Swansea on a beautiful sunny May evening is a great place to be. The historic Patti Pavilion is where I was heading to see the legendary Geoff Tate perform not just Queensryche’s 1986 album Rage For Order in its entirety, but also their most successful album, 1990s Empire. Much has been said over recent years regarding the seemingly never-ending drama regarding Queensryche and ex-members. It does seem, however, that Tate has settled into his stride with his current band and is more than happy to be a legacy act. The number of punters wandering around wearing Queensryche T-shirts gives you a good idea of the demographic here tonight.
Before we get to the main event, we had a short but impressive set from openers Mark Daly & the Ravens. Mixing up a blend of southern rock with some Alice In Chains tinged tunes, Daly puts in an energetic performance. The sparse but appreciative audience thoroughly enjoys what they see and hear. Definitely, someone to keep an eye on.
By the time we are presented with Tate’s entrance, the room fills up considerably and there is an air of anticipation. I’ve been checking out some YouTube videos of recent performances and it seemed like Tate has been firing on all cylinders vocally. Taking to the stage with the classic ‘Walk In the Shadows’, when Tate strolls casually up to the microphone and nails that initial scream, everyone in attendance goes nuts. Snazzily dressed and looking the picture of health, Tate has the audience in the palm of his hand from the get-go. The band works their way through Rage For Order’s tracks and there is only a noticeable lull from the audience when lesser-known songs such as Neue Regel and London are being played. A fantastic rendition of ‘I Will Remember’ closes the first act with style.
After an extended break, the band returns to the stage while the intro to ‘Best I Can’ blasts through the PA. Rapturous applause from the crowd pushes the energy of the band and yet again, Tate is nailing it. For a man in his sixties to be singing this well is no mean feat. Tate gets his saxophone out for ‘The Thin Line’ and the band seems to be having the time of their lives. Scottish guitarist Kieran Robertson gets a great reaction from the crowd every time he sticks his tongue out and nails his parts with gusto. Crowd favourite ‘Jet City Woman’ goes down a storm as does ‘Another Rainy Night’ and ‘Empire’ in its full-blown glory. The sound mix tends to be a little muddy in places and drummer Daniel Laverde is obviously a very capable and talented drummer, but as a drummer myself I don’t like the fact that Daniel is using electronic drums. They just look naff, Queensryche’s original drummer Scott Rockenfield was renowned for the huge drum kits that he used, and it just doesn’t work visually for me in a hard rock/metal setting. Just my opinion of course.
‘Silent Lucidity’ sounds amazing as always. You forget how great that song is and looking around at the crowd singing every word is goosebump enticing. Tate is a master at keeping everyone in attendance entertained, even his anecdote about having to go grocery shopping for the first time in his life due to Covid canceling all his tour plans is very funny. After ‘Anybody Listening?’ the band leaves the stage to more rabid applause, shouts, and screams for more. They return for an encore of ‘Last Time in Paris’ and ‘Take Hold of the Flame’. The band has played for around two and a half hours, Tate is certainly giving his loyal fan base value for money. He is happy to press the flesh with the many fans who are front of stage trying to get a reaction from their hero. He seems genuinely over the moon to back out playing live.
The voice is well and truly alive and well. Go and see Geoff Tate if you get the chance, you won’t be disappointed, but you will be thoroughly entertained.
Author: Kenny Kendrick