Dream Theater @ The Theater at Madison Square Garden (4/3/2004)

Logo - Dream Theater

Artist: Dream Theater
Venue: The Theatre at Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 4/3/2004
Label: Atlantic Records

Given that I first heard of this band when they were a new signing on Mechanix Records back in 1989 I essentially consider myself among their earliest supporters. Though I have enjoyed their music for so long they were one of those bands that I just never got to see. Tonight, at “The Theatre” (which is beneath Madison Square Garden, and is the former Felt Forum) I had the chance to rectify this issue. This is the perfect setting for this band as not only is the room acoustically sound – but you can see the performers very easily from almost any vantage point. However for this particular show there was not a lot of sitting going on for many fans decided to stand for the entire show. As a result the tall folks in immediate front of me prevented me from actually seeing a lot of the show. Without being disparaging I must declare that there are not a lot of antics onstage that merit your consistent attention at a Dream Theatre performance. You are there to absorb and enjoy their skilled musicianship and standing thru the entire set is only bound to annoy someone behind you.

Insofar as the band members go John Petrucci is an amazing player. While everyone in the group is a virtuoso and pushes the envelope ever higher release after release he really stands out on the guitar especially were Progressive Metal is concerned. There was also an awesome keyboard solo by Jordan Rudess which really showcased the level of diversity he possesses. While this piece thrilled me – the part of the show I wanted to see most was clearly going to be the drum solo by Mike Portnoy. He is a defining force in modern drumming, and his setups in kit and percussion devices is always one step ahead of his peers. While my favorite rock drummer is Neal Peart, Mister Portnoy offers the fan of that level of drumming a great change from what Peart does. It’s great to see a technician like that making the instrument an extension of himself. Portnoy’s kit needs to be seen to be believed as well. It is at least 30 different drums and cymbals, perhaps more. I was not close enough to see but he certainly was interesting to watch on it. The Monster as he often refers to it is so huge that two people can sit comfortably behind it and play a solo. Which is actually what happened. Mike does a very interesting thing by him beginning his wild technical showmanship and then wanting to get the audience involved. He starts by having someone in the front hit a tom tom with him and while that is cute it gets annoying fast. I am there to see him and not someone from the audience.

He then says that he can see way up in the back to the last row and he is seeing people get into everything. He also wants someone from there to come down to get a full view of the audience. So someone runs down and gets on stage and they both sit behind the kit and start playing. At this point I felt the member of the crowd was a plant from the bands camp. Not only was this guy keeping up with him on the set but also seemed to be able to navigate around this tremendous drumkit. What are the odds of randomly finding someone who not only plays drums but also one who could keep up with a player like Mike Portnoy. It still was fun to watch this part of the show.

The band would be supporting their latest release “Train Of Thought” which would be played in its entirety but not in sequence track after track. The played other things between and flip flopped to the new CD. It was good, and they played almost 4 hours. I have what I believe was the correct set list, but please pardon any minor errors. While I liked the idea of my getting the most bang for my buck for this length of time long show I felt this was a little long, but I think that was mainly because I will still standing at that point.

Set List:
1) As I Am
2) This Dying Soul
3) Beyond this Life
4) Hollow Years
5) The Great Debate
6) Another Day
7) Endless Sacrifice
8) Trial of Tears
9) A Change of Seasons
10) Caught in a Web
11) Honor thy Father
12) Vacant
13) Stream of Consciousness
14) Disappear
15) Pull me Under – encore
16) In the Name of God – encore

Official Website: www.DreamTheater.net

Editor’s Note: This article was written for another medium prior to the 2005 launch of PiercingMetal.com and has been added to our content for your enjoyment.

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