Ordinarily, the city of Minneapolis is a bustling metropolis for bars and venues, even in the dead of winter. However, the city was more like a ghost town due to the “lovely” pandemic and its famous 15-degree ass-freezing temperature. Soon, I would love to write one good, warm-hearted article along the lines of warm weather, sunshine, palm trees, happiness, etc. Even though it is not the time for such an article, I think I found one bright spot between COVID-19 and old man winter at Fine Line.
For once, it did not take me long to find parking at a venue. When I arrived, a few idlers and security were standing outside the entrance. As I entered the building, I began to reminisce about the history of tonight’s concert. Fine Line is a spot in connection with other landmark venues owned by First Avenue. It has a rich past in welcoming a whole host of famous musicians, including Minnesota native Prince. My thoughts were quickly interrupted as I tried to get past the box office personnel who were checking my tickets that accompanied my press pass. Awkwardly, the box office is positioned right at the front door and when the door is opened by incoming patrons it brings in the “Cold Nort” on everyone standing in the vicinity. As I finally made my way from the box office, my thoughts about the location continued. The venue is similar to other Minneapolis spots around the area — a bit long, narrow, and small in diameter. Looking up, I was able to see a VIP area and to one side was a hectic bar. In the darkness, I saw the silhouette of people drinking to pass the time and frankly, just to get warm. Looking over the crowd, I noticed that half of the crowd decided to follow the club’s mask mandate and the other half felt comfortable taking their chances. Okay, enough about the venue and its patrons, let’s get to the show!
The opening act finally reached the stage about 8:30 pm, just a bit shy of the promised 8:00 pm start time. As the crowd waited, the figure of an individual appeared on the stage emitting a calm British accent that barely carried through the building. Finally, the artist, donning a shy smile, introduced himself in the microphone. During his introduction, my eye slightly turned from the man at the microphone to another individual. I noticed a shoulder-length curly-haired young man with piercing green eyes standing with his acoustic guitar. At first, you could tell he was very nervous, and who could blame him; however, once he started singing, all his fears seemed to melt away. My attention leaves the guitarist and my eyes turn to back to the singer. Side note here…the former drummer for Geoff Tate has now gone out on his own with the help of Tate to bring his music to the masses. Josh Watt’s solo project, Ivory Lake, has taken him on the road with Geoff Tate this year far away from his home. Periodically, Watt takes a break in the music to let us know a little about his personal life. The UK native-born musician, who lives in Cuidad Quesada, Costa Rica, stated that he missed his small children and this was the most time he had been without seeing them in a long while. He, like many other artists who come to Minneapolis, spoke of the freezing cold and asked, “How do you stand it here?” At one point during the set, he asked the crowd, “So I have some t-shirts and CDs in the back. Please, if you don’t want me to starve on the bus, please buy some to help me.” Luckily, his pleas with the crowd were beneficial because a line of patrons darted to the table during the break to purchase his merchandise. Oh, before I forget, let me go back and fill you in on the set before I fail to remember to do this for you. The acoustic set started with his song “Pillows,” which I read, later on, had a personal dark meaning. Each song seemed to start slow but gained a faster tempo toward the end of the show. Depending on the song, his voice at times was very quiet and soft, but other times you could hear its distinct power and control. Both the crowd and I were impressed with the musicality of this artist, who is not just a singer-songwriter, but a multi-instrument-playing artist. I can see why Geoff Tate chose him to open for him!
As Watt’s set ends, there was another not so brief intermission between artists. With the break, I decided to make my way around the venue to look at the merch booth. Surprisingly, I had two individuals come up to me that I recognized and had the pleasure of meeting at other shows. Let me say that it still feels strange getting recognized when I’m out shooting shows or just attending a concert. However, I honestly felt surprised at that moment when I was informed that they followed me and liked my work! Because of my upbringing, I was raised to be gracious and thankful when others pay you a compliment. It is a goal in my life’s work to provide impactful emotional images and honest, inspiring writings. So to those individuals, a big thank you! Ok, enough of the mushy stuff, let’s get back to rock and roll!
