At The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., June 14, 2008

Queensrÿche aren’t a band to do things by halves. While other bands tour in celebration of one of their classic albums, playing the whole thing from start to finish, Queensrÿche play two. They have taken the bold decision to play both Operation: Mindcrime I and II in their entirety, making this one very ambitious tour of the UK.

Operation: Mindcrime I, which was released to tumultuous praise back in 1988, was a concept album based upon the story of Nikki and his fight against a corrupt society and involves political intrigue, brainwashing, murder and terrorism. Going totally against the grain of the Hair Metal releases of the day, Operation: Mindcrime became acknowledged as one of the finest concept albums of all time standing alongside the likes of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Tommy by The Who and in the process becoming one of Metal’s defining albums.

queensryche Following its release, Queensrÿche finally achieved the sort of success that they had been promising for years and in doing so inspired a whole generation of Progressive Metal bands over the ensuing two decades. Subsequent release Empire saw the band heading in an upward trajectory achieving the biggest selling album to date on the back of worldwide smash hit single “Silent Lucidity”.

Following the excellent Promised Land, Queensrÿche’s appeal became somewhat more selective and the departure of original guitarist Chris DeGarmo following 1997’s poorly received Hear In The Now Frontier marked an all time low for the band.

queensryche Although Tribe showed a return to form by Queensrÿche there remained strong rumours and even stronger fan demand for a follow up to their legendary Mindcrime classic. In 2006 those rumours finally came to fruition with the release of Operation: Mindcrime II, an album that Geoff Tate pledged would bring the story to a logical conclusion. Mindcrime II while lacking the immediacy of the original was certainly a strong album which revealed its full glories after repeated listens. With the story complete it was only natural for the whole show to be taken on the road.

After a few hugely successful shows in the States, with the performance at The Moore Theatre in Seattle recorded for an excellent DVD and double Live CD release, it was time to head over to Europe for a full blown Operation: Mindcrime tour. A tour that promised to be the biggest of Queensrÿches long career featuring Operation: Mindcrime I and II in their entirety with actors, stage props, theatrics and video screens to combine to bring the Mindcrime suite to life.

queensryche Newcastle City Hall was the perfect venue for such a show with its ornate Victorian architecture providing the perfect ambience for such an dramatic show and with no support act Queensrÿche had the whole of the night to present their spectacle.

With a stage set resembling some sleazy, graffiti strewn backstreet area with a staircase to a platform dominating the stage behind which a large video screen played out scenes from the story was certainly the perfect backdrop for the action that followed.

Over the course of 3 hours Queensrÿche delivered a show as evocative as it was ambitious. The ever impressive Scott Rockenfield, one of Rock’s finest drummers, along with bassist Eddie Jackson provided the foundation upon which guitarists Michael Wilton and Michael Stone weaved their musical magic. Stone, who had the difficult job of filling DeGarmos’ shoes, did so with great credit while Wilton continued to show what an underrated guitarist that he is. At times their interplay was exemplary with some fine harmony work on the likes of “Revolution Calling”.

queensryche Perhaps the star of the show is Geoff Tate who really brings the character of Nikki to life with a fine theatrical display bringing the anguish and torment of Nikkis’ troubled mind to reality. Tate’s voice throughout is simply magnificent. Throughout the whole 3 hour show he barely missed a note while acting out his part. Perhaps the most gripping parts of the show involved his interaction with the superb Pamela Moore who played the role of Sister Mary. “Suite Sister Mary” itself was one of the many highlights of the show with the band at their dramatic best while Tate and Moore lost themselves in their parts.

As the melodramatic “Eyes of A Stranger” reached a rousing conclusion Mindcrime I was over and the short interval allowed the band and crowd the chance for some quick refreshments.

While Operation: Mindcrime II was always going to suffer alongside its predecessor as people’s expectations would exceed the reality, the piece is a more demanding listen which benefits from repeated plays. On stage however, the music really does come to life with the frantic “I’m American” and the moody “The Hands” being particularly impressive.

queensryche The theatrics in Mindcrime II really pick up the pace with court room scenes, kidnaps, murders, ghosts and a whole host of visual treats to keep the crowd riveted to the stage throughout. “All The Promises” brings Mindcrime to a touching close as Nikki and Mary are reunited in death and again Tate and Moore really pull out the stops to keep the atmosphere levels at a peak.

After leaving the stage to an ecstatic response, Queensrÿche return for the encores of “Jet City Woman”, “Empire” and a stunning “Silent Lucidity” where Tate after almost 3 hours of performing still performs with style. After such a performance it would be churlish to lament the absence of a “Queen of The Reich” or “Take Hold of The Flame” to end the show instead credit should go to the band for their audacity in proposing such an extravagant concert and the plaudits for so successfully pulling it off.

queensryche Operation: Mindcrime really needs to be seen on stage to be fully appreciated. The music and visuals combine to perfection to create an intense and powerful performance making it easy to imagine this show having a successful run at The West End or on Broadway.

The Operation: Mindcrime legacy has consolidated its stature with this show and Queensrÿche have delivered one of the most exciting concerts in recent years.



  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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