By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Review: Geoff Tate at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–December 7, 2020
Attending a concert during COVID
The evening of December 7th was a glorious day back to normality—well, kind of—with Rock At Night photographing and reviewing a concert at our fav’ venue Ruth Eckerd Hall (REH), Clearwater, Florida. I had not stepped foot in the venue since possibly February, and wondered a) can I still nail a photo and b) is it safe? Concerts at the hall are enforcing face masks and social distancing, but what was I to expect?
On a chilly evening, instead of a long queue for security, concertgoers were swiftly lead through a state-of-the-art security and temperature measuring device using XONAR Technology. Basically, it is like going through a metal detector device at the airport—quick, easy, and non-invasive. The device uses radio waves to detect weapons and uses thermal imaging sensors to detect elevated body temperature, a red flag for somebody coming down ill.
Apparently, REH invested in HVAC-PHI air purifiers to assist in eliminating viruses through oxidation and UV. The venue is still serving beverages but you can order them using a mobile app and safely pick it up at the counter, without the hassle of a long line.
When I walked into the auditorium, people sat coupled but spread apart—and everybody was wearing a mask unless they were drinking a beverage. If people were just sitting and chatting without facial coverage, a security person would kindly remind the person to cover up. Really, I don’t see what the big problem is with wearing a mask. We wear seat belts for protection in cars and sunglasses for eye protection. Be courteous to your neighbor!
Concert review—Geoff Tate
Geoff Tate, the Voice of Queensrÿche , kicked off his 30th Anniversary of Empire Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall to a very appreciative and enthusiastic audience. The 50-something crowd were wearing Queensrÿche t-shirts, likely originals from the 80s or 90s, and waited for some first class entertainment.
The agenda for the evening was two wildly favorite Queensrÿche albums—Rage for Order (1986) and the triple-platinum Empire (1990). Dubbed as “thinking man’s metal”, the progressive metal band combined heavily socio-political themes and criticisms of society and technology. Many bands such as Dream Theater and Disturbed have been heavily influenced by their music.
The evening commenced with Rage for Order’s “Walk in the Shadows”, and followed the entire album track by track. I actually really love tours which perform notable albums in their entirety because non-radio friendly or deeper cut songs make it to the list.
One sits in awe as Geoff Tate’s voice soared to a high or even falsetto, held notes for an unbelievable time, and then lowered to a baritone. Wearing a gold brocade jacket and dark glasses, he walked from side to side, gesturing with open arms and emotion as he sang. The touring band, Scott Moughton (guitar), Kieran Robertson (guitar), Darren Milsom (bass), and Daniel Laverde (drums), gave proper support to the music, often gazing at each other, and doing the “rock musician” hair toss.
Tate spoke to the audience, who were standing, and mouthing words to most of his songs during the concert, saying, “I am so happy to play this album. The songs chosen are a milestone to me. In 1986, the world was changing so fast. I watched the news. We traveled a lot…and here we are 30 years later.”
After a 15-minute intermission, the band jumped into the album Empire. Songs like “Jet City Woman” and “Empire” had people fist pumping and dancing. Tate changed into a rose-colored brocade shirt, a porkpie hat, and removed the shades. A welcomed song that really seemed timeless, especially in 2020, was “Resistance”. Actually, the lyrics and subject matter in both albums, such as songs like “Surgical Strike” and “Screaming in Digital”, are totally relevant today. The music of Queensrÿche is timeless.
After “Another Rainy Night (Without You”, Tate looked at the audience and said, “Look at all those t-shirts! Look at those tattoos!” I can’t believe it! Thirty years and we’re all still here!”
After “Empire” Tate asked the audience, “You doing OK? This is our first show! Back in February we were on a roll in Europe, hit the U.S., and all hell broke loose! This [pandemic] unplugged everybody. The World shut down behind us and we thought it was a temporary thing. Nine month later, scientists are working on this [vaccine]. I can’t wait for the day we can take our masks off and look at each other again without fear.”
Another crowd favorite was “Silent Lucidity”, which Tate noted, “I never get sick of this song. I love the song. People get married to it. Buried to it. Children get made to this song.”
It was a magical evening of first class music and a great way to feel “normal” again in this strange new world. If you get a chance to catch Geoff Tate on tour, go for it. Mask up. Stay safe. Enjoy!