Saturday, April 1, 2006
Radio City Music Hall
New York City
*** Live Review By Shaq ***
Dream Theater is a band that is no longer a stranger in the metal realm. Leading the charge of progressive metal for two decades, they have come to the point where they can manage a balance between commercial success and musical integrity. The measure of that success can clearly be seen by the choice of venue for this special show. Radio City Music Hall is rarely a destination for a metalhead on their way to a show. However, not only did Dream Theater book such a venue, but they also sold it out. This night was set to be the final evening on their 20th anniversary tour, and a film crew was on hand to capture the entire show for an upcoming live DVD. Due to this fact, I was unable to get my own pictures of the night, so this will be purely a show review, and visuals can be seen when the DVD is released later this year.
Metalheads began to fill the large, upscale venue as well thought out house music filled the room to get everyone prepared. A large, elegant curtain was closed covering the entire stage. Right on time, the lights went out and the curtain rose to start things off. I’ll state right off the bat that though I’m still a huge supporter of the band, I am not a big fan of their latest offering, OCTAVARIUM. However, knowing that this was to be filmed, I knew to expect a lot from that album since obviously none had been captured on DVD before.
Confirming my predictions, they went right into “The Root of All Evil”, the third and latest installment in the series of songs dealing with Portnoy’s battle with alcoholism. I will say that seeing the song done live brought a whole new dimension to it. Now I’ve seen each of the three songs done live, each at a different show. I can only hope that once they finish the series they might perform them from start to finish. After this they worked right into I Walk Beside You, another track from OCTAVARIUM. The entire band sounded spot on this night, especially LaBrie.
Next, LaBrie addressed the audience, which didn’t happen very much throughout the night as the band mostly just played through, as is their style. He announced that they had been around twenty years and that they wanted to start at the beginning and work chronologically through their catalog. They began to do just that, and played Another Won, a song from the Majesty era. As expected, they continued with Afterlife, from WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE. These two songs were from before LaBrie joined the band, but he added a nice element to them both. Next, the band worked into a great rendition of “Under a Glass Moon”, from their monumental album, IMAGES AND WORDS. It was the next song in the setlist that would truly set the tone for the evening. This song, from the album AWAKE, was “Innocence Faded”. This song requires an extraordinary vocal performance, and LaBrie stepped up to the challenge, proving that he still has the range and voice that he hadn’t lost anything over the years. Even his harshest critics left the show this night praising his performance.
Following this, they played “Raise the Knife”, which although it does not appear on any studio albums, it was from the FALLING INTO INFINITY sessions, and counted as their contribution from that album. Finally, to close out the first set, they played “The Spirit Carries On”, and I don’t think there was a single person in the house who wasn’t singing along at the top of their lungs. It was truly a magical experience, and the raw emotion from the song could be felt the entire time. The band then left the band for a 15 minute intermission and the curtains closed once again.
I had my suspicions regarding what to expect when the curtains opened again, and even though my prediction was correct, I was still blown away by the sight. The curtains opened to reveal a full orchestra on stage. The orchestra went right into “Overture”, which meant only one thing: they were about to play SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE in its entirety! It was about this time that I simply lost it, totally immersed in the incredible performance. The next 40 minutes or so blew by like nothing as they worked through the entire song, which consists of 8 smaller songs, or movements. Seeing it done live added a whole new dimension to the song, and while I loved it beforehand, I gained a whole new level of appreciation for it.
After the epic song, the orchestra would remain on stage to participate in the remainder of the show. Next up in the timeline was TRAIN OF THOUGHT, which they mostly ignored, only playing the short “Vacant”. Now we were back to OCTAVARIUM in the discography, and Dream Theater worked through versions of “The Answer Lies Within” and “Sacrificed Sons”. One might think that playing a 40 minute epic song in a set would be the only longer song to be played in that set, but Dream Theater doesn’t abide by the standard set of rules, especially when dealing with their setlists. The band closed out their second set with “Octavarium”, their 24 minute epic from the album of the same name. As with the other songs from this album, seeing it done live made me come to appreciate the material, this song in particular, especially when backed by a skilled orchestra.
As expected, the band would return to the stage once more for an encore. It can normally be expected at this point for them to play one of two songs, and they followed that form by playing “Metropolis Part 1”. The real kicker here is that the orchestra was still on stage and added an entirely new element to the classic song. The material the orchestra had to play here was far from easy, and they pulled it off flawlessly.
All in all, the band put on a stellar performance, proving that they still have what it takes, even after diverging a bit from their original style. Everyone in the audience got to experience a once in a lifetime experience, with the benefit of being able to obtain a DVD keepsake down the line. The only downsides of the set were that it was heavy on the OCTAVARIUM material, and also that overall it was a pretty light set, as they left out many of their heavier numbers. However, this was still a stellar performance, and I’d easily recommend seeing them live to anyone, as well as picking up this DVD when it comes out.
The Root Of All Evil
I Walk Beside You
Under A Glass Moon
Raise The Knife
The Spirit Carries On
– Intermission –
About To Crash
War Inside My Head
The Test That Stumped Them All
About To Crash (reprise)
Losing Time / Grand Finale
The Answer Lies Within
Metropolis Pt. I
Dream Theater Official Site