Geoff Tate - "Empire" 30th Anniversary Tour Performing "Empire" and "Rage For Order" In Their Entirety
It is interesting to consider that music is growing with you, and if you have been following a music scene for more than a decade, then it is certain that you have connected songs or even entire albums to specific memories and time periods. Just think about the memories that surface up the moment you start hearing that song or that album. Now, consider the painful truth that bands split-up and musicians eventually retire, leaving all those favorite and special songs to live only through vinyl records, CDs or even mp3s if you get the desire to re-visit them. Fortunately, there is another option in this rather limited-list of choices; musicians who decide to pay homage or celebrate an album by performing the entire thing live. Sure, you can say ‘oh, this is only for getting some extra bucks without trying much’ and in some cases you may be right, but wouldn’t you love to revisit an album through the performance of an artist who was actually deeply involved in the making of it? And when “Empire” is the main subject with the “Rage For Order” being the cherry on this cake’s top having Geoff Tate as the chef, then everything else can go out of the window, right?
You should be agreeing with me if you have seen Geoff live at least once in your life because then you know damn well what a great performer he is. Add to this, the state of his voice and you have the perfect storm for a Saturday night out. Arcada Theatre looked packed the moment we stepped in, while ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART were already onstage. This band is fronted by Emily Tate, and in case you haven’t put two and two together yet, then know that she is Geoff’s daughter. First of all, I have to say how much she looks like her dad and how much confidence she has on stage. Even though the music of ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART is not exactly my cup of tea, being rather too modern for my old-school taste, I have to admit that Emily did prove to be a performer who knows exactly how to behave on the stage with the right attitude to support the band’s alternative Rock, and I have to say that the 10-song set went down really good with “My Friends Are On Fire” and “Ink” being the highlights. The former will be on ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART upcoming album that does not have a release date because as Emily said they have not finished it yet.
It took just 15 minutes to prep the stage for Geoff and his band that included the ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART lineup (they are pulling a three-hour duty for this tour). As I said, the theatre was packed (I believe it was sold-out or at least extremely close to become such), so moving around to get good pictures was a real challenge. After all, I don’t like messing with people’s viewing angle by standing in front of them for too long (there was no photo-pit). The trademark intro hit the PAs seconds after the light were off marking the time for the “Rage For Order” suite. I cannot but recall reading a bunch of online comments some decade ago saying this and that about Geoff and how he has ‘abandoned’ his Metal history going all the way to the extremes by adding that ‘he cannot sing the old stuff’... Ha, the joke is on them because “Walk In The Shadows” hit all the right spots and waking some cool teenage memories on the way. It was clear that the band was feeding off the audience’s energy who looked and – most importantly – sounded pumped for this setlist high on QUEENSRŸCHE-steroids. Both the song and Geoff’s voice have aged like fine wine, and ignoring the danger of sounding sacrilegious, I would say that I like more his nowadays lower register singing. I mean, back in the day I had trouble getting used to the high-pitched singing and even today I do not do well with such vocals. Ok, the fedora hat and suit with jacquard flowers are not what one would call ‘Metal’, and I can only think of Geoff able to get away with this. “What a night have we planned for you tonight! We are gonna play the entire “Rage For Order” for you. That is not enough you said? We are gonna play the entire “Empire” for you too - let’s start things rolling, shall we?” said Geoff in his “I can talk all night from the stage” attitude before the amazing “I Dream In Infrared”. Seriously now, Geoff could easily pull off a show during which he could say stories between songs and be equally entertaining. He has what it takes and when he is in his natural habitat (a big venue packed with fans), he is a star.
