The Robin 2 , being one of the best venues in the UK, was an obvious choice when it came to catching Geoff Tate and his ‘Operation Mindcrime 30th Anniversary’ Tour. A tour which recently kicked off with a number of UK dates and is about to roll across Europe in the next few weeks.
The crowd that night was a bit sparse and a bit thinner than expected for such an act. Judging by the people in the audience, perhaps unsurprisingly, most had turned up for the nostalgia of by-gone days, when Geoff was fronting one of the most progressive Metal band around by those days’ standards. Nevertheless, he certainly was instrumental in making the album in question what it was and is remembered for.
First up was support act Till Death Do Us Part, with none other than Tate’s daughter, Emily, at the helm of a 4-piece originating from Scotland. Interestingly, although stylistically anchored in a different musical genre, their blend of New Wave (think Sisters of Mercy / Depeche Mode) combined with the modern sound of Evanescence did not feel out of place, to those ears anyhow.
The band, a writing partnership between Emily and guitarist Kieran Robertson, as was apparent on stage, delivered a short set well executed, that did not seem to scare the audience away. The complicity and humour displayed in between songs had charming qualities too, which no doubt helped them getting through what could have otherwise been a tough gig.
Half an hour later, it was time for the main event of the night, and Doctor G and his OMC, on cue to the backing track, hit the crowd like a ton of bricks! Straight from the get-go, the crowd was singing along, enthusiastically. Revolution was calling, no doubt.
The band went through the 1988 cult album, back to back. The music was delivered with energy and to the satisfaction of the audience, or so it seemed. After shortly disappearing backstage, they returned to perform a few songs lifted off the following album, 1990’s ‘Empire’.
So far, this probably sounds like the perfect night for the Queensrÿche fan wanting to celebrate this great era of the late eighties, when glam rock seemed like it could be booted out of fashion by intelligent music such as that delivered by the Seattle quintet. Well, not quite.
It’s hard to tell if this was avoidable, but ultimately, reproducing material so engrained in people’s life carries risks, and Tate could probably have avoided a few pitfalls by making different choices regarding who to enrol as sidekicks.
To be clear about this; Scott Moughton is a fantastic guitarist, there is no doubt about that, but his delivery of those classic solos was far from faithful. The intent was there but the soul wasn’t. True, Kieran Robertson of Till Death Do Us Part felt like a good fit, and he brought the authenticity needed to the lead and harmony parts when involved, but still, if you’re going to revisit that kind of material, the devil is in the detail, and it was sometimes absent.
But the major let down of the night, in my opinion, was the duet Geoff went through with Emily, his daughter, for the rendition of “Suite Sister Mary”. Emily is a great singer, but her range is nowhere near that of Pamela Moore and her delivery did lack a bit of the passion that has made the song a Queenrÿche fans’ favourite. I’m sure that if I had nothing to compare it to I would be more positive about that key point of the set, but it is my curse it isn’t so.
Still, this feel somewhere between a good and decent gig, perhaps even great. If your familiarity with the songs was not in the way of enjoying it, with Mr Tate himself in good vocal shape, I would recommend anyone interested in outstandingly crafted music to go out and catch OMC live and form an opinion for themselves.