By Val Tapia, BADS Contributing Writer
I’ll say one thing about Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. If nothing else, it definitely brings back plenty of great memories for me of past shows I attended.
While I was walking around the lounge area, I was taking in all the memorabilia on the venue’s walls. From signed guitars to album covers to old ticket stubs, it’s hard not to grin from ear-to-ear seeing this in one spot.
In point of fact, the first concert I saw at the Celebrity was Queensryche during the Rage For Order tour in October 1986. Keel and Black N’ Blue opened the show.
Fast forward to 2022, and now former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate has taken the solo route since 2012. On the outside looking in, Tate seems to be happy and in a good place these days. Good to see that I might add.
That was most apparent on Fri. Dec. 9 when Tate took the Celebrity stage for the first time (as a solo artist) since August 2013. My guess is about 400 people turned out for this show. Thankfully, the stage didn’t revolve. Frankly, I find that so-called “legendary” rotating stage annoying. But I digress.
Tate’s current band consists of guitarists Kieran Robertson, Alex Hart, and James Brown alongside bassist Jack Ross, keyboardist Bruno Sa, and drummer Danny Laverde.
Hitting the stage at 9:20 p.m. Tate and the band opened the show with two back-to-back songs (Empire and Another Rainy Night, respectively) from Queensryche’s biggest-selling album, 1990’s Empire.
It should be noted that the brief 17-song, 90-minute set set featured nothing but Queensryche songs— with one exception I contend. More on that later.
Next up was Desert Dance from 2003’s Tribe. From that album, I think Open or Blood would’ve been better picks. But that’s just me.
Tate then introduces I Am I, a song from arguably the last truly great Queensryche album of their career, 1994’s Promised Land. Most recording artists with a sizable catalog usually have what’s referred to in the music biz as a “dark horse” album, or “lost classic” if you like. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that Promised Land could easily be that— Queensryche’s lost classic.
One song from 1999’s Q2K made the set called Sacred Ground. Then it was back to Empire for Best I Can, followed by Real World (one of Tate’s favorite Queensryche songs ever) from the soundtrack to a terrible 1993 movie called The Last Action Hero. Honestly, what was the band thinking?
Of course, a current Geoff Tate show wouldn’t be complete without a song or two from Queensryche’s 1988 magnum opus Operation: mindcrime. Unfortunately, Breaking The Silence and I Don’t Believe In Love sounded merely… okay.
In this writer’s humble opinion, nobody on the planet can reproduce this material live other than the five original members (DeGarmo, Jackson, Rockenfield, Tate, and Wilton) of Queensryche. Period.
Earlier I mentioned there was one song played in the set that wasn’t Queensryche— so to speak. Cold from 2013’s Frequency Unknown received a surprisingly decent response from the crowd. Problem is, that album should’ve never been released as a Queensryche album.
In other words, if Frequency Unknown went out as a Tate solo album proper (because that’s exactly what it is), it probably would’ve been more accepted among Tate’s (and Queensryche’s) fan base at the time of release. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Back to more familiar territory onstage, Walk In The Shadows and Take Hold Of The Flame pretty much bring the house down without fail. However, the latter song (which was slightly rearranged) sounded awful. Sorry.
The main set concluded with an excellent version of Bridge from Promised Land. Of course, Jet City Woman and Silent Lucidity can’t be ignored.
For the encore, the band did an uptempo version of the holiday classic Silver Bells, then took things back to the beginning with Queen Of The Reich to conclude the night. Overall, it was a pretty solid show.
I’ll give Tate’s Big Rock Show Hits tour 3.5 out of five stars. It’s worth a night out, although I would’ve preferred a 20-song set (or two hour set minimum). Perhaps next time that will be rectified.
Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved
Geoff Tate Setlist:
Another Rainy Night (Without You)
I Am I
Best I Can
Breaking the Silence
I Don’t Believe in Love
Walk in the Shadows
Take Hold of the Flame
Jet City Woman
Queen of the Reich
Joining Geoff Tate on this tour is Irish rock musician Mark Daly. Mark Daly & The Ravens, the band that plays with him live, include Mark Daly (rhythm guitar, lead vocals), James Brown (lead guitar, backing vocals), Jack Ross (bass guitar), Alex Hart (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Daniel Laverde (drums).
Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved