had yet to ever experience, judging from the number of people dropping by their merch table after their set, this is a band they will not soon forget. Look to see them on longer and larger tours in the future!!!
After coming back together in 2006 and a career spanning over 20 years, Armored Saint is not a new act. Looking around the crowd, you could see people who had been fans of theirs for decades. While taking advantage of a full set time to get the crowd riled up, they ensured they not only left all their energy on the stage, they also ensured to include some of their classic tracks such as ‘Last Train Home’, ‘Reign of Fire’ and their outstanding and one of their best known song of ‘Can U Deliver’ as their encore. While many bands before them have been able to say that they have had staying power, few can say that they can take time away to work on other projects and still draw in fans like Armored Saint can. Talking to a few people between sets, some had come from Fort Meyers, Orlando, and Daytona Beach on a weekday, just to catch Armored Saint. Simply put, they proved that not only do they have the staying power that rivals many multi-platinum artists, their fan base is as rabid as they come.
Yet despite that rabid fan base, the home town show for Queensryche vocalist Todd La Torre meant it would be a packed house full of friends and loved ones from his childhood. Unlike shows before this show had one thing I had never seen before; sports like introductions for everyone in the band. With the utilization of lcd boards on either side of the stage, this gave an almost arena like feel to the start of their set, despite the smaller outdoor venue. Standing shoulder to shoulder and pressed up to the stage, their fans soaked up every ounce of energy the band was giving out and firing it back twice as hard. Featuring tracks from across their whole catalog, there was something for every fan. While Todd has been renowned for his amazing vocal range, this was honestly the best live performance I have heard from him to date. Now this is not to say that he has ever disappointed, but this show seemed more personal, and more important than shows in the past.
One of the most amazing spots of their set came just before the end of their set while playing ‘Jet City Woman’. While most of the evening had been quiet as far as local noise went, if you were away from the PA that was now cranked to 11, and looking up, you could not only see a jet heading in to the Tampa airport, but you could ever so faintly hear it. It added in a nice little dynamic that I am willing to bet many did not catch. Yet this was honestly not the best part of the show.
While used during the Midnight Eternal set and as showcased by Todd on Face Book live earlier in the day, Todd and Raine were utilizing two very unique, and intricate microphone stands. These stands were designed by renowned drummer, owner of Saw Blade Head Designs, Shawn Lowery. Shawn is not just a personal friend of Todd’s, he is also kicking the shit out of cancer as I write this. Todd brought him up on stage to have him sing along for a song, and introduce him to the crowd. I had an opportunity to speak with Shawn at the end of the show, and there is not a more positive, upbeat and determined man that I have met to date. If you’re looking for custom metal work, please look them up. You truly will not be disappointed to see the level of dedication and craftsmanship this man puts into his work.
Overall this was a tour that should have had an even bigger crowd. Had the show not been at risk so much, and so close to the date, I believe the venue would have easily been at 100% capacity. If you have not caught these three bands on this tour, go do so in the future. I can guarantee you will not regret it. Being able to witness two of the most enduring and diverse rock bands in the last 30 years, as well as one of the best up and coming bands all on one ticket is not a tour that comes along every day, or hell, even every year.