Progressive rock and metal have always been one of my favorite genres of music. From bands like Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd, the progressive sound is unique, memorable, and of course artistic. There’s a blend in that sound that’s carefully constructed to make a song stand out amongst others. And one band that does it best is Dream Theater. Starting back in 1985 the band’s journey has been a story of change and amazing triumphs. With 14 studio albums, 1 EP, and multiple live CDs and DVDs, Dream Theater’s music drew in fans worldwide. The band’s live shows became legendary for their lengthy performances, unique setlists per city, and impromptu events such as birthday celebrations for their crew or dragging audience members on stage. Dream Theater is royalty in the world of progressive rock and metal. On April 24, 2019, Dream Theater had a tour stop in Orlando, FL at the Hard Rock Live. The band is supporting their 14th studio album Distance Over Time and also celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 5th studio album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. Dream Theater is James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitar), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), and Mike Mangini (drums).
The Hard Rock Live floor was set with seating all around the floor and sides. Fans of all ages packed in the seats tight and you could feel the excitement. There was no opening act and it was expected Dream Theater would provide a nearly 3-hour performance. It was my very first opportunity to see the band perform live and I was just as excited as everyone else. The lights went down and the video screen on stage lit up providing what looks to be the inside of a starship with pods and people at stations. The words “Distance Over Time” flash across a terminal, leading to a voracious roar from the crowd. A robot appears working through a screen of what appear to be Dream Theater album covers. The words “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” appear, bringing the crowd to another roar. The music continues to build until the blue lettering is viewed from various angles finally displaying “Dream Theater” which has the crowd on their feet and bringing the band on stage.
They opened with “Untethered Angel” from Distance Over Time and one of singles released from the album. A beautiful song that provides a perfect blend of vocals and music. They followed up with “A Nightmare To Remember” from Black Clouds & Silver Linings and then “Fall Into The Light” from Distance Over Time. The crowd was on their feet the whole time focused in on the performance. James’ vocals were perfect as he was also rocking a Sons of Anarchy shirt. During the set, Jordan actually whipped out a keytar and rocked that the same way any guitarist with jam out a solo. It was amazing to see. John, as usual, rocked the guitar, making it play notes only he could pull off. John was very much in the zone during the performance, grinning as he played. And Mike had a complex and beautiful drum set where he hit every piece possible providing vibrant drum beats. After they finished their small set, Dream Theater took an intermission before their second half.
When Dream Theater came back to the stage, James explained it was the 20th anniversary of their 5th album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. He gave a little history on how the album was originally meant to be a follow-up song to “Metropolis – Part 1” from the album Images and Words back in 1992. Instead, the follow-up song became a concept album. The story, inspired by the 1991 movie Dead Again, follows a man named Nicholas who is learning about his own past life of a woman named Victoria Page. Nicholas is investigating Victoria’s murder and the love triangle she was involved in.
Hearing the entire album played live was a wonderful and unique experience. You immediately get wrapped up in the story and taken through the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster. The screen behind the band played some animated videos in spots to help fill in the place in the story. The lighting set the mood perfectly. And the crowd was hushed throughout their songs enraptured in the moment. And when Dream Theater finished, they thanked the crowd and walked off stage. Their setlist for that night was:
- Untethered Angel
- A Nightmare to Remember
- Fall Into the Light
- Barstool Warrior
- In the Presence of Enemies, Part 1
- Pale Blue Dot
Act 2 (Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory)
- Overture 1928
- Strange Déjà Vu
- Through My Words
- Fatal Tragedy
- Beyond This Life
- Through Her Eyes
- The Dance of Eternity
- One Last Time
- The Spirit Carries On
- Finally Free
Dream Theater lived up to every expectation I had that evening of their live performances. This was an amazing show and as much I would have liked to hear more from the new album, the show was perfect. If Dream Theater is on tour at a city near you, do not miss this performance. Click HERE to see the full gallery of photos from the show. For more Dream Theater music, merchandise, and tour information visit their website at http://dreamtheater.net/.