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Gig Review : Geoff Tate @ Limelight, Belfast

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Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

After catching Geoff in Glasgow recently in Glasgow doing Empire and Rage for Order in their entirety it was time to pop over the water to Belfast to catch the full play through of 1994s “Promised Land” and the slightly misunderstood album sounded fantastic live.

As with the Glasgow show support tonight was Mark Daly, local lad and in case you had not heard…owner of a number one Irish rock/metal song.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Glasgow show so was looking forward to tonight and with the venue filling up nicely they opened with “Peace of Mind” and the laid back start got everyone in the mood.

The heaviness is lifted with “Gotta Run” and it is obvious Mark and his band have got something going on here. There are some great songs and obviously some cracking talent as both bassist and guitarist will be onstage again with Geoff later.

The set was closed with “Crying Shame” which has just had a video shot so will be out soon and “Don’t Look Back” which is a killer of a song and a great way to leave the stage.

Now to the main event and why I travelled all those miles to get here. With “Promised Land being the fourth Queensryche album and the fourth album Geoff has played in its entirety I had to be here. I had an interview with Geoff before the show and it was obvious this album holds a lot of memories for him.

For me the album confused me when it came out as it was so different but I came to love it and I knew it was going to be a great live vehicle for Geoff’s voice. Tonight is also the first live show for Geoff since open heart surgery and any worries vanished instantly as soon as “I am I” started.

I know this one was a tough album for the band to tie down live but boy did they nail it. The guitar work on these songs is very different but both handled it superbly. I know Kieran had worked tirelessly on this and we got to see him on keyboards for the first time. He has obviously been that busy he didn’t have time to keep the mohawk in check and it looked like he may have forgotten his usual boots and had to borrow his dads best interview shoes.

Another part that was done to perfection was the backing vocals on the likes of “Out of Mind” and “Damaged”. As with everything Geoff does every last part is mapped out and no matter how intricate it is perfected.

“Bridge” was a highlight for me as I love this track. I had dug out my cut to shape single this week and fell in love with it all over again and live this was just beautiful. If it was possible I would have hit replay numerous times it was so stunning.

At the beginning of “Promised Land” Geoff spoke about our earlier interview and how he had spoken about how much this album meant to him and I am sure there was a little quiver in his voice. This was another song that struck me as it was so powerful. Geoff’s voice was sublime and it was the first song of the night to bring in the saxophone.

Seeing this hero of mine so close up, so powerful, so larger than life was very emotional. Having first seen this man on a stage 38 years ago supporting Dio and all the shows from then till now endears them to you. They become larger than life to you.

When you think back to pulling the vinyl copy of The warning from its sleeve and playing it and knowing this was something different entirely to being unable to speak after playing Operation Mindcrime, watching the band explode, to watching the band implode, the court cases and seeing the man emerge out the other side and be the amazing human being he is and still be able to perform with no drop off to this day.

Another highlight for me and I have to be honest a moment that brought a tear to my eye was “Lady Jane”. The band left the stage with just Geoff and Kieran at the back playing keyboards. I cannot imagine what this means to the young Glasgow guitarist.

He genuinely loved Queensryche from a young age. There are photos of him with band t-shirts as a very young child and here he is, just him and Geoff on stage and playing a very intimate song. This was a very special moment that will stay with me till I die.

To add to the emotion this album finishes with two stunning tracks in “Real World” and “Someone Else” and live these have to be seen to be believed. I do hope that this full playback gets a much wider audience than just Belfast and Dublin but if not it can never be taken from me.

Due to the album length it did not give a lot of time for the greatest hits encore but we had “Jet City Woman”, “Take Hold of the Flame” and the always emotional “Silent Lucidity”.

Tonight was another Geoff show, it was another one of many shows I have seen and it was completely individual and I felt very humbled and proud to be there.

Photography by MPM

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