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Geoff Tate Operation: Mindcrime + Mark Daly + Hellion Stone

Saturday 1st December 2018

The Underworld, Camden, London

It's great to be able to get in the thick of it at a gig, and what better place than the Camden Underworld. Often it's smaller less known bands that are playing small venues like this, but at the beginning of December 2018 it's a top draw in the form of Geoff Tate (ex Queensryche) and his year long tour celebrating 30 years of Operation:Mindcrime; indeed that is the name given to his band. Although under the band name Operation: Mindcrime Tate has released three CD's, there was no attempt to play those songs tonight. This gig was to celebrate the great Queensryche era 1988/90.

We have a three act bill tonight and first up is Hellion Stone who describe themselves as "Alternative Groove Metal" and come from Bulgaria. It's an accurate description and they get things moving nicely with a strong show of musicianship. A short set and interval and then it's Irish singer/songwriter Mark Daly who takes the stage. A mixed set of up tempo rockers and some lighter tunes prove that Mark has a varied repertoire and he should build a strong following if he keeps going like this.

The stage is almost completely cleared for the headline act leaving maximum room for everyone to move around. The hospital intro starts rolling for 'Anarchy X', and the crowd cheers as the opening notes of 'Revolution Calling'fill the room. I've got to say that all the way through the sound was good with the vocals coming over very clearly. And that's the point here, we have come mainly to hear the vocals. Tate was amazing 30 years ago and age seems to have done little to reduce his mazing vocal range. Yes, of course there are concessions, but he still delivers a totally compelling performance.

No prizes here for guessing the running order as Operation: Mindcrime is played in its entirety from start to finish. There is no attempt to radically alter anything, and all the backing effects are used throughout. And that's a good thing as it's what folks have come for. Tate certainly gets plenty of vocal support from the crowd throughout the gig and there must have been a few sore throats the next day. It was great to see 'Sister Mary' appear again, this time superbly performed by Tate's daughter Emily. After a brief pause, the band are back to launch into a selection of cuts from the 'Empire' album. 'Best I Can' is followed by 'Empire' and then its a more reflective mood for 'Silent Lucidity'. The gig closes with 'Jet City Woman'.

It's a fantastic show and Tate has some very talented musicians behind him. Veterans rub shoulders with younger members and the enthusiasm and passion from all makes for a memorable event.

Only Tate has the legal rights to play Operation: Mindcrime in its entirety so I guess we may well get to see these performances for a few more years yet. But he's not a one trick pony and other recent gigs have featured alternative setlists. Whatever he plays, next time he's in town I suggest you get along.

Hugh Wilson

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