DREAM THE­ATER

Prog - - Limelight - ROD WHIT­FIELD

The grand old mas­ters of prog rock and metal take the stage in the grand old dame of Mel­bourne’s live mu­sic scene. A crescendo of or­ches­tral mu­sic her­alds Dream The­ater’s re­turn to Aus­tralian shores for the first time in three years on a night of cel­e­bra­tion. It’s 25 years since the re­lease of the al­bum that truly broke the band world­wide, the soar­ing Images And Words, and both the band and the al­most-ca­pac­ity crowd are in a fes­tive mood.

Be­fore re­vis­it­ing their clas­sic al­bum, the five-piece build a lit­tle ten­sion with an hour-long set of tracks from their back cat­a­logue. There’s mon­strous opener The Dark Eter­nal Night, As I Am (which in­cludes a snip­pet from Me­tal­lica’s En­ter Sand­man), the ex­cel­lent in­stru­men­tal track Hell’s Kitchen and the epic Break­ing All Il­lu­sions, plus a rather dis­cor­dant John Myung trib­ute to clas­sic jazz bassist Jaco Pas­to­rius, namely Por­trait Of Tracy.

Af­ter a 20-minute breather, the band re­turn with a mock ra­dio show com­ing over the PA. Play­ing sev­eral hits from the era in which Images And Words was re­leased, it il­lus­trates the point that they were se­ri­ously go­ing against the grain, stylis­ti­cally, com­pared to what was go­ing on at the time. It didn’t mat­ter – they have sur­vived, pros­pered and ex­celled since then by forg­ing their own unique path.

Has this al­bum stood the test of time? As the an­themic Pull Me Un­der leads into sec­ond track An­other Day, and as the band progress through the track list to the tri­umphant closer Learn­ing To Live, the an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes. These songs tran­scend time and trends, and tonight they’re de­liv­ered with an exuberance that be­lies the band mem­bers’ years, and with the level of tech­ni­cal wiz­ardry they’re fa­mous for. That’s par­tic­u­larly true of John Petrucci, whose gui­tar style jux­ta­poses tech­nique and feel like few other play­ers in his­tory, and who is age­ing like the finest of wine.

For many bands, an hour’s open­ing set and then a clas­sic al­bum played in its en­tirety would have been enough. Many would have taken their bows and re­treated to the af­ter­party and the rider at this point, but not these guys. They be­lieve in the con­cept of giv­ing their fans value for their hard-earned cash, so they delve into an­other DT clas­sic from the 90s, tack­ling all 23 min­utes of the A Change Of Sea­sons EP. Played end to end, this mu­sic sounds as fresh and ma­jes­tic as it did the day it came out.

If there’s a band on the planet who can lay claim to the ti­tle of ‘great­est prog metal band of all time’, here they are. Dream The­ater add fur­ther lus­tre to their il­lus­tri­ous aura tonight.

DREAM THE­ATER EVOKE A “FES­TIVE MOOD” TONIGHT. JAMES LABRIE REACHES FOR THE STARS. “THESE SONGS TRAN­SCEND TIME AND TRENDS, AND TONIGHT THEY’RE DE­LIV­ERED WITH AN EXUBERANCE THAT BE­LIES THE BAND MEM­BERS’

YEARS.” KEYS MAN JORDAN RUDESS.

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