If you are going to call your tour “Big Rock Show Hits”, you better deliver the goods. At his recent show in Hartford, CT, former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate did just that. Guiding his international band through a set made up of hits from his entire tenure with Queensryche, Tate kept the crowd on its feet and lived up to the “Big Rock Show Hits” advertisement.
The night began with Irish singer/songwriter Mark Daly & The Ravens. From the moment Daly hit the stage he owned it. Confidently addressing the crowd between songs and bringing a hard rock sound with a little punk feel added. Most of The Ravens would later return as Tate’s backing band. If Daly is on the bill when the tour hits your town, be sure to get there in time to check him out, it won’t be long before he is headlining his own shows.
Tate wasted no time living up to the tour’s name as he took the stage and launched into the title track from 1990’s Empire. The capacity crowd exploded and flooded the front of the theater. Tate sounded amazing and his band, bassist Jack Ross, guitarists James Brown and Dario Parente, keyboardist Bruno Sa, and drummer Daniel Laverde was up to the task of bringing these classic songs to life. While the song arrangements were faithful to the originals, the band didn’t necessarily try to sound like classic Queensryche. They brought their own style and flare to the songs and sounded great.
The setlist touched on 10 of the 12 Tate-era Queensryche records (plus the eponymous EP), with only Hear In The Now Frontier and American Soldier not represented. It was interesting to hear songs from the later years, such as “Wot We Do” from Dedicated To Chaos, “Sacred Ground” and “Right Side of My Mind” from Q2K, “Desert Dance” from Tribe, and “One Foot In Hell” from Operation: Mindcrime II. Those later albums were not great Queensryche records when compared to the classic run, but when played by Tate’s band, without the weight of the Queensryche name, the songs take on a new life, and this fresh take by a new band shows the strength of the songs.
As interesting as those deep cuts were, the audience was there for the hits, and they came in spades. Tate led his band through a series of mini-album sets; a run of 3 Operation: Mindcrime classics in the middle of the set, back-to-back Rage For Order hits shortly after, and 3 legendary Empire tracks to end the main set. The well-paced 20-song set was designed to rock both the casual radio/MTV fan and the die-hards in the crowd.
After ending the main set with Queensryche’s biggest hit, “Silent Lucidity”, it was encore time. First up was his take on Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine” (also found on Queensryche’s Take Cover record) and the one-two punch of early classics “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Queen of the Ryche”. The audience was on its feet the entire night and loved every note.
Tate may not be able to hit the high notes as he once did, age does catch up to us all, but he still sings and sounds better than most (if not all) of his contemporaries. I love that each time I’ve seen him solo he has a different band, usually made up of stellar international musicians, that add new, fresh spins on the songs I grew up loving. The format of a revolving collective of musicians rather than a set band perfectly suits Geoff Tate’s vision. When playing live, he continues to walk that (thin) line between evolving while staying true to the classics. Every tour is a unique sound and experience and leaves you looking forward to the next time.