It is a perfect Melbourne night as hundreds of punters stream into The Croxton Bandroom to see the most recognisable voice in progressive metal – Geoff Tate. It has been a few years since Geoff was here performing what is arguably the greatest concept album of all, Operation Mindcrime, in its entirety. Tonight’s offering was, Rage for Order and Empire, back-to-back which would be a sin to miss. The fans certainly voted with their hard earned, coming along for a night that knew no musical boundaries. Melbourne is the first stop for the tour and what a privilege to be the first to get our live music deprived ears acquainted with Mr Tate yet again. I took my spot front and centre and settled in for what would be a mind-blowing assault on the senses and God damn was I ready!
Opening the nights proceedings were Melbourne four-piece metal outfit, Demonhead. After playing with Geoff in Europe late last year it was a given that they would get the coveted opening slot. I was instantly impressed with their ripping riffs and arse-kicking sound. They gave us a quick fire set of seven songs, each delivered with a new gut punch. It was clear from the moment they started they had fans in the crowd, lots of heads nodding in approval and singing along. Lead singer Dave was engaging with the crowd and certainly held their attention. Their sound is a good mix of thrash and your traditional metal, so if that is your thing go check them out. I picked up the vinyl edition of their latest offering Black Devil Lies on my way home and cannot wait to give it a spin!
The Croxton Bandroom was now buzzing with electricity, the voices were a little louder, the people a little sweatier as we counted the minutes until show time. The stage awash with a huge backdrop baring the name of the man himself Geoff Tate. As the house lights dropped the roar was deafening as the band took to the stage. It was the same line up as the Mindcrime show with only one new addition, Danny Laverde on Drums, who kept the show running like clockwork, never missing a beat. Let’s explore the rest of the band, they may be young, but they are seasoned professionals and have Geoff’s sound down to perfection. James Brown was on lead guitar shredding up a storm, Kieran Robertson, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland was a pocket rocket, he looked like a rock star and worked the stage like one. With funky hair, tattoos, and tight pants he was the epitome of cool and left no corner of the stage uncovered. My goodness, Jack Ross, also from Scotland, lit up the stage with his smile. Thoroughly enjoying every minute of his live time slapping his bass to within an inch of its life. Nothing was overlooked on this tour, the lighting was top notch, the sound impeccable, kudos to all involved.
Enter the man, the myth, the legend, Geoff Tate, jumping straight into Rage for Order in its entirety. I asked Geoff ‘why Rage?’ in our last interview and his answer was “because I really wanted to” and I cannot think of a better reason. He worked through this dark album with such gusto and feeling, his voice in phenomenal form, never faltering all night, still hitting the high notes as he did in his prime. Stand outs for me from this album were Walk In The Shadows, Gonna Get Close to You, Surgical Strike and Screaming In Digital, but who am I kidding, every song was a stand out! To hear it from start to finish was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad I was a part of making history in Melbourne. Geoff looked the epitome of cool in his patterned gold jacket, glasses and black Fedora, the hat coming on and off unlike the glasses which stayed tightly affixed all night.
After a short interval Geoff and the band were back, looking refreshed, sporting new threads and a new attitude. You could sense the darkness of Rage for Order had been checked at the door and the uplifting sounds of Empire were coming in hot. Geoff had a spring in his step as he launched into Best I Can, the crowd were lifting, and I could feel them creeping into my space, adrenaline pushing them forward wanting to get closer to their idol. Jet City Woman had the punters raising their voices to greet Geoff with a proper Melbourne sing-a-long and it did not go unnoticed. With no setlists needed Geoff joked when it was time to play Empire that he couldn’t remember the next song and asked us to remind him. We happily obliged as Geoff launched into the title track that set The Croxton alight. The masterpiece that is Silent Lucidity saw phone torches out and fans swaying while they sang, Geoff’s voice absolute perfection. Hand on Heart, One and Only and the amazing Anybody Listening? saw out Empire but still left us wanting more, all hungry for just ‘one more song’.
It didn’t take much chanting to bring the stage back to life and the familiar intro of Eyes of a Stranger had the band room in a frenzy. My singing voice was diminishing more by the second, could there be one more in the tank, we are all hopeful as screams rang out, and after a quick convo with the band they dive into Queen of The Reich almost raising the roof in the process, a definite fan favourite and perfect choice to finish out the night. Geoff’s screams hit with precision, each one delivered with chilling satisfaction, there was no place I would rather be, and I soaked up every second letting the songs of my youth wash over me feeling contentment radiating from within.
With bows and waves goodbye from all, we were left to contemplate the enormity of what we had just witnessed, and I for one was already contemplating what albums might be next when we see Mr Tate return to our Australian shores.
You can still catch Geoff Tate one more time for this tour in Adelaide.
Thursday 10th Feb 2023 @ The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets available here