Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 1/21/22, Geoff Tate performed not just one, but two classic Queensryche albums in their entirety at The Vogue Theatre in Broad Ripple, Indianapolis. Rage For Order was presented first, followed by an intermission, and Empire closed out the second half.
Having never seen Queensryche during Tate’s tenure with the Seattle-based progressive metal stars, this was a really cool way to experience a bit of how impressive that band was during their most successful years.
I have been attending shows at The Vogue for several decades and I thoroughly enjoy the intimate scope of the place; it’s like music practically oozes out of the walls. When you get lucky enough to secure a spot down in front of the stage, you can really feel the emotions of the singers and musicians. This was one of those times, and it was fascinating to see how much of himself Geoff Tate has invested in this music.
He didn’t talk about his former band but chose to speak a bit about the songs and basically let his expressions and hand gestures speak for themselves. He did tell a humorous story about being recognized while in a grocery store and how the person was attempting to explain how much one of the songs on Empire had impacted his life (and how badly the man mis-named the song). The song turned out to be Silent Lucidity, and the contrast between the funny lead in and the haunting beauty and delicacy of the song was something that might not have worked in an arena, but in The Vogue’s small confines it was wonderfully executed.
Tate’s band was comprised of a talented crew of young guys primarily from Ireland. While they lacked Queensryche’s complexity, they did an admirable job of performing the material and were quite good with their backing vocals. The band had good stage presence and looked the part of a young, hungry rock ‘n roll band. Tate hit the stage with the confidence of the legendary front man that he is, sporting a cool black hat and jacket, and of course some cool shades, too. He took off the hat several songs into Rage For Order, displaying a pretty righteous looking bald head, which is not always an easy look for a rocker. No-one was there to see what the man was wearing…we all wanted to hear That Voice…and what a voice it still is. Tate has one of those unmistakable sets of vocal chords, the kind where the listener knows who is singing as soon as he opens his mouth.
Geoff Tate is 63 years old and retains nearly his entire vocal range, and savvy enough to know when to back off some of the high notes and let the young guns cover for him. He didn’t back off very many, though. The soundman had him running hot in the mix, and his clarity and tone were surgically precise.
On top of all the great vocals, the man even brought out a baritone saxophone for The Thin Line…and played it! I found it pretty interesting how much growth Queensryche achieved in a brief period of time. Rage For Order came out in 1986 and Empire just four years later in 1990. Although there was a relatively brief span of years between the two (the groundbreaking Operation: Mindcrime came out in between them) the production and scope of Empire was light years beyond the earlier album. Performing these cornerstones of Queensryche’s career in chronological order was the perfect way to contrast that growth, and it worked so well on the stage.
The trend of bands playing entire albums for anniversary tours has been going on for quite some time, but I haven’t seen too many attempting to perform a pair of their best in one show, so Geoff Tate gets major props for doing such an amazing job of it on this tour. There was supposed to be a band called Ivory Lake opening the show, but according to the band’s singer (Josh Watts), he was the only one who showed up. Watts played us a selection of the band’s songs on acoustic guitar and was quite good. His between songs chatter was cheerful and self-deprecating, and apparently he played drums in Tate’s band awhile back. I would be interested to see his entire group sometime, so hopefully they can all arrive to a gig together in the future.