Geoff Tate @ the Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne with Black Majesty and Espionage
Released in 1988, Operation: Mindcrime was a landmark album for not only Geoff Tate and his then-band Queensryche, but for entire the heavy metal genre. A concept record on par with The Wall, the theme of political corruption rings true today, as it did back when it as first released. Tonight was Melbourne’s turn to witness the performance of the album in its entirety, as Tate and his backing band brought their two-year, 30th Anniversary tour to a close.
First up was Espionage who put on solid performance and warmed up the crowd with some old school heavy metal. The band proudly wear their influences on their sleeves, and if Judas Priest or the speed metal era of Riot are to your liking, then do yourself a favour and check out Espionage as soon as possible.
Black Majesty took to the stage next and they certainty needed no introduction, as they are one of Australia’s premier power metal bands. While their performance was of a high standard, their sound wasn’t, which was surprising considering Espionage had no such problems. Despite this, they were able to overcome the hiccup with songs such as Legacy, Silent Company, Wish You Well and Fall Of The Reich to fall back on.
After a messy split with Queensryche in 2014, Geoff Tate asked for – and was awarded – the rights to play Operation: Mindcrime in full as a solo artist. A smart decision on his part. This, however, would amount to nothing if tonight’s performance didn’t deliver – and the bulk of the weight rested on Tate’s shoulders. His voice is one of the genre’s most iconic, but as long-time fans know, there was a period when Tate wasn’t hitting his stride as a singer. Tonight would be a huge test and expectations were high as those in attendance waited anxiously for Tate to begin the show.
The all-too familiar intro of I Remember Now/Anarchy-X brought the band onstage, and when Tate appeared and sang the classic line, “For a price I’d do about anything, expect pull the trigger, for that I’d need a pretty good cause,” we knew we where in for a great night.
Listening to the album unfold before us really added to the atmosphere, and the crowd enjoyed every second, as did the musicians on stage. Tate’s solo band deserves a mention, as well as a round of applause, for recreating the album so well. It wasn’t entirety authentic – the drum parts, though well played, were slightly altered in places. This was very noticeable during Breaking The Silence, but for a group of young musicians who were not even born when the album was first released, they did a stunning job. The star of the night was of course Geoff Tate, who gave his all. Yes, his range isn’t what it was in his prime, but his performance confirmed that he’s still more than capable of captivating an audience.
The band closed the set with Eyes Of A Stranger, bringing Operation: Mindcrime to a stunning close. If that wasn’t enough, they returned for the obligatory encore and entertained us further with four tracks from Empire, the follow up to Operation: Mindcrime.
There was never a chance that tonight would fail, as the quality of the material alone would get Tate and his band over the line. The only concern was that the performance would fall short of expectations due to how much Operation: Mindcrime is revered by fans. Tate and co. not only took on the challenge, but hit the ball out of the park with a performance that was inspired and dynamic.