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Saturday 2 March 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Geoff Tate (Live Review By Nick)

Geoff Tate, Belfast Empire Hall

As many know I am a massive fan of Queensryche both past and present, even more so the voice of
original vocalist Geoff Tate (10). Having seen Tate many times on his solo tours I have always been impressed as to the longevity of the man's voice, still able to hit the entirety of the vocal spectrum with little effort. Despite being greatly disappointed with my experience in Pontypridd a few months back (the fault of the numpty stubborn sound tech only), when I found out that Tate was in Belfast while I was paying the city a visit I jumped at the opportunity to see one of my all time favourites again.

Arriving in the Belfast Empire Hall well timed to miss Mark Daly who completely perplexed me last time I saw him as support in Ponty, I headed to the bar, picked up an obligatory pint of Guinness then headed to a lovely spot in the beautiful Empire Hall. Maintained perfectly with a fair amount of its original decoration, a small upper circle towards the back of the venue, a lovely well stocked bar, tables and chairs arranged on the floor in front of a relatively small stage, this perfect intimate venue had already won me over with its charm and character.

Entering the stage with yet another completely different band, he proceeded to offer up an eclectic set stretching into the entirety of Queensryche's history including Rage For Order, Operation:Mindcrime, Empire and Condition Human. Wasting no time Tate smashed straight into the testing track Screaming In Digital which was welcomed with great enthusiasm from the packed out Empire Hall immediately followed by trio of tracks from the seminal album Operation:Mindcrime; the self titled track, Spreading The Disease and Speak. During these tracks the crowd joined in with joy, singing along together while some near the front rocked out in style, both to the delight of Tate. 

From these opening tracks I had a sense that something was different here, Tate although always impressive seemed a lot more engaged and passionate tonight and it had really pulled me and the adoring fans in more than ever. During, the following back and fore it turned out that Tate had visited the Empire four years straight and has roots in the City... this explained the added energy from him tonight. Moving swiftly on and not wanting to waste any more time we were next treated to a beautiful rendition of Take Hold Of The Flame, which included a rousing call and response and highlighted more than ever the quality of Tate's voice... although some effort is required at times, 

Tate's voice is still smooth and pitch perfect with perfect consistency, very little separates it now from back in the 80's. Almost as if to prove this, stunning versions of The Lady Wore Black, Walk In The Shadows and a personal favourite of mine I Dream In Infrared. All from the very beginning of Queensryche's reign and all delivered with brilliance and a new sense of passion from Geoff and a fitting way to end the main set. With the crowd wanting more, a barrage of whistles, clapping and shouts was eventually met by the return of Tate and his band to the stage to offer a moving rendition of anthems Silent Lucidity and then Eyes Of A Stranger

Having seen Tate live many times before, this particular set was something a little different, something special. Clearly his love of the city and its fans pushed Tate to go a little further. His interaction with the crowd easy and flowing, his vocals on top form and a few treats pulled from the depths of his back catalogue. With the added consummate support of a young and enthusiastic band once again complementing Tate's voice ideally. Combined with the idyllic venue this was an evening that he will struggle to match when I see him in the future... Annual visits to Belfast for me I is then!

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