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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Geoff Tate's Operation Mindcrime (Review By Nick)

Geoff Tate: Operation Mindcrime 30th Anniversary Tour, Muni Arts Centre Pontypridd

Thirty years ago one of the best progressive rock/metal bands of our time, Queensryche, produced what has since hailed to be one of the greatest concept albums of its decade; Operation: Mindcrime. Unfortunately due to the now well known collapse of the original band the album could not be celebrated the way it truly deserved, however this was not going to stop original lead singer and co writer of the masterpiece Geoff Tate give it a damn good go. Setting out of a solo world tour treating the flocking crowds to a complete live play through of the album with a few other hits thrown in for good measure.... if Geoff's voice was still up to par, this had one hell of a night written all over it.

For those who are unfamiliar with the album a brief explanation of the concept behind the album is: Recovering heroin addict is taken in by an evil Dr (Not Dr Evil). Dr X proceeds to control said addict by controlling his access to the drug he craves so much and brainwashes him to carry out his devious political deeds and assassinations as part of his revolutionary group. Meanwhile, the addict falls for a nun who is part of the group and starts to realise again what he has been made to do and the hold the drugs have over him, so sets about fighting back, sadly losing his new found love to the Dr in the process... freaky yet emotional right?!  Arriving fairly early we picked up our tickets and headed to the pub for a pint and a bit of food as the supports didn't really interest us too much, having seen one of them before and the other being Tate's daughters band. After all, tonight is all about one of the greatest voices in music and the masterpiece of an album we came to celebrate.

Entering the Muni Arts Centre, a converted church we found a rammed sold out venue of all ages predominantly supporting Queensryche merch, all waiting for the main event to start. We discovered a good spot towards the back by the sound man, stood back and watched as Geoff Tate's very young band entered the stage, soon followed by the man himself to rapturous applause. Looking fly as ever Tate was supporting his now signature trilby hat with waistcoat and tie... not bad for a 58 year old! Without delay the band cracked on with delivering Operation: Mindcrime in full. With a few technical issues to begin, however the band cracked on, once Geoff's mic and the lead guitar were fixed the room was delighted to hear the Tate's voice had not lost a note over the years, and was able to hit every note in his typical passionate style. Pulling and contorting his face every which way to hit the notes and express the true nature of the lyrics. Revolution Calling was the first real test to which he passed with flying colours, this was Geoff Tate of old and the crowd were loving it. Singing along and breaking out our air guitars at times I watched on really thinking Tate could have easily sat down and the entire crowd would have happily serenaded the entire album ourselves to Tate and his band. 

When given the opportunity by Tate to join in the crowd would happily oblige and lift of the roof singing. Ploughing into Speak, Spreading The Disease and The Mission there was a brief pause as Tate spoke to the crowd highlighting the importance of the album in music and why it needed to be celebrated, while at the same time thanking his ever faithful fans. Next the centrepiece of the album and eleven minute epic Suite Sister Mary was delivered with great emotion and ease by Tate and the band. Although young the band showed they were more than capable of reproducing such a great album in a way it deserved, breaking out seamless solos, deep riffs and thumping drums when needed to highlight the current feeling of the album. The band did themselves and the album great justice throughout. Moving on soon came another anthem from the album; I don't believe in love to which you could hear the crowd sing above 

Tate and his band, looking at Tate during this track you could see the fun he was having still, despite the countless number of times he has no doubt performed these songs. Following the two brief interludes built into the album it was time for the climax of the album and one of my all time favourite Queensryche songs; Eyes Of A Stranger. This would surely be the ultimate test of Tate's voice with the songs signature pitch changes and high crescendo as it ends, although the song had definitely been dropped an octave it was still nailed by Tate who easily transferred from high to low with little effort and didn't drop a note. The crowd again lapping up the performance while singing at the top of their voices it all soon came to an end too soon. Leaving the stage to applause and cheers the crowd demanded more and we were not let down.

Returning to the stage the band and Tate once again expressed their gratitude, with a surprise birthday cake to celebrate Tate's birthday the crowd and band forced a round of happy birthday on him to which he kindly received with some shyness. After this we were treated to a mini three song encore of the mesmerising and heart wrenching Silent Lucidity, Empires and Jet City Woman; all of which were performed with the utmost professionalism and quality we had come to expect from the previous hour and thirty minutes.

When attending a gig like this I always do so with a certain amount of trepidation; will Tate's voice be any good? If so will he be able to do this album justice still? Will the night be a bust? Well the answer to those questions in my head were two resounding yes's and a firm no! Geoff Tate's voice has barely lost a note through the years and is still as silky smooth as ever, as a result we were able to relive Operation: Mindcrime in all its glory once more, in a cracking atmosphere and venue thirty years after it was conceived. To that I say thank you Geoff!... and come back soon! 10/10

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