2.) Don’t Talk
3.) Little Flowers
4.) Everything’s Fine
5.) My Phone
6.) Teddy Had a Temper
Now on to set number two! So, this is another concert that I have not yet had the pleasure of attending. Again, a top band on my rock and roll playlist. Truly, I am a fan of both Geoff Tate, the original singer of Queensrÿche, and Todd LaTorre the current singer of Queensrÿche. To me, it’s like having two different flavors and enjoying them both. As the band took the stage, I have to say that it kind of reminded me of a high school reunion. The first thing I noticed, as the band grabbed their instruments, is that the band members are really young. I am not taking away from their talent at all, but I mean these guys were really young. Another observation, everything was electronic. Being old school, I was curious to see what it sounded like and I wanted to figure out what the difference was between a normal and all-electronic setup. I guess I was about to find out.
The impressive Geoff Tate finally took the platform and sang as he had never stepped off the stage. That same extraordinary voice still exists, just like at the beginning of his career. The band wore matching outfits as if they were a Vegas act, except for the Scottish rebel, Kieran Robertson. The ensemble of the evening included cut-off sleeves and a mohawk. As the concert began, I immediately noticed that the vocals were on point, but the rest of the show felt a little disconcerted. Although the band was extremely talented and Tate’s voice was on par, the electronic aspect of the show did not provide them any room to experiment musically or set themselves apart from other bands. Unfortunately, there was no crashing of the cymbals or crunchiness in the amps, which gave the show a sterile vibe. During the concert, I noticed the venue was finally filled at its capacity. Maybe this feeling of overcrowdedness had something to do with the lack of movement in the building. However, I was a bit unsure because I’ve never seen shows at this location to know if this is standard or a one-off. Regardless, Tate packed the house because of his talent and amazing vocals.
Again, Tate’s voice is amazing. Tate continued to hit high note after high note with his operatic voice and has never lost touch with his inner rocker. There are many physical features that I noticed about him while he was singing. For instance, I observed how the veins in the side of his neck protrude when he hits these out-of-the-world high notes. Also, I once spotted the sides of his jaw almost cave in when he changed his wardrobe during intermission. These are interesting features you would not notice normally, but I thought I would point them out. Now, on to the wardrobe. The first time he hit the stage he was wearing a black fedora, sparkling black dinner jacket with black pants and silver buttons up the side. Continuously during the show, he always had a red handkerchief in his hand. His second wardrobe change included the same black fedora and a printed silky shirt. Aside from my observations of physical appearance, I noticed that Tate positively interacted with audience members. For instance, he thanked them for all birthday wishes, he asked questions about the weather, and at one point he drank someone’s beer out of the audience, um gross!! I almost lost my dinner on that one! At least the guys in the band did not follow suit on that activity…whew!
The teenagers on stage, I mean the band members, included lead guitarists James Brown and Kieran Robertson, bassist Jack Ross, and drummer Daniel Laverde who sported a plethora of leather pants on stage. With the help of the youthful band members, Tate decided to perform two full albums and two additional songs! Although the band members are in the best shape of their lives, Tate kept up with all of them the entire time and did not falter once. He even took take time to stop between songs and tell stories, including the time that he went to the grocery store during the pandemic. He disconcertingly admitted he has never grocery shopped once, well, until the pandemic. Following that story, a hoot of laughter came out of the audience because all of us were thinking the same thing about how someone has never shopped once at a grocery store. Continuing with the tale, he stated that he went into the grocery store to get a few things and to fulfill his wife’s request to retrieve something feminine. He laughed and asked the men in the audience “Have you ever had to do this for your wife?” Of course, many yelled back “yes!” He then continued with the story about how he tried to reach the item, but it was not within reach because of his height. “I’m a short guy you know, and these items were on the top shelf and there was no way that I was going to be able to get them down. So, I climbed in the buggy (that is a shopping cart to y’all) and preceded to balance to try to get the item off the top shelf. Suddenly I can hear a voice behind me saying ‘Mr. Tate, I’m a huge fan of yours and would like you to sign my CD and tell you my life story.’” He points out that of all the times for something like this to happen it’s when he is tippy-toeing toward the top shelf and balancing in a buggy to get feminine products in the store. Tate then explains he turns around, hands the box of feminine products with the wings to the fan, and asks him to hold the box. Next, he proceeds to climb out of the cart and began listening to this guy’s life story about how this Queensrÿche song saved his life. As he listened intently, he could not for the life of him figure out what song this guy was referencing. He said this went on for quite a while and finally he asks the fan, “Which song are you referring to?” The man looks at him and said, “Silence of Tennessee.” At this point, the crowd lets out this roar of laughter. Tate exclaimed that it took everything he had to keep a straight face. Of course, if you are a fan or listened to the radio in the ’90s, you know the song was “Silent Lucidity”. Awkwardly, this fan had the wrong song title for all these years. I can imagine that just maybe, he had the lyrics wrong too! After the story, it was back to the music.
