The Patti Pavilion, situated on Swansea’s sea front has a long and detailed history with a focus on performing arts. It was re-located in 1918 to its current spot, and was well used in the 1970’s and 80s, before falling into disrepair. As a Grade II listed building, with an important musical history, a lot of hard work has taken place to bring it back into use.
Geoff Tate has played in South Wales several times recently, and his Operation Mindcrime was the perfect choice as the first gig in the newly refurbished venue. As the first date on the short UK tour, we knew it would be something special.
Gin Annie are tour support, and were the first to step onto the stage. They are a well turned out band - each time we have seen them, we are struck by their appearance and attitude. They are still in the early stages of their career, but have come an awful long way since we first saw them on a tiny, cramped stage, in a venue so different to this historic Pavilion. They have perfected moves and with the band all able to roam around the huge stage, unfettered by wires and cables, we are treated to 45 minutes of barefaced rock and roll as the audience grows.
David Foster (Vocals) is expressive in his performance, and visually, as well as vocally, a pleasure to watch. The guitar partnership of Byron Garbett and Brian Green on guitars is close, and they work incredibly well together, giving us intricate and skilled riffs, hooks and solos, entertaining the early crowd. Phil Burrows on Bass, and Jack Ryland-Smith on drums making a great rhythm section. The band connect as a unit on stage and are a fantastic choice to support Geoffs tour. Get out and see them soon… It will not be long before they are playing way bigger venues, to massive audiences.
David Foster - Vocals
Byron Garbett - Guitar
Brian Green - Guitar
Phil Burrows - Bass
Jack Ryland - Smith - Drums
During the break, many people took advantage of the cool night air to sample the street food vendor who had set up out side. the location of the Patti does mean there are limited options too eat close by, so this was a welcome addition, offering kebabs, samosas and other reasonably price food options.
At precisely 9:30, five musicians appear on stage relaxed and smiling to cheers and applause, which got louder as Geoff Tate took his place front and centre.
Geoff has had a long career in the music industry, and he can have his pick of the taken that is out there. He has certainly taken his pick with this line-up. Kieran Robertson (Guitar) and Jack Ross (Bass) were with Geoff when we saw him at the beginning of last year, and work well together on stage. Kieran is one of the most talented young guitarist I have seen in a long while, and soaks up the engagement from the audience.
For the next 90 minutes, we were taken to places that only Geoff and his musicians can take us to, with a full set of some of his most well known pieces tracking back to the Operation: Mindcrime album, now over 30 years old.
With supporting vocals creating harmonise and some well practised stage moves, every person in the Pavilion cheered, sang and clapped in total appreciation of watching a master at work. Geoff has an operatic range in his voice, which seems to be as clear and clean as it was in his younger days. Although Geoff and the band know the words, the crowd help him out with every track, in the way only the Welsh can - with loud voices, perfectly in tune, and arms thrust in the air.
Geoff, as a front man, is phenomenal to watch. He acts out every verse, every chorus, and draws the audience in. Despite the newness of the sound system, it handles the set brilliantly - loud enough so that you can’t hold a conversation with your neighbour, but not too loud to distort. The skill of the sound engineer dealing with variances on his microphone position in an instant - making sure we all had the best chance of enjoying the show.
As the time drew near for the show to end, the six men left the stage, and must have been deafened by the crowd yelling stamping and cheering in their demands for an encore. After what seemed like ages, they returned, to give us Silent Lucidity and Eyes of a Stranger before fancy leaving us for the night.
As far as the venue went - it survived its first rock gig for 16 years - no mean feat in a time when rock venues are closing down. Big Day Productions have done a fine job in working with a variety of organisations to make sure this was a success and the schedule of gigs to come will iron out the one or two minor niggles that any new venue has.
Geoff Tate - Vocals
Kieran Robertson- Guitar,
Jack Ross- Bass
Felix Bohnke - Drums
Dario Parente -Guitar
Walter Cianciusi -Guitar