Friday, 27th November 2015
013, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Operation: Mindcrime.... Now that is something special.
I have listened to the Queensryche album countless times and saw snippets of it live in concert on a few occasions.
To be able to experience the entire album live in concert is something I had hoped for ever since I heard
the album for that very first time somewhere in the mid-nineties when I was discovering the progressive metal genre.
But a lot has changed since that, still very succesful, period in the history of Queensryche.
Not only did Chris DeGarmo quit the band as main composer but in recent years the band got rid of singer Geoff Tate and his wife,
who was Queensryches manager at the time.
After losing the fight over the use of the bandname "Queensryche" Geoff opted for the use of the title of the before mentioned, now legendary, album.
Operation: Mindcrime released their debut album the Key last autumn and met with some scepticism and a whole range of positive and less positive reviews.
I listened to the album since the first week of it`s release and was a bit surprised by the quality of the majority of the album.
In fact, I actually liked it. But my expectations were no that high in regards to the upcoming tour.
Somehow I was not that convinced about the band mister Tate took with him on the tour.
But boy....did the band prove me wrong tonight.
Together with fellow DPRP reviewer Marcel I entered the smaller hall of the 013 in Tilburg.
Renovated and enlarged the 013 yet again proves to be a great place for any band, no matter how big or small their fame is.
The venue was not sold out, but that didn`t stop the band performing a very well executed version of the album.
There were no videoscreens or other visual effects, other than a very enthusiastic band who did not mind the venue was not packed.
Now I do have to say that Geoff had to warm up a bit during the first songs and didn`t take any risk in trying to reach for the higher notes.
But overall I was impressed with his vocals. Bassist John Moyer (Disturbed) and drummer Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC)
proved to be a very tight rhythm section. Long time friend of Geof, Randy Gane,
provided the keyboards and former Queensryche axe-man Kelly Gray and Scott Moughton
of Tate`s solo band were very capable in handling all the guitar parts and solo`s,
capturing all of the magic from the original album. With that said, the band chose a safe route
to play the album just like the album including most of the solo parts.
Maybe a wise choice but due tot the fact that we are talking about some very good musicians with each
their own sound and character I wonder what it would have been like if they had put their own soul in the music.
The album however provides for some great songs. In fact this is an album with no weaker tracks to
my opinion and the highlights within this highlight of an album also stood out for me this evening.
Revolution Calling, Speak, Suite Sister Mary (with the help of singer Clódagh Kearney from
Folk duo Fire and Water) and Eyes of a Stranger were executed very well.
I really a enjoyed the selection of the Key-tracks as well, Burn in particular.
And than to much of my and other attendees surprise the band started playing Take hold of the flame.
And Geoff delivered. He handled that very well and with my eyes closed I enjoyed the fact that this sounded like Queensryche at their best.
As if we did not had enough of an encore the band took the stage once more to play some tracks from the Empire album.
Silent Lucidity, The Thin Line, Jet City Woman and the titletrack made for a very satisfying end to a wonderful evening in Tilburg.
"I remember now." That is about the first line main character Nikki says in the opening minutes of Operation: Mindcrime,
the Queensryche album that changed the concept of concept albums.
Or, at least, something along that line was in the bio of that band.
And that band also, also used to be the home of the vocalist that graced Tilburg's 013 arena this evening.
The building rearranged and so it did take some time to find out
in which former part we were going to listen to Geoff Tate and the band named Operation: Mindcrime.
As a result of the acrimonious split with his former band, Geoff is no longer entitled to use their name.
On the other hand, he is the one that came out the quarrel with the rights to play Queensryche's possibly most renowned album,
Operation: Mindcrime. Going back to 1988, even without the overblown statement in the band's bio,
the album proved a great success and led to Queensryche being nominated for three Grammy's for both that album.
Worldwide the album is considered to be amongst the best concept albums.
And here Tilburg got the chance to witness it being played live again in its entirety.
The Queensryche fanbase must have been in two minds about what was to be witnessed as huge
parts of the hall were just plain empty where once each and every minute of this very album would have had all of them in awe.
Was it the band Geoff was taking out on the road? Each and every one of them an experienced musician,
from Disturbed's bass player John Moyer to Simon Wright of AC/DC fame on drums and even Kelly
Gray and Randy Gane who both had their attachment with Queensryche of their own.
Seasoned veterans, all of them, yet, perhaps just not the super band of well known or revered names you would hope to see the album play.
Apart from that, gone were the days when Geoff Tate sported a white tee shirt and leather jacket,
in every way looking the young junky thug Nikki as he now walked onto the stage in a vest,
much more looking like an entertainer in a night club than one of the greatest heavy rock singers on the face of the earth.
"What to expect then?" The band kicked off with Anarchy X and it was pleasing to hear the riffs and hooks played right.
As for that matter, Kelly Gray and Scott Moughton did every bit of their duty.
Geoff's voice proved a bit thin in the first couple of songs in the set and he seemed to struggle to sing the high notes.
Yes, he did manage, but the days of those silverthroated screams and putting Ian Gillan and Rob Halford to shame,
seemed to have vanished. As hitting the high notes was all just within margins, or so it seemed,
doubts were still around as to how well the band and Geoff would work the entire album.
The band proved adequate at performing the songs, particularly the rhythm section left nothing to be desired.
Simon proved he could take on the difficult parts Scott Rockenfield once came up with and John Moyer
is not only a great bass player but did handle the backing vocals effectively as well.
The guitar solo's however, particularly those that have that signature Chris DeGarmo sound,
were reproduced as they should be, but, the way they were played, to these ears seemed to miss that special something.
It appeared to me that Kelly Gray did most of the soloing, yet,
whenever Scott Moughton took over the solo parts, the parts seemed to have way more soul.
We even got to hear a live Sister Mary part, as the singer with one of the opening acts,
the Irish Fire and Water, took on that role and later on returned to play saxophone,
Clódagh Kearney. On both accounts, she fared very
well. During the second part of the album's performance Geoff switched microphones and
that must have worked a miracle as his voice suddenly sounded not as thin as before and
that made the performance far more convincing. After all, part of the Queensryche success was his voice.
And yes, there is the songs and the solo's. Even though much can be said in favour of playing the riffs,
hooks and solo's just like they were meant to be, it does hold the danger of losing the soul in the solo's.
I wonder what would be the feel if the band had decided not to emulate the same solo's but
tried playing in the same vein as the original: perhaps that would have even sounded better.
In the end, I think this is a matter of choice.
As the band ended Operation: Mindcrime, the album, there was still more music to be heard.
First off, there were a couple of songs of the new album. Here the band proved themselves further.
These were the songs they knew from heart. It was good to see that Tate and
his band of merry men need not necessarily draw from the past.
However, it was with a varied platter of Queensryche staples that the band really won the hearts of the people at the 013.
Geoff took it upon himself to take on Take Hold of the Flame and did a very good job at it.
The place went fairly wild. After a short leave off the stage, the band returned and served some Empire tracks,
the title track being the one to end the concert.
All in all, the initial scepticism made way for joy over the workmanship and spirit of the band.
It made for a very worthwhile trip to Tilburg.
I Remember Now
Spreading The Disease
Suite Sister Mary
The Needle Lies
Breaking The Silence
I don’t Believe In Love
Waiting For 22
My Empty Room
Eyes Of A Stranger
Re-inventing The Future
Take Hold Of The Flame
The Thin Line
Jet City Woman
Operation Mindcrime official Website