GIG REVIEW: TRINITY Featuring Geoff Tate, Tim Owens & Blaze Bayley Live at Syracuse, NY
The weather finally cleared over Syracuse, NY, after dumping two feet of snow over the previous two days. And a small crowd of mostly aging metal heads converged upon Westcott Theater to see Trinity, a touring super group of metal legend vocalists Geoff Tate, Tim “Ripper” Owens, and Blaze Bayley, all former vocalists (or replacement vocalists) for Queensrÿche, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden respectively. Now I’ll admit I really wasn’t expecting much from tonight’s show. The project sounded more like a nostalgic money grab than anything else. And with the exception of some Queensrÿche I don’t own anything by any of the members’ groups, although I’ve obviously heard and knew their names and the bands’ work. But I figured I should take advantage of seeing music legends that I wouldn’t likely have again. And it turned out that I’m very glad I did.
Author G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” You cannot say the same about metal musicians. My first thoughts when the three of them strutted out on stage together (dressed in the requisite black leather vests, some complete with steel spikes) and broke into song was “The cheese is high, but the vocals are surprisingly on point.” And so it went through a full (2 hour!) show. Now I don’t speak of cheese to be dismissive, for cheese is a wonderful, life-fulfilling food. And tonight was like a fine brie, aged, a bit dirty and funky, and you can’t help going back for more and enjoying every bit of it.
The guys split the night evenly, each performing two songs, and then moving on to the next guy, for him to sing a few classics that they had a part in, although in large part the songs from Blaze and Ripper were songs from years before they joined the bands they were part of. Tate started things off with “I Don’t Believe in Love” from the classic album ‘Operation: Mindcrime’ and by and large his songs throughout the evening came from that album. And I was struck while listening to him first how good he sounded and clear as he did in 1988, but then how fun and dynamic he was on stage. And tonight this was no small feat, for the crowd was disappointingly small, perhaps 70 people total.
Blaze made a point of mentioning the small crowd size when he came out (point of fact all three mentioned it frequently) and he fervently and with great enthusiasm thanked the crowd for braving the storms (no one felt it necessary to mention that the storm ended yesterday) and for being the true, hardcore fans. He then moved into a series of comments referring to running before launching into a fiery rendition or the Maiden classic “Run to the Hills,” which he followed up by thanking us for being such good troopers for coming out, only to sing “you know where this is going: Trooper!” Cheesy for sure, but he sold it. The man is a born showman, and ran around the stage, shouted for cheers and arm raises the same as he would have for an arena full of fans. He was clearly having a great time, and the crowd, small as it was, was too.
Ripper finally came on for his first solo section, and fittingly enough started with the song which he gained his nickname from, “The Ripper.” He, too, performed enthusiastically, and made several quite humorous and self-deprecating jokes about the number of bands he has managed to be fired from. After he finished, Tate came back and the sequence started over again. I should at this point also sing the praises of their live band, who were very tight throughout the entire evening, handling every solo, break, and moment from the diverse catalogue with equal enthusiasm and aplomb. It was an impressive performance on all fronts.
A major highlight for the crowd was Blaze’s rendition of “Fear of the Dark,” which he handled marvelously not only vocally, but also his lengthy crowd interaction and theatrics. In many ways he stole the show tonight. The show ended with Blaze and Ripper doing a clearly arranged argument over who would sing the next song before breaking into a duet of “Wrathchild,” before Tate did a final solo performance of the final ‘Mindcrime’ song “Eyes of a Stranger.” There was then the requisite wait before the encore. Ripper rather noisily took a guitar from one of the guitarists, the well-rehearsed banter began, and the three joined together to perform the Priest classic “Living After Midnight,” complete with holding the mic stand out over the meager crowd. It was a fitting and over the top close to the night.
The only slight problem tonight, was the vocal mics had issues a few times and when that happened the vocals quickly became lost in the mix, but the mixers fixed the problem quickly every time. It’s also a true crime that so few people came out to see the show. These are guys with tens of millions of fans worldwide, and they put so much energy into the performance it was really a shame. Frankly I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the show. And I found out when I got there my pass had a guest as well, so I picked up a friend of mine who lived 3 blocks away to go with me. He doesn’t listen to any form of metal music and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. I think that speaks volumes for tonight’s quality of these men’s work and charisma.
In short, tonight was a gig that far surpassed my expectations and Trinity put on a performance that any fan of the work of Geoff Tate, Ripper Owens, and Blaze Bayley should rush out to see. All three vocalists soared to the heights of their youth and their enthusiasm was infectious. Blaze said the following when he was doing one of his obvious build ups to sing “Number of the Beast”: “Yeah it’s cheesy, but it’s fun!” Brother, I couldn’t put it any better.