Geoff Tate – City Winery, New York, N.Y, USA, 20th February, 2017
Set List: Walk In The Shadows/Another Rainy Night (Without You)/Jet City Woman/Chasing Blue Sky/Bridge/Until There Was You/Out Of Mind/Silent Lucidity/The Fight/Blood/Take Hold Of The Flame/The Lady Wore Black/Hundred Mile Stare/I Don’t Believe In Love/Eyes Of A Stranger/I’m Shipping Up To Boston/Around The World.
Anyone who was a music fan during the 1980's is familiar with Geoff Tate and his former band, Queensryche. I had always associated Geoff and his band a, solely, designated to arenas. Having seen Tate several times in his 1980’s element; the thought he would perform an acoustic show, one day, seemed preposterous. That is no longer the case.
I now revel in the fact that so many artists perform acoustic shows in intimate settings. On a small stage minus the wall of amplifiers, stripped down and raw, leaves an artist vulnerable. They need to sink or swim on their own.
Personally I have never been disappointed in an acoustic set. The artists, I have witnesses, have showcased how talented they really are. It also gives them the opportunity to connect with the audience on a personal level. Rik Emmet, Chris Cornell and now Geoff Tate have left their audience awestruck by the amount of talent they possess. They, also, function as storytellers; detailing the origins of their most known choices.
Geoff is one of the most recognized voices in his genre. Backed by a six piece acoustic band, Tate played New York City’s City Winery. The Winery is a notably small, intimate theater that also functions as a full winery and restaurant. An older, wiser, relaxed Tate seemed as at home here as he did playing in front of massive festival crowds. As a Queensryche fan, I was astounded at how perfectly these arrangements flowed. Not that I doubted Tate’s performance capacities but more a difficulty imagining certain songs sounding any other way.
Tate’s familiar powerhouse voice ignited the evening with Queensryche’s ‘Walk in the Shadows’, a song originally on their second album, ‘Rage to Order’. It was apparent that many of the fans were awaiting the songs that made Tate famous and he did not disappoint. Tate continued with ‘Another Rainy Night’, ‘Some People Fly’ - numbers known to the hardcore Queensryche fans, however, quickly launching into Jet City Woman’ cast an air of familiarity among the listeners.
The evening progressed with an assortment of samples from Tate’s catalog. Both the familiar and unfamiliar were mesmerized by the melodic, multi octave vocals of the performer. The audience was, also, taken with the charm and elegance of Tate as he detailed the creation behind each number.
Touching on his well known history, Tate explained his former band’s struggle with notoriety during the 1980s age of super groups. Queensryche played for thousands while touring with fellow bands, such as Metallica and Def Leppard; yet success eluded them. That was until a music television station, known as MTV, launched and paved the way for artists to easily reach the masses. MTV execs were taken with Queensryche’s song ‘I Don’t Believe in Love’. With the track in heavy rotation, Queensryche soon became a headlining band. Naturally the historic diatribe led into the song and it was spectacular.
What certified Tate’s success as an acoustic songsmith was his clique of accomplished instrumentalists. Scott Moughton’s guitar prowess was an attribute to the set. He also supports Tate in Operation: Mindcrime; Tate’s official touring band. Moughton’s Fellow stage sharing colleagues Casey Jones, Steven Hamilton, Nathan Daily and James McInnerney hailed from stateside and the Emerald Isle. Violinist, Ryan Parsons gave a stellar performance and added vibrancy to the stage. Being a violinist, myself, I am always ecstatic to notice how often this instrument appears in modern music.
Tate continued impressing the spectators with his multi-octave vocal range. As the show drew toward its climax more noted numbers appeared once the audience had wet their appetite. The beauty of ‘Silent Lucidity’ with its melodic flow and esoteric harmonies had the crowd silent and speechless until the number had ended.
Tate and the band rounded out the evening with a bit more Queensryche, some ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ and a Dropkick Murphy Cover. Tate left his past behind and has graduated to a seasoned soloist who is still considered one of the primary voices of rock. Surrounded by musicians who accentuate his roster of music; Tate has reached another dimension of his art. This wasn’t an evening of Queensryche, it didn’t have to be: Tate has proven he can stand on his own.
By Dawn Belotti