Geoff Tate played two classic Queensryche albums back-to-back on Monday, November 22, 2021, at The Depot in Salt Lake City, Utah. When Queensryche began back in the early ’80s, there was always something that separated them from the hair bands of The Sunset Strip. The obvious difference would be that Queensryche was based in Seattle, Washington, 1,100 miles from The Sunset Strip. While hair bands used sex, drugs, and rock and roll as the basis for many of the lyrics, Tate and Queensryche often used darker undertones musically with some politically laced lyrics. Musically, they had a very progressive sound, which was the opposite of much of the popular music at the time. When Tate and Queensryche split ways in 2012, it was uncertain whether fans would ever hear some of the classics again live.
Rage For Order turns 35 this year, and Empire is 31. Both albums are celebrated by fans differently, and each marks a turning point for the band.
There was no better way to celebrate those albums than hearing them in their entirety by the man who made them classics. Geoff Tate brought a band of musicians with him from all over the world to help honor these albums. The setlists were set; there was no wondering what would be next.
Rage For Order was first, and “Walk in the Shadows” was first up. From the first lyrics Tate belted out, it was apparent that he had spent much of 2020 taking care of his voice. The band also played the songs as they were originally recorded back in 1986. “Gonna Get Close to You” was one of the first songs I heard as a kid, and it instantly drew me to the band. Hearing the song live brought back memories of seeing the video on MTV. Ironically the hair that Tate sported back then is no more, as is it for most of us. As the show continued, so did my amazement at how well Tate sounded. “Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)” is another song that, when played live, brought back memories of a time when we all were trying to navigate life. “Screaming in Digital” and “I Will Remember” closed out Rage For Order, where a short intermission began.
Act II began with the introduction to “Best I Can.” A song that is inspiring from any aspect as it highlights the strengths of overcoming a handicap. As “The Thin Line” began, Tate adorned a saxophone. Things then speed back up for “Jet City Woman.” As the album continued through “Another Rainy Night (Without You)” and “Empire,” it became pretty apparent that Empire was statistically a more successful album. Especially as Tate broke into the most successful song in Queensryche’s catalog, “Silent Lucidity.” It brought the crowd’s voices alive as they sang to the chorus of the song in unison. “Hand On Heart” and “One and Only” continued the tail end of the album, which ended with possibly one of my favorite Queensryche songs; “Anybody Listening?” Lyrically, the song brought a new sense of self-awareness to me and taught me to question anything I disagreed with.
“Is there anybody listening?
Is there anyone that sees what’s going on?
Read between the lines
Criticize the words they’re selling
Think for yourself and feel the walls
Become sand beneath your feet.”
The song ended, and I was not expecting anymore, but after a short break, the band was back out to play a b-side from Empire. “Last Time in Paris” was a song that easily could have been a hit if given more chance. Catchy lyrics and a nice beat made it a great piece for an encore. The show ended with a song fitting for 2021. “Take Hold of the Flame” left the crowd feeling a sense of normalcy.
When it comes to a commercially successful album, Empire would win hands down. That being said, musically, Rage For Order is such a masterpiece. Regardless, being able to hear both albums back to back in their entirety was a treat that may never happen again. If you get a chance, see this show! It will not disappoint, and you will get to hear two excellent albums live.