I remember now why Queensryche is one of my favorite bands and why I consider Operation: Mindcrime to be one of the best metal albums of all time. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Mindcrime, Geoff Tate's version of Queensryche treated a near capacity crowd at Bogart's to a front-to-back live rendition of the now-classic progressive metal masterpiece last night.
Regardless of where you stand on Tate and his role in the breakup of the classic Queensryche lineup, you have to admit that he's a hall of fame frontman. He doesn't have the range that he once possessed, but he's still able to deliver the goods and it was awesome watching him ham it up on stage and interact with the crowd throughout the set. His voice has shifted down a pitch or two, but it still fits seamlessly with the music. Speaking of which, the backing band that Tate is touring with handled the Mindcrime tunes admirably. Unless you're a DeGarmo fanatic or a guitar aficionado, you probably wouldn't have been able to tell that these were a bunch of fill-ins. Also, it was fun watching Rudy Sarzo do Rudy Sarzo things. I felt that the classic Queensryche tone was missing just a bit, but let's face it, we're there to see Tate.
After a miserable set from openers Hurricane, who couldn't have shown less enthusiasm to be there, the curtain was drawn as the anticipation built. I didn't do any research prior to the show so I had no idea that the 'Ryche would be playing Mindcrime in its entirety until the piped-in intercom paged Dr. Blair and Dr. J. Hamilton. What followed was a glorious hour of classic metal with very little interruption, save for a boner drum solo and a misguided rant from Tate on terrorism or some such nonsense. As I mentioned, Tate sounded fantastic and the band was on point. They even had a female backup singer who stepped forward to play the role of Sister Mary when necessary. All of the quirky interludes were included and the crowd didn't stop singing along and pumping fists until the last strains of "Eyes of a Stranger" were drowned out by the sinister, robotic "Mindcrime" voice that closes out the album. Well worth the price of admission.
The 'Ryche came back out and played five more songs, all of the subsequent album Empire. "Silent Lucidity" is probably a requirement at this point, and it went over well enough. "Best I Can" could've been skipped, but the trio of "Another Rainy Night", "Jet City Woman" and "Empire" was a pretty damn strong closer. I guess I'll have to check out the other version of Queensryche to hear some of the older tunes, but I was glad Tate's band stuck to those two albums and didn't try to force any new material on the audience. I definitely recommend that you check out what's left of this tour if you get a chance. Tate will no longer be allowed to use the Queensryche moniker after August, so this is kind of the end of an era. If you're an old 'Ryche fan like me, you won't be disappointed.