When it comes to history’s most iconic albums, Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime has reigned supreme in the hard rock/heavy metal conscience for 31 years. It’s gotten to the point where both existing factions of the band — Queensryche featuring replacement vocalist Todd La Torre and Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime — could play it in its entirety whenever they visit San Antonio, and no one would cry themselves a river.
The original voice on that concept album, Tate returned to the Rock Box last Sunday night and played it all the way through for the fourth time since 2013, and second time in 14 months (last year’s coverage here). And while the performance was similar every time, save for a couple of rare instances on this night where Tate may not have sounded as clean as in previous performances (but is still better than 90 percent of the vocalists out there), the method to the madness was different.
Last weekend was supposed to see the seventh annual River City Rockfest turning the Alamo City and AT&T Center grounds into the mecca of metal for two days. Instead, the festival was canceled in early summer, of which Tate was supposed to be a part playing an approximately 45-minute set. That meant he wouldn’t have had time to play Mindcrime in its entirety. But when the festival got axed, and Tate was offered a chance to return on his own, he swept up the opportunity with Irish guitarist/singer Mark Daly and locals Gandhi’s Gun, Hellgrimm and The Steel Soldiers providing support (see 37-photo slideshow of the three main acts below).
In 2014, Tate told ATM “the past is over” and that he was “definitely ready to move on from” Mindcrime. But he also conceded Mindcrime is what promoters buy and, in perhaps the understatement of 2014 that still applies in 2019, “Mindcrime is a very successful tour” (watch below).
Once again, Tate was backed by Canadian guitarist Scott Moughton, Scottish guitarist Kieran Robertson — who’s also the boyfriend of Tate’s daughter Emily Tate, who fronts Till Death Do Us Part with Robertson on guitar — and bassist “Smilin’ “ Jack Ross while being joined for the first time by Brendan Bell on drums. Tate even had longtime guitarist Kelly Gray in the house watching as a fan. Tate whipped through Side 1 of the album before offering his patented, “Shall we continue” prior to “The Needle Lies,” “Breaking the Silence” and the rest of the record (ATM footage below).
Perhaps because it was a Sunday night, Tate limited his encore to just “Silent Lucidity.” But while he visits San Antonio on an annual basis and even sometimes multiple times in one year, a return next spring might be even more exciting given that Tate will be playing all of 1986’s Rage For Order and 1990’s Empire each evening. For the first time in ages, Tate will be performing tunes such as “Gonna Get Close to You,” “I Will Remember,” “Hand On Heart” and “Anybody Listening?”
Daly, a southpaw acoustic guitarist, and his band made their first visit from Ireland to a crowd that was on the verge of becoming restless after three local openers in waiting for Tate. But with the exception of a couple of sarcastic apples in the crowd, Daly seemed to please if not impress the majority of the roughly 500 in attendance with his brand of rock.
Gandhi’s Gun, meanwhile, has opened for Tate and the other version of Queensryche on multiple occasions. That included Saturday night’s show with Queensryche in Cedar Park six days after warming things up for Tate. These eyes and ears have seen and listened to Gandhi’s Gun play in front of 10 people on a Sunday night at Boozehounds and open for Tate at the Aztec Theatre, and of course Sunday at the Rock Box. They’ve also made San Antonio proud by playing the Whisky on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip and filming a video there, and the band lived up to its energy again (watch “Broken” below).
The night concluded a back-to-back exhibition of Rockfest spillovers, with Jinjer having headlined the Rock Box’s Vibes Event Center the night before (coverage here). The shows bookended a long and tiring, but fruitful, weekend for Rock Box owners Micaela and Steve Rodriguez and their staff, not only making sure things ran smoothly for both shows, but simply getting the venue ready for Tate after Jinjer and its support acts nearly sold out the Vibes.
It may not have been the weekend that could have been. But for new-schoolers and old-schoolers alike, it delivered what fans came to hear.