GEOFF TATE, 9 March 2023
With Leksi

Venue: Utopia, Turku

It's pretty rare that we get to see international hard rock or metal acts in Turku. Last week we had a rare opportunity for that, when the legendary vocalist GEOFF TATE and his band played at Utopia Club. The concert was a celebration of the two classic QUEENSRYCHE albums "Rage For Order" and "Empire", which were both played in their entirety. In the ads for the gig, the band names on the album covers were changed to "Geoff Tate", possibly for legal reasons.

The support act was a band called LEKSI. I had no previous knowledge of them, apart from the couple of tunes I sampled from Spotify before the gig. Their website states that they're a "Pop-Rock-Prog collective led by Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist and Producer Alex "Leksi" Hart". I was more reminded of the 90's acts such as Creed and Pearl Jam, with some prog overtones. Excellent musicianship and good vocals from Alex Hart, but the songs weren't particulary memorable. They were short and precise though and the set was well structured.

Three of the Leksi guys returned to the stage with Geoff Tate - guitarist James Brown, bassist Jack Ross and Drummer Daniel Laverde. The Geoff Tate band was rounded by guitarist Kieran Robertson.

The first part of the show featured the album "Rage For Order" (1986). A "dark, brooding and futuristic" album is how people described it back then, according to Tate. Sure enough, it was ahead of its' time and still sounds contemporary today.

The band sounded good, and so did Mr. Tate. Many 80's metal vocalists are mere shadows of what they used to be, but I think Tate can still do justice to these songs. My ears aren't trained enough to tell whether the songs were played in their original keys, probably not but it didn't make that much of a difference. Tate's expressive, theatrical way of delivering vocals was entertaining and made up for the notes he didn't hit. Both guitarists provided good backing vocals.

The album was played in its' original sequence, starting with the great "Walk In The Shadows". I was taking photos during the first three tracks so I was a bit distracted, but they sounded good. So did the haunting "Gonna Get Close To You", where the band had a bit of a choreography thing going.

One of the best recieved tracks of the Rage-set was "Surgical Strike", an old-school metal track introduced as one that didn't really fit the theme of the album. Tate dedicated the song to the people in Ukraine.

For my money, the set ran out of steam towards the end, but so does the album. The "hits" are mostly on the first half.

"EMPIRE" (1990) then... it's difficult to follow a masterpiece, in this case "Operation: Mindcrime". Queensryche did it pretty well, and released their biggest album ever, with a major hit single in "Silent Lucidity", #9 on the Billboard Hot100 and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart.

The album contains some of my favourite 'Ryche tracks such as "Another Rainy Night Without You", "Best I Can" and "Empire", which I was happy to hear live. Then again, the album is very long and a few of the songs I have never really cared about. I'm glad to say that most of those songs worked okay live, maybe except for "Della Brown", which is, well... a bit boring. The live rendition of "Silent Lucidity" wasn't really great either, thanks to the rumbling bass and loud guitars the vocals were somewhat drowned and the delicate nature of the song was thrown out of the window.

Tate's been known to whip out a saxophone every now and then, and for "The Thin Line" he did that. Not something you usually see at metal concerts, and at times one could even hear the instrument.

After well over two hours and the two albums played back to back, the crowd still wanted more. I was hoping for something from "Mindcrime", but instead we went all the way to the beginning and "Queen Of The Reich", the band's first video track from their debut EP. Not a bad choice, and the crowd went crazy!

The Utopia club was pretty packed on a thursday night, which is a good sign. Maybe organizers will be some other international hard rock acts to our area, knowing that people are still interested in live music. I know it's not that simple, but I truly hope that it will happen.

Review and photos by Kimmo Toivonen

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