ICE HALL, HELSINKI
24’th of February 2014
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Progressive metal maestros Dream Theater have always been diligent Finnish visitors. The band made its live debut in Finland in 1995. This show on Feb.24th, 2014 was their tenth show here. The band released its 12’th studio album DREAM THEATER in September 2103 and it’s been a worldwide success on the charts. The album has received critical acclaim and the first single “The Enemy Inside” was nominated for a “Best Metal Performance” Grammy Award. Understandably, the recovery process took its time but it stands to reason that the band is doing very well without its founding member/drummer Mike Portnoy who left the band under difficult circumstances in 2011. It’s time of another “Evening with Dream Theater”!
Like many times before there was no support band on this Dream Theater show. It was announced that the band will perform three hour set including 20 minute break between the first and the second set/act as it was announced on the info, and the show was about to begin at 08:00 PM. And so it did. Following a long animation intro on the projection screens, Dream Theater took the stage to a roaring, near 4000 capacity crowd. They tore into new album opener “The Enemy Inside”. Rarely played BLACK CLOUDS AND SILVER LININGS track “The Shattered Fortress” followed and it got a great response from the crowd. James LaBrie’s vocals were spot on, perfectly clear and as powerful as ever. In fact, it felt that each member was now performing, not just technically perfect, but the band was now more liberated than ever before. As expected, the first set list was pulled mainly from the latest album DREAM THEATER. Altogether five songs were performed from the album but set featured also some choice gems like “Trail of Tears” from highly underrated FALLING INTO INFINITY and a few tracks from the previous DRAMATIC TURN OF RÈVENTS album. “Breaking All Illusion” was the last song on the first part.
By far the best reception was received by new album tracks “The Enemy Inside” and “The Looking Glass”. It seems that both songs are quickly becoming a true Dream Theater classics. Also worthy of mention is Mike Mangini’s outstanding drum solo which was now placed in the middle of “Enigma Machine” instrumental. It’s a fact that Mangini doesn’t have the larger than life presence what his predecessor had but he does provide a needed power, passion and precision, which is what this band needs. He’s definitely the main reason of the bands current more positive and liberated expression. Overall, the first set was pretty entertaining although even though the band focused a little too much their newer material only.
The band returned on stage after a short break. LaBrie briefly introduced the band and announced that next the band is going to celebrate its classic album AWAKE. The album turns twenty years old later this year. Well why not celebrate that? Sounds like a good plan. The first set did not include too many classics but it was now guaranteed to hear at least a few. “The Mirror” opened the game and it was followed by four more AWAKE tracks. “Lie”, “Lifting Shadows off a Dream”, “Scarred” and “Space-Dye Vest” sounded just phenomenal and even the most demanding Dream Theater fans were now satisfied. One minor complaint to this incredible set was the fact they did not play AWAKEN signature masterpiece “6:00”. Instead of that, the band ended this section with new track “Illumination Theory”. It’s a massive opus, which lasts over 22 minutes, and it was simply put in a wrong place. After the classics, this song was, frankly, really numbing to listen to.
The nearly three-hour evening ended with a quartet of brilliant METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM MEMORY songs. Instrumental “Overture 1928” opened the encores and it was followed by awesome “Strange Déjà Vu”, always as mindless “The Dance of Eternity” and a beautiful “Finally Free” which was the very last song of the set. The album is celebrating its 15’th anniversary so this was really great way to close the show.
Dream Theater show in Helsinki was a combination of many highlights along with a few dull moments, but it was however, very consistent as a whole. The band’s musician skills are probably the best in industry and the show looked visually amazing (especially the animations). Instrumentals and extended solos definitely belong to Dream Theater shows. If you can’t stand them, then you are in the wrong place. It’s also great that the band believes in its new album but perhaps a few better known tracks, like “Pull Me Under”, should be added to please fans a bit more. But other than that, there’s nothing to complain and this was definitely a great and enjoyable evening.
BTW: In fact, I really liked the set list because it now happens to include so many tracks from my two personal favorite Dream Theater albums…
The Enemy Inside
The Shattered Fortress
On the Backs of Angels
The Looking Glass
Trial of Tears
(with drum solo by Mike Mangini)
Along for the Ride
Breaking All Illusions
Lifting Shadows Off a Dream
Strange Déjà Vu
The Dance of Eternity