GIG REVIEW: An Evening With Geoff Tate’s OPERATION MINDCRIME at Annapolis, MD
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
Unique, intimate, amazing. These are just a few of the words that can be used to describe the masterful performance of Operation: Mindcrime, Geoff Tate’s new band formed after separating from his previous band, the iconic Queensryche. The venue for the evening was Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, MD, a small, dark room in downtown Annapolis, about two blocks away from the State Capital. The room was long and rectangular with tables butting up against the slightly elevated stage, an almost perfect setting to experience a Queensryche fangirl’s dream.
With no openers at this show, Operation: Mindcrime quietly approached the stage around 8pm. Flanked by red and blue lighting, they started their set with two consecutive songs from the ‘Rage for Order’ album, “Neue Regel” and “Screaming in Digital”. It was immediately apparent that Geoff’s vocals are just as strong as ever. It was only later that he was having noticeable nasal distress, a head cold or allergies, maybe, which may have impacted hitting those high notes. Despite this, the band delivered a near flawless execution of songs culled from Geoff Tate’s solo efforts as well as Queensryche releases like “I Don’t Believe in Love” and “At 30,000 Ft”.
It was at this point that the realization hit that every three or four songs, Geoff would take a few minutes to tell a story. Being so gifted with words and music, it’s only natural that he would excel in this aspect. His stories were heartfelt and charming, topics of which ranged from family to the difference between Washington DC and Washington State to adventures at the grocery store. The anecdotes melded well with the song selections and gave a little insight as to the history or motivation behind the man and his work.
Continuing, we were then treated to a four-song acoustic set which blew everyone away. Unfortunately, we did not catch the name of the bass player sitting in for John Moyer who is currently on tour with his alternate project, Disturbed. Regardless, the acoustic bass looked impressive and fit into the overall sound seamlessly. Scott Moughton killed on guitar, along with Kelly Gray, both plugged and unplugged, Simon Wright on drums and Randy Gane on keys. The songs for the unplugged set were striking, “Jet City Woman” being not that far a stretch for an acoustic version, sounding fairly similar to the original recording. Following was “Take Hold of the Flame” which was striking on its own as the structure of the song was also modified to accommodate the unplugged elements. The entire acoustic set was visionary and I would highly advocate for an all acoustic CD from Operation: Mindcrime in the future.
The next four-song subset consisted of songs from Operation: Mindcrime’s newest release, ‘The Key’. Starting with “Re-Inventing the Future” and rounding out with “The Fall”, the new music came across as pensive and moody, trademark Tate at his best. The second and third installments of the trilogy should be epic. After another interlude into the spoken word, a few more classics were thrown our way, the likes of “Walk in the Shadows” and the iconic “Eyes of a Stranger”. After a brief respite, the band bounded back with an encore of “Breaking the Silence” and “Empire”, closing out a nearly two-hour set of auditory excellence witnessed by probably 100 dedicated fans. Did I mention the venue was small?
This show was one of the highlights of my concert attendance experiences. It was intimate, dark and phenomenal. In my opinion, Geoff Tate is, was and will always be the look and the sound of Queensryche. Now, he’s the look and sound of Operation: Mindcrime as well.