Words & Pics: Adrian Hextall
Sometimes a show presents the opportunity to see one of the greats up close and personal and there’s no doubting that Geoff Tate, the former voice of Queensrÿche ticks all of the right boxes in that category. Celebrating a 30 year trek through Geoff’s career with an acoustic ‘night with..’ affair, the die hard crowd at the O2 Academy2 in London’s Islington were offered a huge range of songs, allowing acoustic guitars, a cello, a violin and a mandolin, along with a Cajon drum box to rework and re-imagine some classic Queensrÿche material.
The tightly packed stage mixes Irish outfit, The Band Anna, acting as Geoff’s band for the tour along with Scott Moughton who plays guitar with Geoff in Operation Mindcrime, the band formed by Tate after he left Queensrÿche.
They open with ‘Walk In The Shadows’ and ‘Another Rainy Night (Without You)’, taken from (arguably) two of the three classic Queensrÿche albums that the band released during the 1980s. It eases the crowd nicely into the format of the evening with the acoustic guitars of Moughton and Casey Jones being supplemented beautifully by Ryan Parsons’ violin and James McInerney’s cello. The depth the musicians give to the music is unbelievable given the intimate size of the venue but it’s nothing compared to the sound that Tate brings forth when he starts to sing.
If anyone was thinking or suggesting that Tate’s voice was struggling then within a few bars of ‘Walk in the Shadows’, every notion and myth is dispelled completely. Geoff is on fine form, seemingly unable to stop smiling and thoroughly enjoying himself from the off. The warmth and energy exuding from the stage is picked up by the crowd who have no hesitation in joining in on the opening tracks adding a ‘loose’ choral effect to the songs.
Billed as ‘a little bit of chat and a lot of music’, Tate took time to explain how songs came to be and how their origins helped shape them into what finally made it onto the album. Of particular note is the time he spoke of his childhood and how, with his Father being in the military, he spent a lot of time working to disciplined routines, a true military lifestyle. His memories and how his Father explained how life in the military worked helped Tate deliver the ‘American Soldier’ album with Queensrÿche. His story leads to a fantastic performance of ‘Hundred Mile Stare’ . The lyrics take on a whole new meaning, the album suddenly feels like it might be more accessible than it was previously. The same can be said for both ‘Some People Fly’ and ‘Chasing Blue Sky’ from ‘Hear in the Now Frontier’. It’s an album that suffered critically upon release, following immediately after ‘Promised Land’ yet listening again to these two tracks as Tate explains how he and Chris DeGarmo used to write together, they take on a new lease of life and will definitely encourage people to go back and check out the album to once more re-evaluate.
Coming after ‘Silent Lucidity’, Tate introduces it a song from “Operation Mindcime…….” to which the room erupts with drunken cheers until Geoff, with a smile and a sigh continues….. “the new Operation Mindcrime album ‘Resurrection’. The cheers are less at that point until he performs it and once more, as it finishes, the crowd show their appreciation. ‘The Fight’, sits perfectly in the set, sounding like the best of anything that Tate’s former band produced. If you’ve not heard anything from the new band, you should, you won’t be disappointed.
Closing the main set with two of the best tracks from ‘Operation Mindcrime’ (the album) the band depart to the sort of reception you’d expect from a packed electric show.
They return for ‘Around the World’ and then, with a smile and a wave they are gone.
No arena, no lighting rigs, stripped down, no electrics. How could this be one of the top 5 gigs of the year? Put simply, it just was. Fantastic.
Walk in the Shadows – Taken from Queensrÿche’s ‘Rage for Order’
Another Rainy Night (Without You) from ‘Empire’
Some People Fly – from ‘Hear in the Now Frontier’
Jet City Woman – from ‘Empire’
Chasing Blue Sky – from ‘Hear in the Now Frontier’
Bridge – from ‘Promised Land’
Until There Was You – from ‘Q2K’
Out of Mind – from ‘Promised Land’
Silent Lucidity – from ‘Empire’
The Fight – from Operation Mindcrime’s album ‘Resurrection’
Blood – from ‘Tribe’
Take Hold of the Flame – from ‘The Warning’
The Lady Wore Black – from ‘Queensrÿche EP’
Hundred Mile Stare – from ‘American Soldier’
I Don’t Believe in Love – from ‘Operation Mindcrime’
Eyes of a Stranger – from ‘Operation Mindcrime’
Around the World – from ‘Dedicated to Chaos’
Geoff Tate – Vocals
Scott Moughton (from Operation Mindcrime) – Guitar
(From The Band Anna)
Casey Jones – Guitar,
Steven Hamilton – Mandolin,
James McInerney – Cello/Guitar,
Ryan Parsons – Violin,
Nathan Daly – Percussion