For millions of Queensryche fans the last five years have gone from sad to angry, frustrated to annoyed, disappointed to indifferent. Left feeling hollow from the departure of Geoff Tate, many lashed out in anger. "Geoff just doesn't have it anymore" and "They haven't done anything good since Promised Land," were common phrases thrown around in 2012. Others felt like they were forced to choose sides. Rumors of every kind surfaced; one week it was the band was back together, the next it was lawsuits and courtroom testimony. When all was said, and done, Queensryche has gone one way and Geoff Tate, another. In 2013, in response to a question about starting and maintaining another long-term band, Tate told a reporter, "I want to work with different groups of people. I want to play with as many great players as I possibly can." Different groups of people and great players is exactly what The Whole Story Tour is about. Geoff is playing a selection of songs from his entire career in an acoustic setting. This is not a revival of Queensryche's 1992 MTV Unplugged performance, this is a more unique and daring endeavor.
While most of the shows on this tour did not have an opening act, the KIMO was fortunate enough to have opening the show, Albuquerque's Steve Beneath of the three-piece southern metal band, THE GROUND BENEATH. Playing solo tonight, Steve gave the audience a skillful acoustic performance, that demonstrated his versatility as a musician, and his sense of humor that, at times was as subtle and brilliant as his guitar playing. Steve, with his friendly good nature, entertained the audience with a short, but very impressive set.
After a brief intermission, with a stage that looked far too depleted of equipment for a concert, Geoff Tate took the stage accompanied by four "great players", Kieran Robertson and Scott Moughton on guitars, Evan Kleve on violin, and Ollie Jordan-Kelly on the cajon. They opened with the Queensryche classics, "Walk in The Shadows" followed by "Another Rainy Night (Without You)." I have had the pleasure and good fortune to see Queensryche perform these songs several times. Never had I heard them done like this, however. Geoff Tate left no doubt as to why he remains one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. Frequently with a standard acoustic set, it often feels like the band is holding back. Not the case with these guys at all. They played with a confidence of skill that transformed the very well-known songs into an entirely new experience.
In the intimate venue, Geoff Tate and the band performed "35 years of music, in about two hours." "Some People Fly", "Jet City Woman" and even a touch of Nashville country jamboree, after Geoff told a story of being in Tennessee, recording an album, and meeting the Man in Black, himself, Johnny Cash. The night was filled with songs that have special meaning to us all, "Chasing Blue Sky", "Bridge", "Until There Was You", "Out of Mind", and "Silent Lucidity". Even getting to hear the OPERATION: MINDCRIME tune, "The Fight." Geoff talked of the difficulty of the music business and the effect that MTV had on Queensryche. Despite having toured for several months with DEF LEPPARD and several more with METALLICA, their 1987 release Operation: Mindcrime, had not sold well. When MTV praised the record, and asked for a video to be made with the promise to air it in heavy rotation, which they did, album sales, in just a mere couple of weeks went gold, then quickly platinum. Geoff pondered, "Why the hell did we tour all that time?" Tate went on to say that throughout his career he has played in sixty-five countries. He was excited to get news that he was finally going to play Lima, having never played in Peru before, until his hopes were dashed by the realization that he would be performing in Lima, Ohio, not Peru. The set included other songs inspired by different events. "Blood", "Take Hold of the Flame", and "The Lady Wore Black".
Upon entering the KIMO Theater and seeing Geoff's daughter, Emily Tate behind the merchandise table, I thought maybe we would be treated to father and daughter's duet of "Home Again" from the American Soldier record. Instead Geoff told the story of how his step-father, who he considers his dad, would never open up and speak of his time in the military, no matter how much he was asked. Until 40 years later when unexpectedly, his dad started telling of his experiences, inspiring Geoff to write the song "Hundred Mile Stare" and culminating with the album American Soldier.
Playing two thirty-year-old favorites, "I Don't Believe in Love" and "Eyes of a Stranger", Geoff talked about all the years gone by and how the times and the body changes, in particular, hair loss, joking with Ollie Jordan-Kelly, that he too, will one day know the pain. Although probably not for quite some time yet. Conversely, Geoff tugged at everyone's heartstrings when telling the story of being in Germany and getting off a train and stepping right into a refugee camp. He told of the displaced people there, in the middle of winter, freezing, and scared; of a small boy, in a t-shirt and shorts. Geoff wanted to help the kid by giving him the jacket he was wearing, only to have the boy react by cowering and covering his face with his hands, terrified. Geoff remarked that he is not the smartest guy in the world, but he writes songs with the hope that the smart people will come together to find solutions for a better life for everyone.
With that level of humility and grace and with a stellar band, playing flawlessly, Geoff Tate played a fantastic rendition of DROPKICK MURPHYS "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" leading into the show closer, "Around the World".
It was a truly awe-inspiring show. The sound was great, the band played beautifully, and the voice was as strong as ever. The only unfortunate thing was that the turnout was small. Especially for as many Queensryche fans that I know to live in the area. They missed one hell of a fantastic show. I sincerely hope you are all reading this right now and are kicking yourselves for not going. If any of you would remedy your mistake, or if you are in a city that is on the tour, THE WHOLE STORY TOUR is running into April. You don't have much time left, but I assure you it is a performance that you do not want to miss.