Show Reviews



Dream TheaterThe second annual Progressive Nation Tour — featuring a re-jiggered and suddenly worth seeing lineup of Scale the Summit, Bigelf and Zappa Plays Zappa supporting Dream Theater — hit New York’s historic Beacon Theater on Sunday night. This year’s proggier leaning lineup (last year’s had Opeth, BTBAM and 3 in the support slots) brought out an older-skewed audience, but as is always remarkably the case with Dream Theater there were plenty of youngins in attendance. In fact, the most frequently spotted band t-shirt I saw all night was for The Faceless; stew on that one for a second.

All 10 minutes I caught of Scale the Summit’s set were phenomenal; these dudes are young and full of promise, and their early 2009 release Carving Desert Canyons is a contender for my year-end “best of” list. Half-Finnish prog rockers Bigelf delivered a surprisingly fun set of straight up ’70s prog, recalling equal parts Pink Floyd and King Crimson mixed with vintage stoner (read: Sabbath, Deep Purple) riffs, and their stage presentation was certainly a site to behold. Lead singer Damon Fox played every part the mad hatter he appeared to be, spent half an hour signing autographs and shaking hands at the merch booth, and then gave me some great material on the current state of rock/metal in our post-show interview. Zappa Plays Zappa… I need 75 minutes of this?? Yawn. Instead I chose to yap it up with Eddie Trunk and a few industry heads in the lobby before ascending into the last row of the highest balcony to get high — just before Mike Portnoy came on for a guest singing and drumming appearance on the last song.

Dream Theater were solid if predictable; the proggier nature of this year’s tour and audience meant the setlist didn’t contain many of the heavy favorites I would’ve hoped for, instead including head-scratchers like “Hollow Years” from 1997’s Desmond Child-produced snoozer Falling Into Infinity. Seriously, if I never hear this song again I’ll be just fine. Black Clouds & Silver Linings material included the first two songs of the album as the first two of the set, followed up towards the end with the epic album-highlight “The Count of Tuscany.” The visuals projected above the band on this song, as they did all night, really served to emphasize the lyrics and provided some extra eye-candy for the show (of note: the little animated wizard guy that played an animated keyboard based on what Jordan Rudess played, in perfect sync. see below video for a glimpse). Petrucci was his usual badass self (nice beard, dude) and Portnoy hammed it up behind the kit as always. John Myung was his usual rock solid base, while James Labrie, for all the shit he takes, actually sounded pretty damned good. The encore of “Metropolis, Pt. 1” with special extended jam session was a real treat.

All things considered, it was a fun show. It’d be nearly impossible for me not to enjoy myself at a Dream Theater show; maybe next year’s Prog Nation tour will skew a bit on the heavier side, though.

Check out the excellent live video below posted on Blabbermouth of the song “Prophets of War” (from Systematic Chaos) into “The Dance of Eternity” (from 1999’s masterwork Scenes From a Memory). Flawlessly executed, naturally.


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