Queensryche & Armored Saint – Pittsburgh, PA -4/24/2024

Last night Queensryche made another visit to The Roxian Theater in Pittsburgh’s McKees Rocks neighborhood, where they last headlined a triple-bill showcase featuring Marty Friedman and Trauma. This time, they brought Armored Saint along, visiting the city together for the first time since 2016 when they played at The Rex.

While we weren’t in town when Armored Saint came through back in 2022, some may recall that John Bush had taken ill around the time the visited Pittsburgh with W.A.S.P. and later had enlisted Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) to step up on lead vocals.

Thankfully everyone was healthy this time through and aside from a minor technical glitch during the band’s finale of “Reign of Fire,” the evening went rather smoothly. Armored Saint took the stage shortly after eight.  I must admit it was a long, cold wait outside for what had started out as a warm, sunny day.  Fans entered the venue about an hour before showtime, with some spending hours in the cold to get the best vantage point in the general admission pit at The Roxian Theater.

The band tore through about a dozen songs which included the energetic “Tribal Dance” and “Last Train Home” early on. Considering the tour is called origins, we appreciated that they were taking us back to their 1991 release Symbol of Salvation. Despite being their fourth album, it was honestly the first album to put the band on our radar. Not to worry for those who’ve been there since the beginning when I was in grade school, they also brought out “Can U Deliver” from their 1984 debut album and the album’s title track “March of the Saint.”

While they split soon after that fourth album as frontman John Bush took over lead vocals for Anthrax, it didn’t take long for the band to resurface with this current line-up which also features brother Phil Sandoval (guitar) and Gonzo Sandoval (drums), Jeff Duncan (guitar) and Joey Vera (bass). In fact, we can still vividly remember the club tour they did with Dio and Lynch Mob and the fact that we had to drive all the way to Bogart’s in Cincinnati to see the show.

We must note that the metal halted mid-set for a rendition of “Happy Birthday” complete with a cake delivery from Queensryche in honor of bassist Joey Vera’s big day, but continued on with a contagious energy that kept us engaged the entire set.  From Gonzo’s dramatic pauses following each song as he climbed his massive kit to his brother’s dance moves, we thoroughly enjoyed the vibe, and considering that the kit was weighted down so that the double bass would slide off the stage, heavy would be an understatement for band’s sound.  It would seem they were unstoppable.

That was, until…the music stoped.  As John banged his head and pounded his fists to the music during their finale of “Reign of Fire,” his microphone cut out.  And then, as if someone literally pulled the plug, the fretwork of Jeff and Phil and the pounding of Joey’s bass fell silent as well.  Quickly realizing that something went very wrong, the band stopped playing their now silent instruments and everyone looked for a solution.  I decided it would be fun to hear Gonzo continue, since he was the only one we could actually hear, and he humored me for a minute with a quick solo actually honoring my request!  It wasn’t long after the John ditched his in-ears and the band finished strong amongst an even louder roar from the crowd.

And it seems this won’t be the last week hear from these guys, because they are already working on another release.  In an official statement this week from Metal Blade records, “Legendary heavy metal outfit ARMORED SAINT have renewed their long running partnership with Metal Blade Records with a worldwide multi-album deal. Metal Blade released ARMORED SAINT’s 1983 eponymous debut EP and the band has called Metal Blade home since 1988’s Saints Will Conquer live album.”

While the Queensryche’s last tour hit heavy on their sixteenth studio album, Digital Noise Alliance, they had pulled out a few rarities on that tour.  Making a big transition from the focus of that latest album which was released in October 2022 via Century Media, they have decided to dig even deeper and resurrect their first two releases in their entirety!

That’s right, on this tour, Queensryche is taking a look back at the group’s first releases, the 1983 EP and 1984’s The Warning album, with the promise of performing both classic releases in running order.

While Queensryche could be found along with supporting act Armored Saint in early March on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, “The Origins Tour” officially kicked off in Houston, Texas at Hell’s Heroes festival. And, it is officially slated to run through the end of May with additional tour dates popping up for the band into the summer and fall.

