Okay, so...I talked to JP last night after the show in Reno, and he shared the set list with me. First off, no, I will not tell you the entire set list and will not confirm or deny guesses...for the most part. I will drop some details here and there, but not enough for people to piece the set together. But for now, suffice to say: This is not something to be missed. People will DEFINITELY enjoy this show. If you can go to one of these dates, DO IT!
Just for curiosity... he shared in the sense that he told you "We're gonna play this, this and that and also we're gonna do this big epic" or he actually showed you / listed you the entire setlist, song by song? in this second case I thought only Portnoy planned in such advance!
He showed me the exact set list, written out. Part of the reason it is planned out so far in advance is because they have basically been touring nonstop with only short breaks. And there is more planned. They are not going to have a ton of time to rehearse before they start playing this stuff. So even though it is possible that things could change somewhat between now and the time that tour leg gets going, they have it pretty much dialed in so that they can start rehearsing the set from start to finish and be prepared. Also, keep in mind that even though Mike Mangini has been in the band 6 years and is both a phenomenal player and a phenomenal student of music, he is still the "new guy" in the band and has not played the majority of the DT catalog, so he has a lot of learning to do any time they add new songs that he has not played. So a couple of things to keep in mind related to that:
1. This era of the band has a slightly different mindset than the prior version of the band. They aren't going for the "fly by the seat of our pants" vibe and just throwing stuff together because it might be fun to try. The overall band mindset for their live performances is, they want to present shows that are well rehearsed and well produced, and that come across as very polished. They don't want to, for example, come up with a set of all new material that some or all of the members feel less than 100% ready to present in a very polished form. They want everyone on stage to feel 100% comfortable with all the material so they can deliver these songs in their best, most energetic form.
2. The above also means that the sets will not consist of all new material that Mangini has never played before. To make sure Mike isn't overwhelmed, they will absolutely be playing some songs that they have already played with him on prior tours. But there will definitely be SOME songs that he has not played on yet. And...related to that, there will definitely be some songs that the band has not played in a VERY long time (or ever). They are trying to put together a good mix of new and old, but the overall mindset was along the lines of, "Let's pick songs that we know are crowd pleasers that the audiences have really reacted well to, and let's go out there and just try to have as much fun as possible." I really think they have done a great job of putting together a set that is going to put huge smiles on most fans' faces.
3. Kind of redundant, but just to be clear: They will
be playing songs that Mangini has played live with the band. Because they are still touring in support of The Astonishing, that album will definitely be represented. But there will be other songs, both new and old, that Mangini has played with them before. But again, they consciously decided to pick songs that have really developed a solid live following that audiences have reacted well to. Having seen the list myself, and knowing what the feedback has been on these forums to a lot of those songs, I agree that they picked GREAT selections from that standpoint.
For now, here's a tidbit about the Images & Words set: Confirmed that the plan is to play all songs in their entirety
! So, for example, they will not chop the "if there's a pensive fear" verse out of Take the Time. They are going to go for it, and James is completely on board. As John put it, "James is going to have to eat his Wheaties for this tour!"