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Dream Theater: Live in New York

You want it, they’ve got it. Dream Theater, one of the most musically brilliant bands in the scene today, brought the finest of art to the Beacon Theater in Manhattan on August 9, 2009. Yes, this review is late… really late, sorry. But nothing can take away from the fact that after all these years, the masters of prog can still deliver a perfect live show!

Dream Theater

The first band opening for them was Big Elf. I arrived to catch their last three songs and I honestly wish I was there from the start. They were great! I thought the second opening act would have trouble topping them. Frankly, I was wrong.

The second act was Zappa Plays Zappa, featuring Dweezil Zappa, son of the late legend Frank Zappa. This band was absolutely mind-blowing! I mean, talk about instrumental perfection! Each member of this band excelled at one instrument… minimum! And all this is coming from someone who has never listened to Zappa (though I think I should start). They were, without a doubt, one of the best opening bands imaginable. For a short moment I thought Dream Theater would have difficulty overcoming this band. But I learned a valuable lesson: never doubt Dream Theater.

Dream Theater Setlist (August 9, 2009):

  1. A Nightmare to Remember
  2. A Rite of Passage
  3. Hollow Years
  4. Prophets of War
  5. Dance of Eternity
  6. One Last Time
  7. The Count of Tuscany
  8. (Encore) Metropolis – Pt. I (The Miracle and the Sleeper)

Don’t get the wrong impression by the small number of songs. The setlist was about two hours, and mark my words, it was an amazing two hours. They chose my favourite three songs from the new album and chose no more than one song from past albums (if you consider Dance of Eternity – One Last Time one song). It was also a great mix of light songs and heavy songs. And even better, these songs were not played the past two shows I’ve seen them. As usual, it was a well-constructed setlist.

Dream Theater, in my opinion, has among the best live sound. I don’t know if it’s because they play small venues or if it’s because they got great sound guys, but it’s just brilliant! It was extremely clear and each of the five instruments finely balanced to their liking. It was loud, but not too loud (I was eigth row and my ears were fine). And there were no problems throughout their two hour set. Just wonderful!

Each band member also did a fantastic job. John Petrucci, the guitarist, was closest to my seat so it was easy to tell how perfect his performance was. Mike Portnoy was absolutely flawless in his drumming. The vocals were spot on and heart-warming; props to James LaBrie. Keyboardist, Jordan Rudess, was amazing whether it was with a keyboard solo or supporting melodies. And last, but certainly not least, John Myung on bass. With his amazing basslines and mind-blowing bass solos, he was truly terrific! The band was brilliant in every way possible.

The crowd was great too; typical Dream Theater crowd. There was boisterous applause after every song and solo, and respectful, intent listening during them. They gave great energy throughout the performance, making it that much better.

For me, the biggest highlight of the concert was Mr. Dweezil Zappa joining the band onstage for a jam during the encore. Jordan Rudess joined Zappa and Petrucci at the front of the stage with a key-tar (like a keyboard you can hold with a strap like a guitar) and the three of them had a monster jam. Electrifying and unforgettable!

In every way, the concert was perfect. The opening bands were amazing and the main act even more. A stunning setlist was bolstered by a blissful sound. In hindsight, it was more than just a concert. It was having all your wishes come true. It was when day and dream unite.

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