Artist: Dream Theater
Venue: Radio City Music Hall (New York, NY)
Label: Rhino Records
Has it been twenty years since the world first had Dream Theater appear and bring Progressive Metal into the future? According to the band themselves this is the case and tonight at Radio City Music Hall in their hometown they would close out the “Octavarium” tour in front of a sold-out audience. It seemed like just recently that the band released this album and jumped quickly on “Gigantour” with Megadeth to do a co-headlining event that if done again better might very well rival that of Ozzfest. This series of shows brought Dream Theater to an entirely new audience in a lot of ways if you asked me, for with many of the bands being straight ahead Metal, and not Progressive there were more Metal people in the audience who would get to hear Dream Theater music for the first time. Those who have every attended a show at Radio City Music Hall (RCMH from now on) can attest that this is the perfect venue for a band like Dream Theater. It is acoustically sound, and from almost every seat you can get a great view of the show. You just have to worry if someone stands in front you, and a band like this is more sit and enjoy the performance rather than remain standing. The bands virtuoso nature works very well in this place and even from far away you could tell the smiles were on their faces. The group has been around for awhile and has toured the world a number of times, but it has to be special to play such a legendary place on the final night of their tour. To commemorate the occasion Dream Theater had announced in advance that this performance would be recorded for a soon to be released DVD. Given that announcement I expected the evening to be superior to everything else I had ever witnessed before.
The song selections for the evening would be the ever changing beast that is a DT set, and tonight I found their selections to be less of the heavy material that was played earlier on the Gigantour (at least the one I saw). Instead they focused on some songs which seemed to have a lighter more commercial appeal to them. To mix things up and be interesting a “way back machine” was turned on (Mr. Peabody & Sherman reference folks) as the group performed a song from their Majesty years. These songs from their unsigned years have been released as part of their “official bootleg” series. It was followed by a number from their debut album “When Dream And Day Unite” with “Afterlife”. This was the second tune I had ever heard from them but I think it would have been cooler for them to choose a couple of different numbers from this album. Hearing this track made me wish they played “Status Seeker” which still sounds fresh to me to this very day. LaBrie truly carries himself like a regent of Progressive Rock as the band while heavy at times is no longer to simply be classified as a Metal band. They have continually pushed the envelope with their music and shown to the world that they are as worthy of acclaim as the Progressive giants who came before them (Rush, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer). The show broke into two sets and after a brief intermission returned with a full-blown orchestra. This was impressive to say the least and with this help they performed the entire track “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence”. Given this was selected to be played I was amazed and shocked that they also played the full song “Octavarium”, because two lengthy numbers in one sitting can be a bit tough on the casual listener. Jordan Rudess did a different type of solo this time around and I was a little more impressed with the last one. He was trying some new technology tonight and while it’s very interesting I preferred the display he did last time I got to see them. Petrucci and Myung are simply amazing to watch perform as there is such a level of precision in their musical expression. Mike Portnoy never ceases to amaze me in both his skill and his drum set designs, this one is perhaps one of the coolest I had ever seen and he makes sure it is completely used. There were a number of highlights during the show and the dramatic use of 9-11 footage for “Sacrificed Sons” was very well done.
I had thought the orchestra would be something that came and went during the second set, but I would be wrong as they remained for the entire performance. It was an interesting dynamic to see and it did not seem to catch the band players off guard for a second. So many groups have taken to releasing albums with full-symphony accompaniment but I think a band like Dream Theater works in this setting the best. This presentation will certainly raise the interest factor of the coming DVD. I had a good time as expected since I am generally blown away by these guys but if I can take some disappointment away from a great night it would be for these reasons. The set was far shorter than I expected from this band who normally clock in at over three hours. One show I saw last year ran almost four. Yes the group did perform a very tight set and you can see it listed in full below, but there was little else in the way of surprise (outside of the orchestra). There would be no guest-stars, nor a pulling out the stops in terms of set lengths to do one of those surprise album presentations. The Radio City Music Hall venue is one of those tight scheduled ones that end up levying fines on the band if they are not done by a certain time. It seemed that these restrictions would come into play tonight for at 10:59 they were almost done with the closing number. The lack of a drum solo by Portnoy also disappointed the drummer in me for he is truly one of the new masters in the field. I am sure that the DVD we will see will be a lot more comprehensive and perhaps lets hope for some Gigantour footage as well, since the performance was so different. Dream Theater is one of those bands that use the medium effectively so I don’t think they shall disappoint us with the coming release.
1. The Root Of All Evil
2. Walk Beside You
3. Another Won
5. Under A Glass Moon
6. Innocence Faded
7. Raise The Knife
8. The Spirit Carries On
9. 9. Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence: Overture, About To Crash, War Inside My Head, The Test That Stumped Them All, Goodnight Kiss, Solitary Shell, About To Crash (reprise), Losing Time/Grand Finale
11. The Answer Lies Within
12. Sacrificed Sons
14. 14. Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper
Official Web site: www.dreamtheater.net