An “Operation” at the Capitol Theatre

By on January 20, 2014

Geoff Tate, Queensryche (photo Travis Failey / RSEN}

Geoff Tate’s Queensryche played the Capitol Theatre on a brisk winter night in Florida. Yes, brisk in Florida, but once you got inside the beautifully remodeled Capitol Theater in Clearwater, things heated up very quickly. Geoff Tate and a star studded veteran supporting group were touring in support of the 25th Anniversary of Queensryche’s epic release, Operation Mindcrime.  Mindcrime put rock concept albums back on the map, and turned fans onto this band who didn’t listen to them before and would lead them to their earlier material, and into hardcore fans.

I had already been listening to this band prior to this, as a friend introduced me to Queensryche through their self-titled EP and their next two releases in The Warning and Rage for Order.

I loved these albums when they came out and still do to this day but there are songs on Mindcrime that reside in my top ten all time. (“The Needle Lies” is one of them)

I was 17 when this was released and I struggled at times as a teen. Most do.  Music was my solace and something I could relate to. I was also starting to truly appreciate the art of vocals, especially trained opera rock singers. With Geoff Tate being one of these, Queensryche hooked me early on.

Geoff Tate & Sass Jordan (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

At this time, some of the all time great hard rock and heavy metal was released. In 1987-1988 alone, Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, Metallica’s And Justice for All and Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation, were being played across the country. G n’ R and Metallica were on the cusp of being the biggest bands in the world and Aerosmith’s huge comeback was in full effect. Other bands with classic releases at this time included Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Dio, Whitesnake and so on. Check out this list of just the ones released in 1988 http://heavymetal.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/bestof1988.htm. Very impressive and it’s music that still holds up today.

Some would call this time “The Golden Age of Metal,” as the genre was extending its reach from the inner city kids with bootleg early Metallica cassettes, to the music that was being played at every party in the suburbs. This would last until the record companies’ crammed glam down everyone’s throats and with that, a new trend was beginning to take hold in the same place where Queensryche got their start, Seattle.

Robert Sarzo (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

I have seen this band many times and in almost every formation. From the original lineup, to the many different incarnations due to the switching out of guitarists when Chris Degarmo left the band in 1997. His resignation from the band, after the release of Hear in the Now Frontier, would change this band and commercially they would struggle for years, leading up to their relationship issues today.

Tonight’s performance though would be a different event all together. With Tate and the other three remaining members of the original Queensryche (Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield, & Eddie Jackson) at odds and in litigation, Geoff Tate has been touring with a who’s who of musicians. Joining Tate and guitarist Kelly Gray on stage were Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio), Sass Jordan, and Robert and Rudy Sarzo. This is the first time that I’ve seen Rudy Sarzo since his days with Whitesnake and this is the first tour that he has played on with his brother Robert. Rudy Sarzo is a magician on the bass and is up with there with the likes of Billy Sheehan, Steve Harris and Stu Hamm.  It was amazing to find out that he was 63 as he was playing like a young gun, slinging his bass and his body all over the stage, putting on a performance within the performance.  Upon meeting him after the show, he was humble, approachable and in unbelievable physical shape. He found the Fountain of Youth somewhere. Maybe at the “Crossroads.”

Rudy Sarzo (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Geoff Tate’s Queensryche wasted no time in getting Mindcrime going with the opening Intros “I Remember Now” and “Anarchy X” leading into the arena rock anthem “Revolution Calling.” Moving through the title track and then to “Speak,”  I was reserving my opinion, especially with the vocals, until the second half of the album.

After “Speak,” everyone in the crowd was expecting to hear “Spreading the Disease” but the band left the stage so Simon Wright could perform a drum solo. As you know, I’m not a fan of the drum solo, but this one was from a veteran who knew how to play to the crowd and to not over do it.

After the solo, Geoff Tate’s Queensryche continued through Operation Mindcrime with Sass Jordan performing the vocal duties that Pamela Moore provided the band for many years.

Sass Jordan (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

She was another surprise as I didn’t know she was touring with them. I wasn’t very familiar with her previous material, but I was familiar with her name and her credentials. She did a marvelous job vocally and her synchronicity with Tate was undeniable. As they finished up with the second half of Mindcrime with “Eyes of a Stranger,” my opinion of Geoff Tate’s vocals could be made. After hearing “Revolution Calling,” I was thinking that maybe this was one tour to many, but as the set and show went on, I was realizing how wrong I was. Geoff was spot on from “Operation Mindcrime” through the encore tracks, and proved once again that he belongs in the conversation when talking about the category of great singers.

The only thing about the show that I didn’t care for was the songs that were picked for the encore.

Silent Lucidity, Empire & Jet City Woman are great songs and I realize that they are hits and fans love the  hits, but we also love to hear deep cuts. Shows become even more memorable when fans walk out saying “I’ve never heard or seen them play that song live before.”

Simon Wright (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

All in all, it was a great show and even though the Capitol Theatre wasn’t at capacity, the fans that were in attendance knew every word and loved every minute of tonight’s performance.

It will be interesting to see how the litigation between the two Queensryche factions works out, but they can always say, that together they created one of the greatest rock albums of all time and that maybe someday, they can all perform it together for the fans, once again.

Queensryche at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Geoff Tate (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Rudy Sarzo (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Geoff Tate (photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

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