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One of the hottest Heavy Metal tours in 2023 hit Anaheim, CA on Sunday night March 19 as Queensrÿche along with special guest Marty Friedman and thrash metal veterans Trauma opening the night took over House of Blues to deliver a night of metal madness. Queensrÿche have been out on the road quite a bit lately as they spent much of 2022 opening for Judas Priest on their 50 Heavy Metal Years tour while Marty Friedman recently made headlines around the world as he joined Megadeth onstage at Tokyo’ Budakon, playing a few songs with his former band for the first time in 23 years.

This triple bill of metal music kicked off at 8:00pm as veteran rockers Trauma hit the stage for a short memorable set of heavy music. The band most known for being Metallica bassist’s Cliff Burton’s (RIP) original band now only features a single original member (well almost original, since 1982) – drummer Kris Gustofson but along with vocalist Brian Allen, bassist Michael Spencer and the twin axe attack of Steve Robello and Casey Trask, the band delivered an energetic set of metal that mostly focused on their 2022 release, Awakening.  The venue was packed early and the fans certainly were into each song Trauma delivered. Trauma is the perfect fit to open this show as they provided that perfect Sunday night spark to ignite House of Blues in preparation for Marty Friedman.

Marty Friedman is the quintessential guitar maestro and a huge international star not only in music but television as well. Friedman re-located to Japan 20 years ago and has become one of the country’s biggest stars. While he did release a few solo albums while he was a member of Megadeth he has released over a dozen since leaving the band in 2000 and has toured as a solo artist since. Out supporting his 2021 release, Tokyo Jukebox 3, this is the first time Friedman has toured the USA since 2019.  The fans started a “Marty, Marty, Marty” chant as the lights dimmed and Friedman took the stage with his band, and they all huddled around the drumkit for a pre-show ritual and kicked off the night with the upbeat rocker “Stigmata Addiction” from 2006’s Loudspeaker. This kicked off a seven-song set that mesmerized Anaheim as he delivered some killer guitar tone resulting from his truly unique picking style on his new signature Jackson Purple fractured Mirror guitar.

Friedman’s live show is all instrumental, so the focus is 100% on his guitar playing but his band also displays some extreme talent most notably from his long-time drummer Chargeeeeee who is one of the most energetic, hard hitting drummers on the planet. This guy delivers a show within a show as he is constantly standing and sitting and pointing at the crowd – just an amazing spectacle behind the kit. Left-handed bassist Wakazaemon is a petite Japanese girl that delivers a fat sound from her 5-string bass while guitarist Naoki Morioka is a young shredder who complimented Marty Friedman’s playing perfectly.

Friedman addressed the crowd a few times, professing his love for the fans. He comes off as a very genuine human being and the “Marty, Marty, Marty” chants would startup in between each song. One of the highlights of the show was the brief part of Megadeth’s “Tornado of Souls”, one of Friedman’s most masterful songs while in Megadeth, that song certainly received one of the loudest cheers from the crowd.  Additional songs played included “Paradise Express” and “Dragon Mistress” then Friedman invited someone from the audience up on stage to play with him and that someone turned out to be Frankie Lindia who is the guitar player for the World’s Greatest Van Halen Tribute band, The Atomic Punks. Friedman handed Lindia one of his guitars and the two traded off licks and jammed together onstage for about 10 minutes ending with a big hug. Friedman then ended the night with the upbeat “Kaze Ga Fuiteiru”. 45 minutes of truly mesmerizing guitar mastery – the USA needs more of Marty Friedman on its stages!!

Queensrÿche have been around for 40 years now having carved their own path in the progressive metal world. The band is currently headlining their 30 date Digital Alliance Tour supporting their 2022 release, Digital Noise Alliance.  Yes, some members have changed in Queensrÿche, but the band remains a force to be reckoned with led by the amazing Todd La Torre on vocals. Opening the night with the driving force of “Behind the Walls”, a rocking up-tempo song from Digital Noise Alliance, the band changed up their setlist for this headline tour and have removed many of “the hits” and have focused their set on several deep classics such as “Child of Fire” and “EnForce” while also playing seven songs from their recent albums with La Torre on vocals. Kudos to the band for putting more emphasis on the current version of the band as the music they are releasing in recent years deserves to be heard live.

While guitarist Michael Wilton and bass player Eddie Jackson remain the two original members, the band continues to deliver in top form. Wilton with his iconic skull painted ESP guitar continues to be the driving force of the band. La Torre’s voice is a shrieking masterpiece as he nails every with extreme precision, it is beyond magical to hear and watch him perform.  Previous guitarist Mike Stone is back on second guitar and holds his own with Wilton while Casey Grillo is a dynamic hard-hitting drummer that hammers out a huge sound from his kit. Queensrÿche in 2023 sounds better than ever and delivers a kick-ass show with each member having a high degree of technical proficiency on their respective instruments and Todd La Torre remains the perfect fit for this band with his piercing vocals.

The band ended the night with two additional masterpiece cuts from their epic 1984 debut album The Warning with “Deliverance” and “Roads to Madness”. The Digital Alliance Tour runs through mid-April as Queensrÿche crosses the country ending in St. Petersburgh FL taking the band back to the state of Florida where the tour started.


Chris Loomis

Photo Journalist - Orange County

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