The only downside with performing an entire album is that there are no surprises in the set and, in fact, you know what is coming next. On the flip-side, it is the perfect reminder of how it felt when you were listening to the album, no matter if it was a good or a bad time for you. After all, music is a companion that will never betray you and will always be there to celebrate the good and be comforted during the bad. Come to think of it, the latter tends to stay longer with you but with a positive twist because you have overcome whatever was bugging you. Again, isn’t music an amazing thing? There was a lot of room to cover, so most of the songs were delivered back-to-back maintaining or even building upon the momentum that had already been gathered. “When people ask me why I chose to play the entire “Rage For Order” I say that this had been a dream of mine”, said Geoff before adding that every song is special to him. This is another amazing thing in such events; getting to hear songs that most probably had minimum or even zero air-time when they were originally released some decades ago. Oh yeah, “Surgical Strike” and the climaxing “Neue Regel” took by the hand and guided us to a time when getting your music fix was not at all easy as compared to clicking on a link and having at it. Maybe this is why people used to appreciate music that much and why more effort and energy were put for the making of it. Scott Moughton / Kieran Robertson duo proved to be a well-oiled guitar machine exchanging riffs as if they have been on the same lineup for years, while bassist Jack Ross and drummer Edu Cominato were pounding the rhythm section.
“Screaming In Digital” with some minimal laser effects and the rather emotional “I Will Remember” closed the “Rage For Order” part of the set; “We will take a 15-min break” said Geoff giving us the chance for some beer refills and getting ready for the second course of the night. After the appropriate change of onstage banners, it was time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the most successful QUEESRŸCHE album on this side of the Atlantic. It is quite a shock to realize what QUEESRŸCHE were talking about all the way back to the ‘90s still apply to nowadays, proving once more that humanity does not learn from its mistakes. Geoff also commented on this underlining that 30 years later we are still talking about homeless, climate change and the war out on the streets… On the positive side of things, “Empire” and “Best I Can” got a loud sing-along pouring fresh fuel on the already going-strong performance. I loved watching Geoff putting the finishing touch with his saxophone during my favorite “The Thin Line” and kind of made me wish for getting “Promised Land” performed in its entirety - wouldn’t that be awesome? Speaking of dealing with the same problems, how awful is it talking about climate issues after all these years and having “Resistance” being more relevant than ever?
As I said, Geoff has a great way of telling stories, and even though you may have heard some of them in the past, it is still a delight hearing how he colorizes the situations he had been in. “Silent Lucidity” is an usual excuse to talk a bit and this time it was a story I had not heard before; after Geoff saying how great he feels when people share their stories with him regarding specific songs, he described his experience when using the elevator in the Frankfurt airport going up from… hell. Anyways, the punch line had to do with some German fans singing the lyrics of this song in German the moment they saw him. I know, it does not sound funny when I describe it but if you had Geoff narrating this, you would definitely crack a smile at least.
I had almost forgotten how much I like “Anybody Listening?” and therefore it felt great to be reminded in a concert. Oh yeah, and the loud singing-along helped a lot even though it was getting rather late. This one saw the band saying “goodnight” but I did not see anyone leaving his / her seat because there was one must-play live song left. By popular demand (there was a lot of cheering and clapping demanding for the band to return onstage), the band appeared soon enough and before moving on, Geoff introduced his international lineup and then asked if anyone knew French…Well, this was his way to introduce the playful “Last Time In Paris” that was just before another highlight being “Eyes Of A Stranger”. Damn, the loud singing-along really put the icing on this hearty ‘blast from the past’ cake that saw only smiling faces leaving the theatre, after a two-hour and a half set.
This was a great show, and to be honest, I can definitely see an encore happening relatively soon, because people clearly loved it. Until next time then.
Geoff Tate setlist:
01. “Walk In The Shadows”
02. “I Dream In Infrared”
03. “The Whisper”
04. “Gonna Get Close To You”
05. “The Killing Words”
06. “Surgical Strike”
07. “Neue Regel”
08. “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)”
10. “Screaming In Digital”
11. “I Will Remember”
13. “Best I Can”
14. “The Thin Line”
15. “Jet City Woman”
16. “Della Brown”
17. “Another Rainy Night (Without You)”
20. “Silent Lucidity”
21. “Hand On Heart”
22. “One And Only”
23. “Anybody Listening?”
24. “Last Time In Paris”
25. “Eyes Of A Stranger”
(click to enlarge)