Geoff Tate, Palace Theater, Stafford Springs, CT 2/19/20
Few bands have fostered as loyal and dedicated a fan base as Queensryche. When that band splintered in 2012, fans were left wondering what would happen to the music that means so much to so many people. Both sides moved forward with new players and created new music. Since completing his trilogy of records under the Operation: Mindcrime moniker with 2017's The New Reality, however, legendary vocalist Geoff Tate has spent time celebrating the milestones of his past and treating fans to a celebration of those seminal records.
While songs like "Walk In The Shadows" and "Screaming in Digital" have been regulars on the live stage since they were recorded, others, such as "I Will Remember", "London" and "The Killing Words" have only been played a relative handful of times since 1986. On stage Tate's performance still possesses all the theatricality that keeps your gaze affixed to him, each gesture emphasizing the lyrics, showing they clearly have the same effect of him after all these years as they do for the fans. Watching him control the stage does make you wish the show was taking place on a larger scale as, at times, he seems confined by the small performance area. Speaking of the performance area, the venue was perhaps the only downside to the night. It took place in a very old, very run down theater without any overhead lighting available and a very small stage. All stage lighting came from lights placed on the stage itself. A performance like this deserves a better venue and staging.
As the last notes of "I Will Remember" faded, Tate announced a 15-minute break before the second set. Normally I'm not a fan of intermissions but it made sense in this case. It gives fans not only a chance to process that they just heard Rage For Order end to end, but allowed a breath before launching into Empire.
Empire. A truly watershed record by any metric. It was Queensryche's most commercially successful record with their biggest single ("Silent Lucidity) but beyond just chart measures, there is an emotional connection between each of these eleven songs and every fan in the theater. Now, it has to be said that no combination of people, regardless of the name, can ever match the chemistry and sound of Tate, DeGarmo, Wilton, Jackson & Rockenfield. However, Tate's band, led by longtime guitarist Scott Moughton and featuring Kieran Robertson on guitar, Jack Ross on bass and new addition Edu Cominato of the band SOTO on drums, comes as close as possible to recreating the sound and feel of the original recording. Unlike Rage, Empire is a more organic recording with greater reliance on the twin guitars of Moughton and Robertson then on samples. The result is a fuller sound that perfectly suits the songs.
All the hits were present, "Empire", "Best I Can, "Another Rainy Night", "Jet City Woman", and "Silent Lucidity" but it can be argued that it's the deep cuts, like "Hand on Heart", "One and Only", "The Thin Line" and "Anybody Listening" that truly provide the heart and soul of Empire. Hearing them performed in sequence by the voice that created them was truly unforgettable. After 30 years, the strength of Tate's voice can still transport you to the very time in your life when these songs were everything, when every word felt like it was written for you. Perhaps it wasn't quite DeGarmo and Wilton playing in perfect sync during "Another Rainy Night" but as long as it was Tate pleading not to "slam the door on your way out, don't leave without saying goodbye", I'm all in.
Rage For Order
Walk in the Shadows
I Dream in Infrared
Gonna Get Close to You
The Killing Words
Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)
Screaming in Digital
I Will Remember
Best I Can
The Thin Line
Jet City Woman
Another Rainy Night (Without You)
Hand on Heart
One and Only
Last Time in Paris