Geoff Tate @Newcastle Trillians, May 4 2022
There’s no other word that comes close to describing the opening date of a tour celebrating two of metal’s most significant albums…
…significant, cerebral and gloriously ambitious in their artistic scope.
When Queensrÿche dropped the dynamic Rage For Order in 1986 the masses weren’t quite ready for the progressive complexity of a soon-to-be-classic record.
But by the time 1990’s Empire had catapulted the band into the commercial big leagues, Seattle’s finest were recognised as masters of their art…if not their destiny.
The albums that bookended Operation: Mindcrime form two thirds of a career-defining triumvirate never equalled in terms of quality, consistency and visionary clout.
And on his long-awaited return to Tyneside, a visibly energised Tate paid tribute to both records with typical verve and effervescence.
The former Queensrÿche frontman revealed that racing through Rage For Order in its entirety had been a long held ambition.
And he thanked a crowd in thrall of the German-born singer for indulging his ‘bucket list’ moment.
Ready and willing, nobody present needed a proverbial pat on the back.
For the people of Newcastle this was their own bucket list moment: another golden opportunity to get up close and personal with a true giant of the progressive metal scene.
Back at Trillians for the first time since 2018’s double date unpicking Mindcrime, it was like Tate had never been away.
The voice sounded more powerful than ever.
Waves of raw emotion poured off the stage.
And yet again the main man surrounded himself with a tour de force of live musicians more than capable of mimicking peak DeGarmo, Wilton, Rockenfield and Jackson.
Tate remains one of the most prolific songwriters in rock and nobody can accuse the 63-year-old of trading on the past.
But a 23-song deep dive into Queensrÿche’s storied past reinforced the adage that the old ones are the best.
In Tate’s case, the Best I Can.
Rage For Order might have been the precursor to Queensrÿche’s golden era.
But in retrospect a remarkably bold record was a necessary stepping stone towards Mindcrime’s immersive narrative and Empire’s melodic rock gloss.
Snapshots of both subsequent albums can be heard throughout Rage For Order as Tate and co. embarked on their brave evolution.
And juxtaposing Queensrÿche’s second long player with their fourth in the live arena only served to further illustrate the staging posts on a remarkable journey towards early 90s domination.
At its most furious, Rage For Order is more akin to the Bay Area’s Big Four: the ferocity of Surgical Strike’s adrenaline-fuelled riffage rocked Trillians to the core.
Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion) unashamedly leans on NWOBHM’s familiar tropes and Screaming In Digital was a face-melting highlight on a memorable night.
No wonder Queensrÿche never quite fitted in as they opened up for the likes of Bon Jovi and Ratt in support of their out-of-time sophomore album.
But fast forward four years and the transition to MTV-friendly melodic rock titans was complete.
Empire is an album polished to the point of blinding brilliance.
And replicating that record’s glossier moments within the confines of a tiny club in the Toon posed few problems to Tate and co.
Sure, a few brief technical hitches (swiftly ironed out) temporally blighted Best I Can.
Tate’s microphone cut out and the otherwise perfect mix momentarily went awry.
But by the time the band was in the thick of The Thin Line a largely flawless show was back on track.
Another Rainy Night (Without You) managed to eclipse the chart-busting Silent Lucidity and deliciously understated Della Brown as the Empire set highlight.
But such was Tate’s imperious form, the competition was intense.
Never has a man in sandals rocked so hard and for so long.
Some time after 11pm the party celebrating two iconic records finally wound down.
An ‘encore’ performance of Queen Of The Reich crowned a triumphant first night on this hotly anticipated UK tour.
And Tate retreated back into the shadows with his reputation enhanced and his fans in rapture.
Anybody Listening? You should be.
And get there early for charismatic opener Mark Daly if a heady fusion of hard rock and grunge floats your boat.
Live images courtesy of Mick Burgess