There were some members of the audience who appeared this past Tuesday night at The Plaza in Orlando, Florida, out of sheer curiosity as to how this version, this lineup of Queensryche could do justice to one of not only one of the band’s most memorable efforts, but one of the most hailed concept albums in rock history.
Some appeared as they had never had the opportunity to catch Queensryche during one of their multiple ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ tours throughout the years. Others showed up just to witness the gathering of some of rock and roll’s most hailed musicians, including AC/DC’s Simon Wright and Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot fame.
Then there were your audience members who wanted to see just how Geoff Tate’s Queensryche could match up to the captivating performances of that “other” band. But regardless of your stance on the infamous split or reason for being there, Geoff Tate’s Queensryche was determined to give as strong as a performance as they possibly could, and the outcome was apparent from start to finish.
One noticeable quality demonstrated by the members of this all star lineup that night was these past sixteen months have allowed time for progress. During the initial leg of this 25th Anniversary of ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ tour, this Queensryche lineup was shredded by negative criticism from members of the band’s dedicated following for their lack of solidity, their sub-par performances and the disturbing gaps within the band’s onstage chemistry.
Throughout the past year and a half, or perhaps even more recently due to the upcoming outcome of the Queensryche court trial, the members of this lineup have tightened up their act, stayed truer to the original recordings and measured up to the high expectations which come along with taking an iconic album to the stage in its entirety.
Even original lead vocalist Geoff Tate, who has similarly been faced with blinding heat for his live performances, made what appeared to be a conscious effort to match the same high notes he originally emitted back in 1988 with varying success. Occasionally there were some clear highlights from Tate vocally throughout the concert, including a ranging scream during “The Needle Lies,” which was met with a surprised reaction from the audience.
Whether this surge of newly found passion can be attributed to vocal lessons, the forthcoming court verdict or the fact that Tate was celebrating his 55th birthday that night, it made a difference from the perspective of an audience member.
The enhanced performances, as well as the gape-eyed stardom which comes along with witnessing a personal longtime favorite album performed live, all of these are qualities which would in most cases add up to an unforgettable Queensryche show. And these same features, at least in the eyes of this reviewer, were immediately diminished to lackluster status following an out lash from the band’s front man during “Speak.”
Geoff Tate made an intentional move to walk over to the same side of the stage where this photographer was standing during the third full length song of the set, bend down and shove his hand at my camera, with enough force to strike me in the head and knock me back two steps. This is an attack which feels retaliatory following my interview with Tate eight months ago, especially considering I was the only authorized photographer at the event.
Following the assault, it was everything I could do to show restraint and remain professional. However, it made listening to Tate’s speech on “refinding his religion” towards the end of the concert sickening, especially from the standpoint of a dedicated fan. The fact that Geoff Tate would treat not only a fan but a member of the press in such a manner is disturbing.
One of the few positive statements I can provide as to the authenticity of this edition of Queensryche is that those musicians which now surround Tate are finally performing at a level which is at the very least tolerable of a band which bears the name of an established progressive metal group: a grade at which they should have been long before they ever decided to hit the stage under the Queensryche name.