By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
The last time I saw Geoff Tate was in December 2020 amid the COVID pandemic. He brought a bit of normalcy to December since the public had been starved of concerts since early that spring. I recall the show as exhilarating to see the Voice of Queensrÿche kick off his 30th Anniversary of Empire Tour.
The music of Queensrÿche has been dubbed “thinking man’s metal,” based on its progressive rock style combined heavily with socio-political themes and criticisms of society and technology. Many bands, such as Dream Theater and Disturbed, have been heavily influenced by their music.
Well, Geoff Tate returned to Clearwater in 2023—albeit a couple of years later—to reprise the concert before heading south to South America and Central America. So, on January 16, 2023, the 50-something crowd braved the cold and 40 mph wind gusts (it was in the 40s) to relive the 80s and see some first-class entertainment.
The evening began with rockers Mark Daly and the Ravens, which performed songs from their recent EP Nothing to Lose and singles dating back to 2018. Hailing from Cork, Daly spoke to the crowd about his gratitude for touring with Tate in 2020 until the pandemic shut down the tour—and the world. With an Irish lilt, he described his fear of “missing out on the American dream,” saying, “Performing in America is the best fuckin’ feeling in the world. You cheer the opening band.”
Daly performed a rousing set of hard rock songs, with raspy vocals reminiscent of Alice Cooper. Lead guitarist James Brown showed off his guitar skills in my favorite of the group, “Nothing to Lose,” a heavy bass-driven song that hearkens to the days of classic rock. The band, comprised of members from both sides of the pond, truly impressed the crowd, who showed enthusiasm by arm raising and cheers. In addition, the band’s cover of Highly Suspect’s “Lydia” was excellent. Rock At Night will keep this band on the radar.
After a short break, Geoff Tate emerged to a stage full of thick smoke, flashing strobes, and colored lights. The crowd rose to their feet—and remained standing for most of the concert. The audience mouthed every lyric, fists pumping and knees bouncing to the beat. The energy in the crowd was seismic as Tate’s voice soared to a high falsetto and lowered to a baritone, all in the same stanza.
Guitarist Kieran Robertson performed impressive guitar runs while twirling and leaping on the stage. He also provided spot-on vocal harmonies, which blended perfectly with Tate’s voice. Even James Brown from Daly’s band joined for the set. All the band members were technically skillful and energetic–the way all rock shows should be.
Tate spoke to the audience between songs, paying homage to the late sound mixing engineer James Barton saying, ” Remember people in your life. The older you get, you lose friends”) and giving background tidbits during the introduction of each song.
After sitting down for “Real World,” the audience rose to their feet again for “Breaking the Silence,” and “I Don’t Believe in Love.” Tate told an amusing story of a man staring at him while pumping gas. After several minutes he finally spoke, admitting he “owned all of his records” and asked, “What have you been doing since 1991?” The fan was unaware Tate had 19 recorded albums, with several recorded into the Millennium. After exchanging email addresses, the man contacted him after the holidays exclaiming, “I now have every one of your albums!”
The band broke into the song “Cold” released in 2013, proving great music exists beyond the band’s glory days of Empire and Operation: Mindcrime. Tate and the band’s delivery were awe-inspiring.
Tate asked the audience, “Aren’t you glad the holidays are over, between dinner with the family and all the shit that comes up?” He then sang “Bridge” before heading into the wildly popular (based on the audience’s reaction) “Screaming in Digital” and “Walk in the Shadows.”
He dedicated “Jet City Woman” to the “love of his life,” his wife, Susan. There was a lot of audience participation as the crowd filled in the chorus, raising fists in solidarity.
Tate mentioned our unseasonably cold weather saying, “I was so looking forward to coming to Clearwater. But can you imagine my disappointment? It’s frigid outside. Next week I’ll be in South America.” He asked the audience where people have traveled since he’s been to approximately 65 countries. He expressed his excitement about playing in Peru for the first time, saying, “Peru! High in Machu Pichu!”
The evening ended with “Silent Lucidity”, which topped off a near perfect evening of rock and metal music. Between discovering Mark Daly to seeing the venerable Geoff Tate in concert, I am sure everyone left with a smile on their face.
Mark Daly & the Ravens
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