Queensryche Featuring Geoff Tate in Seattle

Queensryche – Featuring Geoff Tate
Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA

By Erik Tweedy

Did we just witness the last performance of Queensryche’s legendary Operation Mindcrime played out in its entirety? Perhaps. On June 29th, Geoff Tate’s version of Queensryche rolled into the Moore Theatre in Seattle Washington, a place the band has called home for 30 years and the location of 2006’s live recording of Mindcrime at the Moore.

So, what has changed since 2006? Plenty….. If you have been out of the rock and roll loop for a while, Tate was fired by the band and left to fend for himself in April of 2012. Since then, Tate has been on a mission to prove that he is Queensryche and the band that fired him were merely just players and have no rights to the name or the bands legacy. I for one, strongly disagree.

Sure, Tate has surrounded himself with an all-star band that includes Rudy Sarzo on bass, Robert Sarzo (Rudy’s brother) on guitar, Kelly Gray on guitar (Queensryche from 1998-2002), Randy Gane on keyboards and both Simon Wright and Brian Tichy on drums, but it only comes across as a good cover band. This version of Queensryche is touring in support of the 25th anniversary of the release of Operation Mindcrime. OM is my all-time favorite album, and I have had the pleasure of seeing Queensryche play it out in full about a dozen times since 1990. It has always given me chills- until now.

This version of Queensryche, if that’s what you can call it, is predicated more on flash and style than substance. I have always been a Tate fan and respected his vocal prowess and amazing range over the years (and he’s still got the pipes), but the band just comes off as a bit over the top and campy. In my opinion, the other members of Queensryche have been every bit as important as Tate’s vocals and this band just didn’t do it for me at all. I came to the show with an open mind, and it started out okay, but when the 20-minute drum solo appeared after “Speak,” that sort of ruined it for me.

Why the hell would you do that right in the middle of the album when you are playing it from start to finish? Was Tate already out of breath four songs into it? The drum solo was way over the top and a buzz kill right as the show was getting into full speed. On top of that, the drums are not tuned to sound like the snap snare of the original release, which is an important element to the overall sound, and it annoyed me throughout the entire show.

As Tate would comment later, “I have never had a drummer that could do a drum solo.”  That is a truly funny statement and a huge slam against Queensryche’s drummer, Scott Rockenfield, generally regarded as one of the better drummers in rock music. That statement alone says that Tate is more about showing off than about musical substance. During the performance I even closed my eyes to pretend that it was the original Queensryche band up there and it just wasn’t working. The guitars are not tuned right, plenty of notes are missed, the background vocals are not even close and the drum sound was just bugging the hell out of me. The overall volume was way over the top and, Gray’s guitar was so loud my head was ringing for two days.

The other Queensryche band that features original members Michael Wilton on guitar, Eddie Jackson on bass and Rockenfield on drums, along with Parker Lundgren on guitar and Todd LaTorre on vocals runs circles around Tate’s version. For the casual fan that has never seen any version of Queensryche, the show was probably more than palatable, but for me, a fan of more than 30 years, I thought it barely passed as an adequate tribute band that happened to have Geoff Tate on vocals.

Having seen the LaTorre-led Queensryche a couple of times back in March, I can easily say that I don’t need to ever see Tate’s version again and will give my allegiance to the real Queensryche band. Time will only tell, along with the courts, as to which version of Queensryche ends up on top, but right now the original band has a big lead in the race. Tate’s best move now would be to just suck it up, admit defeat and head in a new direction, one which he was already headed. I’ll probably never get  to see the live version of Operation Mindcrime again. Fortunately I have Mindcrime at the Moore on DVD so I can relive the good ol’ days whenever I want to.