As long as there exists the original voice of one of rock's most iconic albums, and he's willing to sing it in its entirety, San Antonians will always turn out to hear it live. Even if the rest of the original band has dissolved.
Move over, death and taxes. You have company in the "guaranteed" department. The latest performance of Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime came Friday night at the Aztec Theatre when Geoff Tate brought a mostly unheard-of version of his band of the same name to a packed-to-the-rafters Aztec Theatre.
Never mind that Queensryche said after the release of 1991's Operation: Livecrime that tour would be the only time fans would hear the album completely played. Or that the band played it in 2006 at the Majestic Theatre back-to-back with that year's Operation: Mindcrime II, complete with a theatrical representation of both. Or that the group released the 2007 double live Mindcrime at The Moore from its hometown of Seattle. Or even that Tate used an outdoor show at HemisFair Park in 2013 and one of his two Aztec visits in 2014 to celebrate the album's 25th anniversary.
This time, the 30th-year commemoration came four years after Tate told ATM, and other outlets, "The past is over" and that he was not as enthused about playing Queensryche's older, seminal material because he was focused on evolving as an artist (watch here). Friday's show also came with Tate fielding an entirely different lineup of international musicians from those two Aztec concerts.
But with Tate behind the mic, and singing as impressively as usual, none of that mattered. Neither did the fact that the previous Alamo City performance of Mindcrime came with the likes of Austin native John Moyer of Disturbed on bass, former Hurricane guitarist Robert Sarzo and drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, The Dead Daisies). This time, a roster of 20-somethings such as guitarist Kieran Robertson of Scotland, bassist Jack Ross of Scotland and drummer Josh Watts of England joined keyboardist/guitarist Bruno Sa of Brazil and Canadian Scott Moughton on guitar. Moughton, in fact was the only member of Tate's band here for his previous visit Feb. 20, 2016, at Alamo City Music Hall.
Despite the band being unknown, it was enthusiastically accepted by the Aztec's contingent. Even with Live Nation and the venue giving away its share of tickets, the turnout was just as impressive as the performance especially considering The Black Dahlia Murder and Whitechapel were co-headlining a two-stage concert at The Rock Box with Fleshgod Apocalypse.
And Tate wasn't the only member of his family on stage.
Emily Tate, who sang the father/daughter "Home Again" duet from the American Soldier album in 2007 at Sunken Garden Theater, now fronts Till Death Do Us Part. Wasting little time in telling the audience she is "Geoff's daughter" -- following opening track "Watch Me Burn" -- Emily Tate and her band were allotted a seven-song set after local openers Gandhi's Gun.
It may also have been one of the few times in rock history the opening act received the same amount of stage space as the headliners. Such affordability confused some in the audience, who were waiting for Geoff Tate's band to take the stage after 9 p.m., only to discover Till Death Do Us Part was going to take advantage of the wealth of room. The group also featured Ross and Robertson making their first appearances of the night before eventually pulling double duty in the latest rendition of the band Operation: Mindcrime. Robertson went so far as to sprint with his guitar from one side of the stage to the other twice over, propelling his leg off the wall before heading the other way. Robertson is also the boyfriend of Emily Tate, and the two joined together on third song "Cannon Ball."
After approximately a 30-minute break, Geoff Tate's band came out (55-photo slideshow below). The smooth-singing vocalist made his way onto the stage by strutting into "Revolution Calling." Tate and his new mates continued all the way through to the completion of Side 1 (yes, the album hearkens back memories of cassette days) and "Suite Sister Mary," with Emily playing the song's namesake (ATM footage below). Geoff Tate's first spoken words to the crowd came next to a roar of approval before he matter-of-factly asked, "Shall we continue?"
With that, "The Needle Lies" provided Tate's shortest tune yet most splendid performance when he held the final "cries your naaaaaame" for roughly 20 seconds. Of course, "I Don't Believe in Love" and "Eyes of a Stranger" (ATM footage here) provided more highlights and satiated those stuck in the past of Queensryche's catalog.
As he also did in 2014 and 2013, Tate ended the night with four tracks from Queensryche's biggest-selling album, 1990's Empire: "Best I Can," "Silent Lucidity" (ATM Facebook Live video here)," the title track and finale "Jet City Woman." The total package had the audience of mostly 40 and 50-year-olds enjoying their trip down Memory Lane. It was a far cry from Tate's Thanksgiving Eve solo gig in 2012 outside Backstage Live when fans walked out dissatisfied with his playing of solo material even though he played more Queensryche songs than solo ones. Fans were even leaving during "The Killing Words" from 1986's Rage for Order -- proof they weren't as knowledgeable of his complete material as they should've been.
That wasn't an issue Friday night. Considering one of rock's most influential records, one in which vocalist and most listeners can recite in their sleep, was performed, that was as much a given as death, taxes . . . and Dr. X telling Nikki to kill Mary.