Geoff Tate, the original lead singer for Queensryche, brought his band Operation: Mindcrime to the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on August 17th. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their namesake record, Tate and his current band played the breakthrough album in its entirety for a ravenous Canyon Club crowd. Operation: Mindcrime catapulted Queensryche into the stratosphere, priming the engines for the jump into orbit with 1990’s Empire.
The evening begins with one of the Canyon’s stable of openers. Guitar & Whiskey Club, a local five piece unit, blasts out a 30 minute set of hard rock classics. Jeffrey Donovan and Seen Robinson trade leads on guitar through hits like Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies and Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. The bottom and rhythm are synced nicely on The Babys’ Head First by Scott Smith on bass and Bob Sickels on drums. The group seems to be having a great time playing through the 70’s and 80’s radio rockers. Vocalist Jennifer Wylde captures a good deal of the attention with her impartation of testosterone-laden lyrics, presented with a feminine sex appeal.
The intermediary act for the evening is a quartet out of San Jose, California; Madman’s Lullaby. They utilize their 30 minutes or so to present an all original set of hard rock that borders on metal, but never breaches the envelope. Vocalist Chris Michaels prowls the stage, imploring the crowd with posturing and hand gestures. Drummer Eric Arbizu adds punch to the sound with a hard-hitting style. Bassist Luis Barillas entertains with contorted facial expressions. Brett (Mr. Brett) MacMillan on guitar performs proficient riffs and solos somewhat mysteriously from behind the brim of his eye-concealing hat. Madman’s Lullaby turns in a good set, even if there is not much unique about them. They will be touring the U.K. in October in support of their latest release, Sins of Greed on Melodic Rock Records.
When Tate and company hit the stage, there is no doubt as to whom the crowd came to see. The crowd presses toward the front of the standing room area. These rapacious fans throw their fists and bounce forward and backward as they sing along to each word that proceedeth from the mouth of Tate. Operation:Mindcrime may not be the most successful Queensryche release, but it soon becomes apparent that this one resonates with people.
The tri decadal celebration performance is delivered by a group, half of whom by appearance were not even born when the album was released. Scottish guitarist Kieran Robertson, drummer Josh Watts and bassist Jack Ross comprise the youth contingent of the band. Musical veterans guitarist Scott Moughton and guitarist/keyboardist Bruno Sa round out the supporting cast. They collectively roll through each song from the celebrated record. The instrumental side of the production is well-played, with guitar tone and backing vocals true to the signature Queensryche sound. Tate’s voice is at ease, going from a Kenny Rogers type groan into an Ann Wilson type high note inside of the same word, a vocal range that few others possess, and perhaps nobody else in the rock arena.
Tate emphasizes his iterations with playful gesticulation as he weaves the lyrical story of a man’s remembrance of addiction, mind manipulation and unwitting participation in political assassinations. The faithful in attendance drown out Tate’s voice in Revolution Calling. The retelling culminates in the haunting Eyes of a Stranger, in which the main character stares at himself in the mirror and is unfamiliar with whom he sees. When all is said and done, Tate and his cohorts wrap up a tour-de-force 30 years in the making for the few hundred fellow revolutionaries in attendance.
The encore is a four song set of tunes from Empire, starting with Best I Can. The meat of the encore is the two monsters Silent Lucidity and Jet City Woman. Capping off the evening is the title track from the triple-platinum record. Perhaps Tate will treat the world to a complete recounting of the 1990 blockbuster in a few years.
CLICK HERE to view more pics of OPERATION: MINDCRIME from the show.
CLICK HERE to view more pics of MADMAN’S LULLABY from the show.
CLICK HERE to view more pics of GUITAR & WHISKEY CLUB from the show.