Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Operation Mindcrime: Dublin Calling!

About thirty years ago, as dental student, my friend Terry introduced me to Operation:Mindcrime by Queensrÿche. It was the great heavy rock concept album of the 80s, and as well as the record (CD as well as vinyl back then!) there was a full length film to go along with it (on VHS of course) and the guys (not dental students) in my house watched it on a constant loop in between Neighbours and sleeping.

Kieran Robertson on guitar with Geoff Tate for Operation:Mindcrime

It’s a bit tenuous but the initial dental connection (there almost always is one) here is that one of the main characters in the Mindcrime story is the mysterious “Dr X”, played by Anthony Valentine. Sadly this is the actor of that name who was in Callan and Colditz, and not his namesake who was my Professor of Children’s Dentistry in Queen’s University’s Dental School in the 1980s. That would have been altogether more interesting.

Geoff Tate
Geoff Tate no longer has the mullet, but he still has the gift of his voice

No VHS for me, I was content with a C-90 copy (until I got a CD of the live version - it was another 6 years before I got a CD player), and I saw them in the Ulster Hall perform the entire album at Hallowe’en in 1990. The audience at that show have the great bragging blue chip; "I saw them with DeGarmo". It was a 170 date tour which had kicked off in Dublin’s SFX the night before. Half of the people that work at Swords Orthodontics weren’t born by the time that tour concluded!

But like the rest of my C-90 tapes, it ended up in a shoebox and I didn’t think of it for decades until last January, I saw it come up on a list of great concept albums on the BBC website. Nostalgia having the effect it does on me, a couple of clicks later I was watching it on YouTube as if the years had never passed.

Strangely, the content seems more relevant to me now than then. Changes in the cohesion of society and mass disillusionment with conventional politics, economics and news media had produced a few unusual scenes on TV (and the sides of buses) from all over the world over the last couple of years and it’s not nearly as much of a stretch of the imagination to think that the album’s story could play out under a slightly different set of circumstances.

By amazing coincidence, the original Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate – minus his mullet – was going to be performing it in full with his own band in Dublin’s Button Factory the following week.

I was up for this. Big time.

As it turned out, Tate’s band had done their rehearsals in Ireland, and powered by many days of full Irish breakfasts they belted out a monumental rendition of something once cherished but lost to me for years, but now exhumed and unleashed as strong as ever. It amazed me that the words were in my mouth to sing along though I hadn’t phrased those words, hadn’t uttered them aloud since RTE started showing Nationwide and stopped showing Jo Maxi, a time before Goodfellas pizzas and Boyzone.

Geoff Tate puts the mindcrime into operation

There is of course another dental connection. More than one, in fact.

  1. When you do orthodontics every day for a long time, the way you hold an instrument, look at a tooth, adjust a brace – they all have a particular way that they should feel/look/move. When you are so used to it, it’s deep in the subconscious, and you know when it’s right or wrong. After a holiday, it’s surprising how quickly this comes back, and even during a holiday I might find I’m looking at someone’s teeth and jaw relations even though I’m off duty. This stuff doesn’t go away easily once it’s been acquired. Though it can take a lot of time to acquire, which is the value of experience as well as education.
  2. Also, and this is more important for our patients, sometimes when you do something good, people get to enjoy it for many, many years. This is true for classic albums, and it’s also true for a great orthodontic result – but you have to wear your retainers.
  3. The classic piece of dental scientific research about retainers and how teeth move after orthodontic treatment was done in Seattle - the same city that Queensrÿche come from (also the city where Boeing makes their aeroplanes - an early song by Queensrÿche was "Jet City Woman"). Ah, so it's all connected.

Geoff Tate is coming back to Dublin next week with his Operation Mindcrime show – he’s in the Button Factory on February 19th 2019 (Tuesday) and in Belfast on February 20th.

Who hears the revolution calling?

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