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Geoff Tate Blows Minds in Toronto

Geoff Tate performs live at The El Mocambo. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Toronto, Canada - Growing up as a teenager in the mid to late 1980s, music was life. More specifically, we were pushing the boundaries of heavy metal, and a great friend of mine, Jon (whom I'm happy to still call a friend after all these years) seemed to have a knack of finding new bands for us to feast our young and impressionable ears upon.

In 1991, during one of our many visits to Jon's basement, he said "Check this out!". He stuck a VHS tape into his VCR, and synced it perfectly with a CD he blasted out of his stereo speakers. It was true stereo sound, from his TV, coming out of his audio system. At the time, I don't know if the technology really existed to just hook your VCR up to your stereo. Perhaps it was, but it would have been far beyond our affordability at the time. Jon's "creation" however was brilliant, and we were now listening, and watching a band called Queensryche. The video and CD were a live recording of their 1991 tour Operation: Live Crime, from their 1988 smash recording Operation: Mindcrime.

Up to this point, I had not heard of Queensryche, but my buddy was all over it! The band had that groovy, classic rock/metal vibe but the element that made the band stand out was the vocals of then frontman Geoff Tate. His vocal range was only matched by the greats like Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford.

Sadly, after a reported dispute about band merchandising, things seemed to go south for the lead singer and his relationship with the band. In 2012, Queensryche fired the vocalist, some legal battles ensued and things were eventually settled out of court, but Tate lost the legal right to use the band's name. After a couple solo records, and new bands "Operation: Mindcrime" and "Sweet Oblivion", Geoff Tate finds himself on the road in a solo run that started on February 22 in Miami. On April 3, Tate headed north of the border for his lone Canadian date at Toronto's El Mocambo, and we were totally gassed to be there to bring you the coverage!


Fire and Water perform live at The El Mocambo. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Along for the ride on this run with Geoff Tate and his band is a trio of Irish musicians called Fire and Water. This isn't new territory for this family 3-piece however, as they have toured with Geoff Tate previously. In 2015, the band joined Tate during his European Tour, and they clearly made an impression on the ex-Queensryche frontman, as here they are again!

Tomas McCarthy of Fire and Water. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Consisting of the husband and wife team of Tomas McCarthy on vocals and guitars, and Clódagh Kearney on saxophone and vocals, along with cousin Stephen Manning on guitar and vocals, this trio was dynamic! McCarthy's voice is deep and gravelly. Kearney's sultry saxophone, and heavenly vocals are true music. Manning's drumming on his guitar body keeps the beat, and also joins in the mix with his own singing that is also very baritone. Tie it all together with bluesy, soulful undertones, mixed with classic Irish fair about drinking too much, and it was easy to see how they impressed the man they are touring with.

The final track of the band's set was a banger, with McCarthy playing and banging a laid flat guitar, held by his life partner. He uses a zippo lighter along the 6-string, and also uses his microphone stand as a makeshift guitar slide. Very cool, and and one of the best opening acts I have seen in a very long time. And with tonight's headliner, Fire and Water also left a massive impression on the Toronto faithful in attendance. And I was one of them!


Geoff Tate performs live at The El Mocambo. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

As I look around tonight's venue, I can't help but think "Wow! Look at this intimate venue!! I can't believe Geoff Tate is about to hit the stage before us. We could practically reach out and touch him, yet 20 years ago, he was playing arena sized venues." I think it is such a cool feeling to be so close to artists like him. Yes, just a regular guy, but super cool nonetheless.

As the house lights go down, the band begins to appear before us, one by one as they head onto the stage, lead by drummer Daniel Laverde. After 3 guitarists, and a bass player, Geoff Tate arrives, decked all in black, including his black cowboy hat. The band opens the show with the 1990 track "Empire" form the Queensryche album of the same name. Tate is immediately on his game. I don't know why, but I'm always amazed at these singers that have such a huge vocal range, can still belt them out as they age into their 60s. Tate has already turned 65 this year, yet he literally sounds 35 years younger. The rest of the band follows suit, and the stage is set!

For the band's 4th track, Tate straps on a saxophone and the band transitions into "The Thin Line". With 4 songs under their belt, and the crowd sucked into the atmosphere, Tate welcomes them, telling them it's been far too long. "The world has changed a lot since 2017" he says. I can't believe it's been that long since the singer has played Toronto. That's 7 long years, albeit 3 or 4 of those were eaten up with a dirty pandemic. "Tonight we're going to play them all" he says. "How about some Operation: Mindcrime??" and the crowd erupts as the band rolls into the track. It's one of the first songs my buddy Jon played for me 33 years ago. Tate's voice is superb as he hits all the high notes.

Geoff Tate's Band performing live in Toronto. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

A real highlight of the night for me was the band's 8th track, the futuristaccly accurate "NM156" from Queensryche's 1984 debut album The Warning. The track's guitar intro was hit square on, an evil voice altered spoken word bridge, dual guitar solos, and flashing lights is the epitome of what makes a fantastic rock concert. After the band transitions right into "Screaming in Digital", Tate tells the audience that he loves playing those 2 tracks back to back. He talks about how the songs were written in a different time (almost 40 years ago), but that they are still relevant today. He then goes on to talk about how great the 80s were. For all you young'uns, this is not just old man talk. It actually happens to be true. "Care to take a walk with me?" the singer asks. "A walk in the shadows??" The track has such a great groove. The band is tight, and Tate's vocals are spot on!

The stage is quite small here for the 6 member group, and even during the encore, a 4th guitarist joins the fray. But despite the limited space, the band does an amazing job of moving around, switching places, joining their mates on the other side, and keeping engaged. It's not a stand around affair. Tate even mention the size of the stage saying that it's a little weird and that he's used to playing much bigger stages. But the El Mocambo is a legendary venue. He's always wanted to play here, because everybody has. And now he can add his name to the list.

Set List


Desert Dance

I Am I

The Thin Line

Operation: Mindcrime

Breaking the Silence

I Don't Believe in Love


Screaming in Digital

Walk in the Shadows

Another Rainy Night (Without You)

Jet City Woman

Silent Lucidity



Welcome to the Machine - Pink Floyd cover

Take Hold of the Flame

Queen of the Reich

Geoff Tate performs live at The El Mocambo. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

For the fans, this was a fantastic experience. These are true lovers of the music, and they were treated to an amazing experience. Let's hope it's not another 7 years before we get a re-visit.


Geoff Tate Online

show date: April 3, 2024


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