After 40 years of performing Geoff Tate took the stage for the first time within a church which must have set his mind back to the time he went wondering and through the mist saw church lights shining and right there the album Operation Mindcrime was born.
The venue is one of my favourite in Glasgow(Apart from not having a photo pit), the sound is always perfect and tonight Geoff and the boys just sounded incredible. The mans resurgence also showed as the venue was packed tonight and possibly his biggest crowd in this city for many a year.
To be fair I had no expectations tonight, that happens when you managed to see last years 30th anniversary of the Mindcrime album in full twice. If I was honest I was in no way expecting those shows to be topped but how wrong was I?
The reason for the difference between the shows was down to the set list and the shocks held within. This tour is touted as the greatest hits but the band opened with “Neue Regal” and “Screaming in Digital” and the old heads in the crowd just went crazy from the off. Local boy Kieran Robertson took it in his stride like the true rock star he now is, he completely owned these two songs and the smile on his face said just what it meant to him.
After we had settled down from the shock and sheer orgasmic opening we get hit with four body blows from the best concept album ever written. The title track was followed by “Speak”, “Spreading the Disease” and “The Mission”. I could have walked out and been happy right then. I will go on to Geoff in a minute but we need to speak about the rest of the band. Only three are present from those last shows I saw, Geoff and the Glasgow deadly duo. Yes, we had three new guys tonight and I cannot give enough praise for them.
First up and a real treat for us in Scotland(as we do not get to see him that often…yes this is a begging comment) in Felix Bohnke. The Avantasia and Edguy drummer was sat behind Gin Annies very meagre drum kit and with just four drums that man made the whole of Glasgow shake…he is a beast. With only 1 gig under their belts doing this tour Walter Cianciusi and Dario Parente were unstoppable and just sublime together. The three guitarists worked so well and produced a completely metal wall of sound.
Back to another oldie in “Take Hold of the Flame” and it could have been at this point that my voice completely failed. One I should not try to reach those high notes( I am sure I felt something twang) and I was so forcibly screaming take hold I was hoarse at the end. Geoff also played with the crowd as we tried to take over vocal duties but he prolonged the ending just to show us who is boss(as if we did not know).
I have followed Geoff since the 80s and was there for their first visit to the UK as support to Dio and I can 100% confirm he is way better now than he was back in those misty days of dungeons and dragons. I have watched all the tours since those days and as much as that original line up was magical it is nowadays I am filled with excitement when I know his show is coming around and I know I will always get 100% from Geoff and the band. I have dragged people kicking and screaming to the shows, people who have not witnessed him for a long time and each time the people are amazed.
We go back into the back catalogue once again and we are thrown gem after gem, “Before the Storm”, “I dream in Infrared”, “Walk in the Shadows” but it the very first Queensryche song that gets the biggest cheer. “The Lady Wore Black” is sung back at Geoff as if this Glasgow’s life(or drink) depended on it.
The main set is finished on my all time favourite in “I don’t Believe in Love”, a song that means so much to me, sits dead centre in my heart and luckily I have managed to let Geoff know how important that song and he himself has been on this journey of mine through life. This song is perfection…I do not care what anyone says.
When Geoff comes back for the encore he has a little laugh with us asking if an encore is a given and how he always worries that one day there will be know chanting but there was no way Glasgow was going to let him go(it is not worth his life walking away in this city).
The encore is kicked off with a song that has resonated with millions. I know one person here tonight who has a very touching story around this song, just like so many others but at this point in the night I have to go and lay a hand on his shoulder just to let him know that “we get it”. This song is almost always in the set but it never loses its impact or its soul. This song goes much deeper than just vocals and chords…there are memories drifting across an old church tonight and you can feel every raised heart beat and every teardrop trying to be held back.
After the emotions it is back into the swing as we finish on “Jet City Woman” and a blistering version of “Eyes of a Stranger”. Tonight left me breathless so I have no idea how Geoff does it, I do not know what his secret is but it bloody works. His voice is still amazing, his stage presence is a lessen for any young band and he looks too damned good for his age…OK, he did have some dodgy hairdoos, some seriously questionable stage clothes but he just oozes cool these days(don’t you just hate that…he is 60 dammit).
Whatever his magical elixir is keep taking it(is it twenty quid whiskies?) and keep coming back. If you have never seen Geoff live go, if you have not seen him for many years, go. If you have seen him recently, go again and keep going as this is a master at work. I honestly feel that a little bit of rock fairy dust fell out of one of Dio’s robes on that first tour and Geoff has kept it safe to this day so do not piss of Dio’s ghost…get to a show.
Images and words Ritchie Birnie