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, 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 since those days, and many things have changed. The band has released many 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 new drummer Mike Mangini now replaces him.
Dream Theater arrived a few days earlier to rehearse and prepare for the upcoming massive European tour. As a matter of fact, the whole touring cycle of DRAMATIC TOUR OF EVENTS started 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 godforsaken 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. Insane and unexpected technical problems plagued the band‘s debut gig on their first-ever European tour. The computer device went down and had a severe 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 Periphery’s stuff, well, they were just another boring band playing some weird “jump core” stuff. In brief, they were worthless support bands and the wrong place at the wrong time.
After the mandatory roadie break, the stage was ready for the progressive metal maestros. The gig started 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 the new album track “Bridges in the Sky” and was followed by the 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 and 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’s mother recently passed away; therefore, “The Spirit Carries On” had been dedicated to her memory.
To be honest, sometimes Mike Portnoy’s role in the Dream Theater had become larger than the band itself. His charismatic and robust personality in terms of charge of the music-making played a strong role in Dream Theater for obvious reasons. Other Dream Theater members got a bit into the shadow on the stage when Portnoy dominated by taking an active part 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 entirely new and extremely positive mood amongst the members. It did seem that each band member now had more space to move and breathe on the stage.
The sound was astonishing and as sharp as a blade and as a whole the two-hour prog-metal marathon. Overall, this was a phenomenal performance from the band in which heavy songs with 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 most professionally. It’s funny to notice that Myong is always the same without any grin or eye contact with the audience after all these years. As for Mangini, he fits Dream Theater more than well. His passion, dedication, and his skills are needed parts of the puzzle of Dream Theater. The band has found the real jewel behind the drum kit, which was 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 at the end of the show, someone threw a huge poster to Magnini saying, “ Welcome to the family, Mike.”
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 loyal fans. The success of Dream Theater in Finland thru the years has been strong and loyal. For sure, this band will be seen in Finland several times in the years to come.
Bridges in the Sky
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
The Root of All Evil
Mike Mangini’ drum solo
A Fortune in Lies
The Silent Man (acoustic)
Beneath the Surface (acoustic)
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