DREAM THEATER: Live at Ice Hall, Helsinki

February 6th, 2012
by Marko Syrjala

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REVIEW AND PICTURES MY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA

The masters of progressive metal Dream Theater are known for having fallen in love with Finland as evidenced by their visits to the northernmost country on every tour since 1995. In 1995 the band played here for the first time in a small club with Fates Warning supporting. Some time has passed by since those days and many things have changed. The band has released a bunch of albums, the latest one DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS came out in the fall of 2011, and Dream Theater is now playing in arenas. There are also some changes in the line-up as the core and founder Mike Portnoy is no longer in the band. As it is widely known Mr. Portnoy left the band in late 2010 to pursue other interests and he’s now replaced by new drummer Mike Mangnini.

Dream Theater had arrived a few days earlier to rehearse and get prepared for the upcoming massive European tour. As a matter of fact, the whole touring cycle of DRAMATIC TOUR OF EVENTS started out in Helsinki. It did seem that there’s still plenty of demand for Dream Theater when approx. 5000-6000 prog-metal worshipers crawled through the cold north winter storm to the god forsaken Ice Hall to witness Magnini’s debut with Dream Theater in Finland.

Before the virtuosos unleashed their six degrees of musical turbulence, a previously unknown combo named Periphery was supposed to open for Dream Theater. The band‘s debut gig on their first ever European tour was plagued by insane and incredible technical problems. The computer device went down and had a serious malfunction as the drummer wasn’t able to hear the needed “click” in his headphones. After wondering and booting the device more than half a set Periphery was able to perform a couple of songs before the playing time was over. As for the stuff of Periphery, well they were just another boring band playing some weird “jump core” stuff. In brief, they were totally worthless support band and wrong place in wrong time.

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After the mandatory roadie break the stage was ready for the progressive metal maestros. The gig started out as an eccentric animation was shown on the backdrop. The Dream Theater lookalike figures had been illustrated on the animation film. In the wake of the animation movie the members of Dream Theater got on the stage. The set was kicked off by new album track “Bridges in the Sky” and was followed by classic “06:00 PM” All in all the new songs from the latest album were in the essential role and altogether band performed six tracks from the latest opus. Of course the set included the older material and their biggest hits but also some pleasant rarities “A Fortune of Lies” from debut album WHEN DAY AND DREAM UNITE.  It was also a pleasant surprise that the whole set wasn’t the massive progressive heavy as in the middle of the gig James LaBrie and John Petrucci did a string of songs in the acoustic. Jordan Rudness’ mother recently passed away therefore “The Spirit Carries On” had been dedicated to her memory.

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To be honest, Mike Portnoy’s role in the Dream Theater had become bigger than a lifetime. His strong and charismatic personality in terms of charge of the music making played strong role in Dream Theater for obvious reasons. Other members of Dream Theater got a bit into the shadow on the stage when Portnoy dominated by taking an activate role in the singing and of course his playing skills were spell bounding. But when following Dream Theater’s opening gig in Helsinki it could be felt the band has found an entire new and extremely positive mood amongst the members. It did seem that each band member had now more space to move and breathe on the stage.

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The sound was astonishing and as sharp as a blade and as a whole the two hour prog-metal marathon and overall this was a phenomenal performance from the band which heavy songs with the technical aspects sounded tremendous and massive. The audience was definitely into the musical experience of five-piece’s skills. James LaBrie sounded great even though his voice didn’t reach the same capacity on “Pull Me Under” like in the past. Petrucci, Rudess and Myong handled their job in a most professional way. It’s funny to notice that Myong is always the same without any grin or eye contact to the audience after all these years. As for Mangini, he fits to Dream Theater more than well. His passionate, his dedication and his skills are needed the parts in the puzzle of Dream Theater. The band has found the real jewel behind the drum kit which was definitely as massive as Mike Portnoy’s, there’s no doubt about that. It is a fact the fans have already accepted Mike Magnini as a new drummer for Dream Theater and in the end of the show someone threw a huge poster to Magnini saying “ Welcome to the family , Mike”.

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However, it has to be admitted there aren’t too many so called radio hit singles in the repertoire of Dream Theater. Instead the highly skilled musicians, who gained success by effective touring and creating outstanding songs, are the leading names on the progressive metal map, worshiped by true fans. The success of Dream Theater in Finland thru years has been strong and loyal. For sure this band will be seen in Finland several times in the years to come.


 WWW.DREAMTHEATER.NET

 SET LIST

Bridges in the Sky

6:00

Build Me Up, Break Me Down

Surrounded

The Root of All Evil

Mike Mangini’ drumsolo

A Fortune in Lies

The Silent Man (acoustic)

Beneath the Surface (acoustic)

Outcry

On the Backs of Angels

War Inside My Head

The Test that Stumped Them All

The Spirit Carries On

Breaking All Illusions

Pull Me Under

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