Geoff Tate - 'Building Empires'
I surely didn’t know what to expect from these shows but with the acoustic shows from Kip Winger and Joe Lynn Turner fresh in mind, I was looking forward to this one with great anticipation. But it wasn’t only the musical experience that I was very curious about; how would Geoff Tate appear on an event like this? Could it be as cozy and intimate and fun as it was compared with the two I saw last year? Coming to High Voltage in Copenhagen seeing a cello and violin on stage sure rose my curiosity even further.
When it was show-time, a whole band took on the stage and kicked off “Walk In The Shadows”. It took a while to sort out all the impressions and separate the different instruments because aside from the violin and cello there were two guitars, a mandolin and percussion / drums on one of those rhythm-boxes as well. It all worked very well together but unfortunately, both the cello and mandolin were drowned by the rest of the instruments on stage. And Geoff Tate himself sure sounded fantastic. On both places, the crowd was on even if it was a little extra in Copenhagen. Come on, Friday night, a free shot on the ticket and happy-hour in the bar compared to a Wednesday the poorest month of the year... It was still very good in Gothenburg. Also the little cranked up volume at Sticky Fingers did the overall sound and separation between instruments good.
Geoff served a good piece of himself between the songs also, telling stories about the days in QUEENSRŸCHE. I guess I was colored by the talks and writings around the band before the break-up and I was quite surprised with his positive attitude towards it all, and his very genuine and charming self-telling these stories. I really liked the story about recording in Nashville and Geoff being star-struck when seeing Johnny Cash at the Pancake House in the city. Also, “Chasing Blue Sky” that followed really sounded fantastic. In this more mellow song, all the instruments really came to live together and Ryan Parsons on the violin did a fantastic job. He stood out throughout the show though, building melodies and on occasion copying guitar-solos on his instrument. His energy was fantastic and the way he treated his violin was crazy. And of course, James McInerney who, for this song, picked up a harmonica and played solo on it at the same time as he was handling the cello. “Bridge” that followed also sounded amazing.
After another funny little story and a suggestion on how a man can fix a problem with his significant other “Until There Was You” kicked off; another beautiful piece that sounded fantastic. And then, as the beautiful “Out Of Mind” from my QUEENSRŸCHE favorite record “Promised Land” echoed out and transformed into “Silent Lucidity” the crowd knew no limits, the response was fantastic, both in Copenhagen and Gothenburg. In Copenhagen, Casey and Steven took their instruments and sat down on the edge of the stage. It perhaps doesn’t sound too strange but the fact was that the place was packed and they had to squeeze themselves down, and right in front of me too. Which make the band come ridiculously close as the people behind me didn’t want to move or didn’t really see what was happening.
The majority of the set was QUEENSRŸCHE songs, only “The Fight” was from the OPERATION: MINDCRIME band. Even if it was the classic QUEENSRŸCHE songs that got the most cheers, people seemed to know this one too and the response was really good. Toward the end of the song, before the last chorus-line the band did a halt having the crowd started cheering prematurely and just when the screams took off for real, the song started again. Geoff and the rest of the band looked very satisfied with this little trick.
“Blood” got dedicated to the refuge situation happening right now with Geoff talking about what he’d seen on his travels around the world, the refugee situation, the people, including children suffering in the streets where nowhere to go. While he was talking, guitarist Casey Jones left the guitar to James McInerney who laid the cello down for a while. This too worked out in a very good way and the duel between James and Scott Moughton sounded great. The complex rhythms worked well on acoustics also even if the frantic drumming took over a little too much in Copenhagen. As mentioned, the balance between the instruments was better in Gothenburg, so this song definitely worked better there. The show continued on with “Take Hold Of The Flame” still with James on guitar. The “take hold” singing from the crowd was immense, it’s damn cool when basically everyone in the venue knows the songs.
Another highlight of the show was “The Lady Wore Black”; the real old school song and the first QUEENSRŸCHE ever written together as Geoff said. Even if the extreme high-pitched chorus-line had been lowered, it sounded amazing - it’s clear he still have a superb vocal range nowadays too. “Hundred Mile Stare” the sole song from “American Soldier” was narrated by Geoff, another great and very personal story about his father. These stories made the show fantastic, even if they didn’t stick together all the time. But that made it all feel spontaneous and personal.
The end of the main set was dedicated to “Operation: Mindcrime”; first out “I Don't Believe In Love” and damn, there was power in this one. Musically it sounded massive and it’s fascinating that songs can work so well when transformed into acoustics. That the songs from “Promised Land” and other later material would work is not as surprising. But this also sounded fantastic and was highly appreciated by the crowd. Plus, the story that the album really failed to start with not many knew, it was new to me at least. I’ve only heard about the success of the album, it was a huge success of course but not until it was put on rotation on MTV. The song was kind of halted during the solo when Scott got some time of his own and when not moving on, Geoff asking him where he was going with the solo it felt very spontaneous. Having the same repeated in Gothenburg also took a bit away from it but it still was a very good moment. And that “Eyes Of A Stranger” would go down well shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
Comparing the two shows, I have to say that the surprise-factor in Copenhagen did its trick and set that apart, also the extremely cheerful atmosphere at High Voltage increased the experience. On the other hand, happy-hour beers made the crowd lose focus and on occasion, as Geoff was talking the noise from the bar got so loud it was hard to hear what Geoff was saying. But both shows were absolutely fantastic, Geoff sounded amazing and the band did a great job with the songs behind him.
After a short break at High Voltage just attempting to leave the stage, Geoff introduced the band as THE BAND ANNA from Cork, Ireland and left them jamming a bit, “I'm Shipping Up To Boston” as duet between Ryan and Geoff. All respect to DROPKICK MURPHYS who wrote the song but I have to say I appreciated the QUEENSRŸCHE songs a lot more than this one. In Copenhagen, the set also featured “Around The World” as a round-up of the fantastic (almost) two hour set.
Geoff Tate setlist:
01. “Walk In The Shadows”
02. “Another Rainy Night (Without You)”
03. “Some People Fly”
04. “Jet City Woman”
05. “Chasing Blue Sky”
07. “Until There Was You”
08. “Out Of Mind”
09. “Silent Lucidity”
10. “The Fight”
12. “Take Hold Of The Flame”
13. “The Lady Wore Black”
14. “Hundred Mile Stare”
15. “I Don't Believe In Love”
16. “Eyes Of A Stranger”
17. “I'm Shipping Up To Boston” (DROPKICK MURPHYS cover)
18. “Around The World”
Geoff Tate (Copenhagen)
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Geoff Tate (Gothenburg)
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