It was just over a year since the metal icon that is Geoff Tate came to town with the 30th Anniversary of Operation: Mindcrime and now he was back in the Belfast Empire. This time with a limited run on a “Best Of” set. So tonight was going to be something special. Tonight he would be aided and abetted by acclaimed hard rock singer/songwriter Mark Daly.
Mark strolled onto stage like he was coming home and took the mic as he comfortably held his acoustic guitar. The crowd were appreciatively welcoming as some had heard him before, after his stint with Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime. And straight off the bat anyone who had not heard him before pricked up their ears without a second thought as he delivered “Peace of Mind”, “My Flame” and “Rise Again”. His vocals reverberated around the Hall with strength and emotion that was captivating. Ably supported with his backing band he continued to cement his place as a solo artist with “Bad Soul”, “Addicted to the Throne” and “Without You”.
Each one, having a light bluesy feel, showed off what a voice he had and showing his talent as a songwriter to produce lyrical songs laden with an emotional tenseness. He had a real Chris Cornell vibe with a hint of Kings of Leon throughout. The Kings feeling especially present with his penultimate song “Wasted Days”. He finished off the set with “Don’t look back”, a song that really laid down the rockier feeling.
It felt each song could have been given a hard rock score to it, or equally he could have just done a pure acoustic set – a sign of excellent penmanship and incredible vocal delivery. His set, taken from his debut album “When The Stars Align”, are a sign indeed he is a rising star in his own right.
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After a short interval, the room now packed to the rafters, the one, the only Geoff Tate sauntered easily onto stage to a roar of approval to “Neue Regel” then “Screaming in Digital”, and “Operation: Mindcrime”.
As with the last time, you could see that almost everyone there were dedicated and diehard fans of Mr Tate. The roar of appreciation as the audience sang along, gyrated, headbanged and generally swayed confirmed Geoff was among firm fans, friends and family.
On he went, with a new line up in his band, with “Speak”, “Spreading the Disease”, and “The Mission”. Each song seemed to be dedicated to those present and his interaction with the crowd right around the Hall was as if he knew each one personally. This was a man totally at ease with performing and enjoying every moment of it.
Next up was “Take Hold of the Flame”, “Before the Storm”, and “I Dream in Infrared”, each one delivered, as every song has been, with heart, soul, and determination. His vocals filling the Hall with pure strength. He is a one man Tour de Force.
On he went, to the adulation of the crowd pushing forward to the stage to receive a smile, a wink or even the odd fist bump (Eh, Thomas?), with “The Lady Wore Black”, “Walk in the Shadows”, and “Breaking the Silence”. Every single song confirming his showmanship and highlighting how tight a band this was altogether. Every member in the band tonight were perfectly balanced with musical craftsmanship, confidence and enjoyment. This was not ‘just another gig’ to them, they played with such energy it felt like it was their first night on the tour.
The main set was rounded off with the classic “I Don’t Believe in Love” and the place shook with the crowd’s vocal cavalcade as they, without much encouragement needed, sang the chorus with incredible gusto.
The inevitable encore came and after introducing the band to the audience introduced the next song with utter perfectness as he described it as a song that “People got married to, people got buried to, people got born to, and even conceived to”. Yup, the roar was almost deafening as people actually hugged and jumped with glee as the first refrains of “Silent Lucidity” rang out. Not content with that as the applause died down just a little he dropped in “Eyes of a Stranger” before “Anarchy-X” rounded it all off.
It was great to see so many turn out early to see Mark Daly deliver his support for Geoff, and honestly is a reflection on the fanbase to be so courteous – and they were well rewarded for it too. Mark was a consummate performer.
As to Geoff Tate, It is without any over exaggeration to say that each and every song of the Queensryche back-catalogue was received with utter joy like mana from heaven. These are no ordinary fans, these are Geoff Tate fans. That in turn created a dynamic of a relaxed but focussed band performance, almost as if they felt the pressure to deliver to the expectations of the fans there that night. And boy did they deliver. What made it even more special was the fact that this “Best Of” tour was a short one with only a couple done before the Belfast Empire and only a couple more to do in Italy. Belfast was blessed to be part of Geoff’s tour.
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Geoff is now taking a short break before he joins Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia for their upcoming tour.
Review by Ivor Whitten, Happy Metal Geek
Photos by Darren McVeigh, Metal Planet Music