As the musical aspect of the show continued, Tate showed his numerous talents. At various times, he showed his ability to play different instruments. Tate played his acoustic guitar, performed the saxophone, and rattled the tambourine. The crowd was truly invested in the show, especially when more popular songs like Jet City Woman and Empire were performed. During those numbers, the crowd becomes electric. Not only were there a few in the audience who were amped on the music, but some attendees were wired on liquor. At one point, one of the inebriated patrons decided to throw a drink on the stage which hit the unsuspecting bass player. In my contemplation about human beings, I always wonder why some people attend a concert, pay hard-earned money to be present, decide to get shitfaced drunk, do foolish crap, and get thrown out in 15-degree weather. I suggest that the main purpose of going to a concert is to enjoy the music and not just the alcohol? Needless to say, the Scottish guitarist for the band almost came undone and decided to pursue the said happy drunk offender. It was quite a scene! With that incident, I felt like I was watching a scene from Cops rather than attending a concert.
Although it felt like I was writing a police report rather than writing a concert review, the end of the evening improved. Tate finished out the set with Take Hold of Flame and Last Time in Paris. For this girl, the concert was starting to run a little long, but in the end, it was a really enjoyable show!! Finally, I am happy to see Geoff Tate in concert after so many years. Would I go see him again? Yes, I would! I believe that a large number of people that came out in the cold enjoyed the show and would come back as well. However, if I could make one request of Geoff it would be this wish… I would like to see some life breathed into the rest of the act. Drop the electronics and get back to what you know, Geoff. Just my thoughts.
Full Empire Album
1.) Best I Can
2.) Thin Line
3.) Jet City Woman
4.) Della Brown
5.) Another Rainy Night
8.) Silent Lucidity
9.) Hand On Heart
10.) One and Only
11.) Anybody Listening?
Full Rage for Order Album
12.) The Shadows.
13.) I Dream in Infra Red
15.) Close To You
16.) The Killing Words
17.) Surgical Strike
18.) Neue Regel
19.) Chemical Youth
21.) Screaming in Digital
22.) I Will Remember
23.) Take Hold of Flame
24.) Last Time in Paris
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As a Minneapolis-based professional freelance photographer and photojournalist, I feel I have a passion for sharing new perspectives of the world. Since picking up my first DSLR camera, I have been hooked ever since. Striving to capture the rawest forms of emotion through my photos, I am determined to make the viewer feel as if they were there too. Whether I am photographing landscapes, families, children, events, or concerts, I feel I have a way of capturing the true essence of the moment and finding the extraordinary in an ordinary place.
I am always looking for a creative outlet through my art, I find myself drawn to concerts as a rock music lover. You will find me right up front in the pit with everyone else. I have documented tours with some of the biggest artists in rock history including George Lynch, Judas Priest, Billy Idol, Slaughter, Vince Neil, Rick Springfield, and many more. I continue to push boundaries with my work and strive to capture some of the most iconic moments that represent the vibe of the artists and crowd as well as the atmosphere of the overall event. I am a contributor for All Music Magazine and a published photographer including features in Guitar Magazine and a feature cover photo on George Lynch’s 2021 solo album. Some of my clients include Morley Pedals, Rat Pak Records, Two Notes Audio, and many more.
“I capture emotions, not images.”