The band line-up has the remained the same since Mike Stone’s return in 2021.  They are fronted by singer Todd La Torre, who is joined by guitarists Michael Wilton and Mike Stone, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Casey Grillo.

Unlike Armored Saint, Queensryche’s set didn’t have much in the way of surprises, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t deliver. Running slightly behind schedule we were warned of the band’s entrance as strobe lights flashed to the beat of Pantera’s “Walk” and illuminated the vast drum kit with the band’s signature logo. That prelude only added fuel to an already excited audience. And soon, Queensryche was taking the stage in a sea of fog and purple and yellow lights in dedication to the band’s self-titled EP and the first album The Warning.

Those who caught the band here around this time last year will recall that they slid in some deep cuts from the catalog like “Child of Fire,” perhaps in prelude for this special tour, but as promised, they didn’t stop there. Naturally, the night began at the beginning with “Queen of the Rich,” but we also got to hear “Nightrider” and “Blinded” before the delivery of the EP concluded with one of our favorites “The Lady Wore Black.”

Moments later, the stage was transitioning from the crest of the band to the card deck from The Warning album as the band played on with the album’s title track.  Again there are cuts from this album that we are all familiar with like “Take Hold of The Flame,” which have regularly made it into their live performances, but hearing the songs live in the same order that you’d hear on disc, really felt special. Perhaps even more special to someone like me who became a fan in the era of Empire fame, and soon became so absorbed with Operation:Mindcrime that I never dissected this album in the same way.  For those newer fans like myself that are too young to remember when Queensryche first emerged, I encourage you to dig in live and watch the story unfold on stage.

No word on whether or not the band’s festival performance at M3 Rock Festival next Saturday will cover the same set or cover all the bases like they did on the Monsters of Rock Cruise last month, but we are sure that whatever they decide it will be just as well delivered as last night’s performance.

Tour Dates:
Fri, APR 26, The Origins Tour, Albany, NY
Sat, APR 27, The Origins Tour, Worcester, MA
Sun, APR 28, The Origins Tour, New Haven, CT
Tue, APR 30, The Origins Tour, Sayreville, NJ
Wed, MAY 1, The Origins Tour, Glenside, PA
Fri, MAY 3, The Origins Tour, Huntington, NY
May. 4 – 5, 2024, M3 Rock Festival 2024, Columbia, MD
Sun, MAY 5, The Origins Tour, Charlotte, NC
Tue, MAY 7, The Origins Tour, Atlanta, GA
Thu, MAY 9, The Origins Tour, St Petersburg, FL
Fri, MAY 10, The Origins Tour, Orlando, FL
Sat, MAY 11, The Origins Tour, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sun, MAY 12, The Origins Tour, Fort Myers, FL
Sat, MAY 18, Northern Lights Casino, Walker, MN
Sat, MAY 25, Buffalo Thunder Resort Casino, Santa Fe, NM
Sat, JUN 22, Indian Head Casino, Warm Springs, OR
Sat, JUN 29, IP Casino Resort and Spa, Biloxi, MS
Sat, JUL 13, Woodhaven Uncle Sam Jam 2024, Woodhaven, MI
Sat-Sun, AUG. 3 – 4, 2024, “Stadium Rock 80’s” @ Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, KY
Sun, SEP 8, Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, Reno, NV
Fri, SEP 20, The Mill (Summer Concert Series), Terre Haute, IN

About Us:

We are an independent, non-profit publication…in other words, this is a labor of love.  If you enjoyed our photos and reviews, or if you want to share some love in appreciation of a photo we captured.  You can help support our publication with tips through PayPalYou’ll find us under kara@tprs.com. If you are interested in licensing photos for your own personal or commercial use, contact us via email or social channels to discuss.  Thank you for your support!

You can also show your support by following us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram (or simply follow us everywhere here!).

Watch for continued coverage of local shows and regional shows with Faster Pussycat, Judas Priest and Sabaton, URIAH HEEP and Saxon, Aldo Nova, and more. And, in May, of course, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore with more Queensryche coverage!

Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen posted on 4/25/2024.  All event photos by photographer Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop.