Weekender

Geoff Tate to tell the stories behind the songs at The State Theatre

Geoff Tate’s music has a lifetime of stories to tell. The renowned vocalist of progressive metal band Queensrÿche will be sharing these tales with Centre County on Feb. 21 when he performs at The State Theatre.

Tate’s “Whole Story ‘Ryche’ Acoustic Tour” offers audiences just that, a chance to hear exactly what was happening in his life when he was writing these songs. A la VH1 Storytellers, the insight that Tate provides makes his music all the more meaningful.

“I’ve done acoustic tours before, but nothing quite like this,” Tate said. “This is a storytelling tour and I’ve got 35 years of music, touring and stories to accompany all of that. I thought that it would be kind of interesting to tell stories about the songs and what was going on at the time when they came out, either with me personally, with the band or what was going on in the news at the time and how they influenced the albums.”

Tate initially made a name for himself as Queensrÿche’s frontman, a true metal god with the powerful voice to back it up. After thoroughly dominating the underground for close to a decade, Queensrÿche broke into the mainstream with their 1990 masterpiece, “Empire.” Backed by the single, “Silent Lucidity,” the record was nominated for two Grammy Awards and propelled the band to the band to wordwide acclaim.

Throughout this career ascension, Tate has maintained great faith in the integrity of his music. Stripped away from any sort of elaborate stage show and walls of deafening amplifiers, his stop in State College will harken to the foundation of his music.

“An acoustic presentation goes back to the roots of the song. Every song I’ve ever written has either started on an acoustic guitar or a piano and with this tour, I am just reverse engineering the song back to where it started,” Tate said. “I think that a song is a song, and you can take just about any song and reformat it with different instrumentation. As long as you have a vocalist, it’s going to be identifiable to the audience.

“It’s been really fun reworking the music to fit acoustically,” he continued. “You have to approach it differently and figure out what the song’s strength is. Is it the melody? The rhythm? And then, how do you showcase those things? It really is a different way of thinking and presenting the music.”

The seven-piece acoustic band that Tate will have with him at The State Theatre will naturally bring him closer to the audience. Instead of being a tiny dot on a stage surround by tens of thousands of people in Japan or South America, he will be front and center at a cozy venue conducive to this stripped-down approach.

“I think that performing acoustically allows for a much more intimate performance that is more engaging with the audience,” Tate said. “When you’re playing really loud and aggressive music, you can’t really hear what people in the crowd have to say. Of course, it’s definitely exciting to play with that really big and bombastic sound with full drums, bass and all of that, but playing acoustically gives me the chance to interact with the audience.

“This is something that I haven’t really done a lot of in the past,” Tate added. “Now, I can actually hear people in the audience and have short conversations with them. They’ll throw out ideas and I can riff off of them and it’s much more interactive than anything I’ve ever done. I’m having a really great time with it.”

Tate hasn’t been the only one enjoying himself on this tour. His loyal and passionate fan base are equally as excited to hear their favorite music rearranged in such a brilliant manner. It hasn’t been a challenge for them to embrace this different approach, and crowds might trek to The State Theatre on Feb. 21 the same way they would if it were a three-day summer rock festival.

“The audiences here come from a cross-section with all different types of people from all walks of life,” Tate said. “We’ve been having lots of the same people from our traditional shows coming out to the acoustic ones. People who have liked me and Queensrÿche over the years throughout the different stages of our career have been coming out.

“I love music and I love presenting my music in different environments with various instrumentation. It’s just another challenge that has been really interesting and fun,” he said.

IF YOU GO

  • What: Geoff Tate
  • When: 8 p.m. Feb. 21
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre.org
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