Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
Geoff Tate returned to the UK with a new album and a look back at one of his finest moments as a musician. The band Operation: Mindcrime have just released ‘A New Reality’, the final part in a trilogy that potentially brings to a close another chapter in Geoff’s career. As he commences a tour across the UK, he’s taken the decision not to promote the new material, even though the tour reaches town just as the reviews are beginning to hit the websites. Instead, the focus is on the album that carries the name of the band that will perform it, possibly for the last time in recognition of its 30th Anniversary. Can it really be 30 years ago that we first heard about Nikki, a recovering drug addict and Dr X, the man who convinces Nikki to become an assassin.
Before we are treated to a show that would feature everything from ‘I Remember Now’ to ‘Eyes of a Stranger’, an interesting opening act featuring Tate’s daughter Emily and her band ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ took to the stage.
Till Death Do Us Part
The band are a dark alt rock outfit that have been described as Depeche Mode meets Bring Me The Horizon with the expressive vocal flare of haunting Kate Bush like vocals.
Founded in 2016, the new band present an interesting form of synthetic heavy rock. Emily’s dark and somber lyrics are paired with the deep musical compositions of her writing partner Kieran Robertson. With a couple more Scots added to the team, bassist, Jack Ross drummer, Lee Reston the band presented a show that entertained some and bemused others in equal measure. As is often the case, fickle rock fans (especially those that grew up listening to Mindcrime (the album) when it was first released, don’t like new music, especially the sort that pushes a few boundaries and tries to present something new. The band would have been foolish not to use the family connection with Operation: Mindcrime and take the opportunity to present their music to good sized crowds on the tour and credit to them for converting some of the masses to their sound. It’s not necessarily what we expected but it’s worth further investigation.
Queensryche first played “Operation: Mindcrime” in full during the band’s 1990 tour. With video footage that was used in the ‘Video Mindcrime’ VHS release playing in the background, the band added the talents of Pamela Moore playing the character Sister Mary, a role that she’d provided the vocals for on the studio track of the same name. Pamela returned when the band made Mindcrime II joining them on tours in support back to back performances of both albums.
A clip from the memorable tour when the band played the IndigO2 in Greenwich is below:
With Geoff Tate now having the sole right to perform both “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Operation: Mindcrime II” in their entirety live, the 30th Anniversary celebration of the original sees Emily, sporting a long blonde wig which hides her short bright pink hair, return to the stage during Suite Sister Mary to present her take on Pamela’s character.
Before that, the set opened with the ‘I Remember Now’ with Nikki’s voice drawing us immediately back into the world of Operation Mindcrime before the young band, most of whom had doubled up with ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ appearing on stage to tear into ‘Anachy X’.
The young band members were an interesting choice with Kieran Robertson easily holding his own against Geoff’s long time touring and OM colleague Scott Moughton. The pair of them easily pulled of the well known licks, riffs, solos and breaks that the excitable crowd know note for note. Once the initial pause \ consideration around ‘can they hack it?’ was removed with the great instrumental intro, Tate strode purposefully onto the stage and delivered a vocal performance that saw many mouths agape. How on earth could a man who first recorded this album 30 years ago still hit those notes and hit them so well?
Looking at Geoff’s career over the years, his fashion choices have been, shall we say, interesting. From the explosion of hair and sci-fi leanings of Rage for Order, the denim and strait jacket moments of Mindcrime to the mohawk and goatee he sported during the last Operation Mindcrime tour in the UK, Geoff Tate now looks pretty dapper. With a neatly groomed beard, hat, shirt, tie and waistcoat, Tate looks every inch the refined classic rock star. With a pair of sunglasses straight out of the John Lennon collection, he brings an air of class to the whole affair and makes the whole evening feel as serious and emotionally involved as the album lyrics dictate.
Suite Sister Mary which saw Emily return to the stage dressed equally as elegantly as her Father is delivered with a respectful nod to Pamela Moore’s approach and as the band continue to run through the tracks in chronological order, the audience get more and more pumped with I Don’t Believe In Love and Eyes of a Stranger being definite highlights.
Could it get any better? Well actually yes. Forsaking any of the new material from Operation Mindcrime in favour of classic Queensryche material, a four song encore culminating in Jet City Woman saw the room begin to leave in a dazed, happy state.
Then, all of a sudden Tate returned. Supported only by keyboards, an emotional and heartfelt rendition of Someone Else? finished the night. The song and the performance was enough for word to spread quickly and the half empty venue pretty much filled up again. With a wry smile and a genuine sense of ‘job done’, Tate dropped the microphone and walked off.
I Remember Now
Spreading the Disease
Suite Sister Mary (with Emily Tate)
The Needle Lies
Breaking the Silence
I Don’t Believe in Love
Waiting for 22
My Empty Room
Eyes of a Stranger
Best I Can
Jet City Woman