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(Live Review) THE GEOFF TATE BAND - St. Charles, IL, 4/6/24


The Beard & Little Johnny


Greetings friends, fans, and followers. Tonight, your ever on the move Reviewing Duo, (The Beard and Little Johnny), will be attending show #17 and bands #63-64 as we review former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate and his band with support from Fire & Water.

Now, having just seen Queensryche (the band) with singer Todd Latorre do an excellent job in Houston at Hell's Heroes, this represented a wonderful opportunity to review the other side of the coin by seeing the singer (without the original band) doing the songs. How would Tate’s 65-year-old voice hold up with those crazy Queensryche high note songs?


Now, when walking into the Arcada (in St. Charles, IL), the Beard immediately realized to his dismay that his seats were right next to the same couple that last year berated him and said his note taking was “Ruining their concert going experience.” This was said after just watching one of the worst cover bands to ever play at the Arcada. So, at that point I figured it was going to be a long night, and immediately ordered a tall Johnny Walker Black and Coke to prepare myself. Little Johnny laughed uproariously and said, “Sucks to be you Beard..” then wandered back downstairs to the main floor area. Thanks a lot, little dude.


Fortunately, fate made up for this travesty by seating Geoff Tate superfan Jo Ellen directly on my left. This woman had seen either Geoff Tate or Queensryche over fifty times in her life and was happy to talk endlessly about every nuance of her favorite singer. This was both fun and enlightening and very soon the Beard was able to put Mr. & Mrs. Sourpuss out of his mind and get to work enjoying the show while chatting with Jo Ellen, note taking, and shooting pictures and videos. To their credit, the Sourpusses acted like I did not exist. Works for me.

FIRE & WATER      

First up though was the band Fire and Water who were an Irish three-piece family band featuring husband, (vocals, harmonica, and guitar) wife (saxophone), and cousin (guitar). Both the music and the vocals were heavy on effects. So much so that it was really noticeable. Songs mixed traditional Irish with a little Blues. The Beard, (being about half Irish) could get into this at a pub or small event space, but this was NOT a big stage type act.


The final number featured a clever guitar trick that might get by in the early rounds of America’s Got Talent, but again, this was not a mainstream act. That said, for Geoff Tate it is the perfect opening act as it will not in any way detract from him. For the Beard and Little Johnny, it’s a 70/100 if I heard them at an Irish pub but only a 65/100 on a main stage.



 Headlining was Geoff (the long-time voice of Queensryche) Tate. Unlike last week when he only appeared via videotape, Arcada frontman Ron Onesti was here live tonight for “this” act and after some posturing and promoting, on came Geoff Tate.

Tate opened with "Empire". Sporting dark glasses and a cowboy hat (which was so NOT metal) the 65-year-old quickly proved he still had that iconic voice. The crowd was loud and eager to help Tate sing the track. For his out of the box number, I have to say Geoff Tates "Empire" was a better rendition than Todd Latorres was in Houston. Tates’ band were highly skilled musicians, but frankly dressed like they had just come from the Circus. Between Tate’s cowboy hat and the band’s outfits, the costumer should be fired.



Tate followed up with “Desert Dance,” “I Am I,” and “The Thin Line” where he also played saxophone. When did Geoff Tate start playing saxophone? While it may not have been Bobby Keys, Tate was surprisingly good on the horn. (I guess that makes sense since he has been blowing his own horn for about 35 years now.) Tate then moved to three Operation Mindcrime numbers, and like Goldilocks,’ I had three different opinions. “Operation Mindcrime I did not feel was that great. Then “Breaking the Silence was fantastic, and “I don’t believe in Love” was right in the middle because I liked Tate’s vocals, but did not like the backing vocals by the band.

 “Screaming in Digital” and “Walk in the Shadows” were both fun to hear as I had never bought the Rage for Order LP back in the day. He finished the set with three more from Empire. Mega hits “Another Rainy Night,” “Jet City Woman,” & “Silent Lucidity.” While Queensryche (in Houston) had stuck to very early material, there is little doubt Geoff Tate dominates on the Mindcrime & Empire tracks. Even though "Silent Lucidity" was heavily reworked, he’s Geoff Tate and that is HIS song, so he gets to do that without penalty.


Encores were: "Last Time in Paris" (which I confess I was completely unaware of.) Then he performed a cover of Pink Floyd’s "Welcome to the Machine". Seemed an odd choice, but it did provide an opportunity for his band to show off some good musicianship. On "Take Hold of the Flame" I was finally able to make a side-by-side comparison between Tate’s version and La Torres' version. Conclusion, La Torre can probably get his voice higher right now, but Tate remains close and while you can see the effort it takes on La Torres face, Tate still seems to do it almost without effort. (Although with today’s technology he also “could” be lip synching a pre-recorded high note.) Sad we must think that way nowadays, but it is the way of things.


Finishing the encore (and the show) with "Queen of the Ryche" I reached the same conclusion Geoff Tate seemingly “can” still hit the high notes just not over and over and over. Tate at 65 has adopted a Halforesque “pick your spots” approach. He now works around some of the screams and then fully nails others. Once again, I am NOT going to declare whether or not he is “actually” doing it. He gets some leeway because he is Geoff Tate and they are “his” songs vocally.


In the end, Geoff Tate is a 65-year-old man and while I have always felt he was a shade behind Halford and Dio in the pantheon of iconic vocalist, he is still a top ten along with Gillan, Dickenson, Diamond, Lemmy, Ozzy, Turunen, & Hughes and that still puts him ahead of about a million other singers. Grade: 90/100 because he’s Geoff Tate and he still earns it.


As soon as the last number concluded, the Sourpuss couple left without a word, and I did mentally think if I NEVER sit near them again it would still be too soon, but thank you Jo Ellen. Both you and your detailed prolific knowledge of Geoff Tate were a delight.


So, that wraps up yet another show. In hooking up with Little Johnny afterwards I got the view from the front which was. “Okay Beard, that dude can really sing, and the crowd was totally into the show but what’s up with that cowboy hat?" No idea little dude.


Remember to keep up with The Mighty Decibel for all the Metal reviews on Wednesdays and Thursdays, plus a ton of other great shows and podcasts. Keep checking TikTok at thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny for all the video footage, and friend or follow Mark McQueen on Facebook for non-metal reviews and other drop in material.

Until we rock again, this is the Beard & Little Johnny saying ... Stay Heavy & Horns Up!!!!


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