So, any other fellow countrymen attended this show? I did, and it was awesome!
Wall of text incoming, I have to relive the wonderful memories of last night!!!! and this seems the appropriate place to do it
The band was at the top of their form, James included. I'm not a musician so I can't be educated about what the other guys musically are doing but DAMN, seeing them go through effortlessly through the heavy, the melodic and the complex parts is always something to behold! And James last night was on fire, he was even a better frontman than usual. Can't exactly pinpoint what it was, but something in his movements, the way he was handling the stage and talking to the audience was just... right and fitting, for lack of a better term. He kept the show going really well, even doing little but useful things like coming out to sing at the climax of the instrumental sections rather than at the last possible second. For example, for Pull Me Under he didn't wait until his part to come out, he did it when the song kicked in after the intro and saying "Here we go!!!!!"... simple but effective things like that.
He also sang all the songs remarkably well, he never lost power; we all know and heard how when he goes high, he kinda loses quality and clarity on the pronunciation and somehow "slurs" the line, but that's the "worst" that happened, at times he was just perfect and in the mellow, soft moments he was enchanting as only he can do. I was always a big fan of James, and this evening only cemented my admiration for him!!!
Stage set was cool as well, no longer the screens but a panel of squares behind them that would get illuminated in an evocative way, fitting the mood of the song. The big screen of the Along for the Ride tour was awesome, but also this stage was great.
Now, some quick memories of the entire set... the venue they've playing since forever was full, weird choice of having everyone sitting down even in the parterre. The music before the show was cool - Rush, Metallica, Deep Purple, AC/DC, and then for the very last song before the show started and the intermission, it was silly and mood-killing lounge / pop music, go figure! Anyway, they started right on time, a very cool and bombastic orchestral intro, the right kind of music to pump up the tension, and then.... The Dark Eternal Night. Goddamn that song is atrocious, why must I hear it at the beginning of a show!!! I'll admit the chorus and the outro jam kinda work live, and I envy those of you who like the song 'cause you have 10 more minutes of DT discography to enjoy, but damn.
They immediately let me forgive them with the next song, James talked about the "self titled" but I had a brain fart and thought of it as "title track" so I was thinking about recent title tracks (there weren't any) when they started with The Bigger Picture!!! awesome song, and it went down incredibily well live.
Next was Hell's Kitchen, never heard it in full! I thought it would segue into Lines in the Sand, but it was The Gift of Music instead, much better than the last show when James was sick (the show the day after would have been cancelled). Then played Our New World afterwards, it was kinda weird to go from the beginning of the story to the end, like having Strange Deja Vu followed by Finally Free, and I was hoping for Three Days or even Ravenskill (Only later I would have found out that two songs were dropped after the first two shows), but uh well.
Then James Myung got a solo spot, whohooo!!! Did he ever get one? I was there with a buddy from work (12th concert for me, 19th for him) who is a bassist, and he was on cloud nine for hearing Portrait of Tracy. I thought it would segue into Panic Attack, but it was As I Am instead. I had forgot how addictive the song was live, it pumped the adrenaline very well! And I didn't notice the change of riff at the end until James started to sing Enter Samdan, for the snippet of the first verse and chorus, awesome!!! Also at the end they closed the song "normally" without the studio outro of the song, sure it's cool to have it immediately following into the next song but I never understood while, since 2003, they felt they absolutely had to mantain the studio ending of the song.
Next one was Breaking All Illusions, and it was PERFECT. As I said before James loses clarity while still keeping the high notes, not this time! He sang the entire song in perfect tone, both the low and the high parts, and it was simply amazing! the entire band seems to have a kick by playing this song, no wonder they keep it in the set.
Then it was intermission time, and we all knew what would be coming next... it was a nice idea to have a radio intro of all the songs of that era (1992), and hear the snippet about the "new" Dream Theater album of the time... Images and Words!!! Pull Me Under was obviously met with a roar of the public, my buddy immediately noticed it was de-tuned a half tone but I would have not noticed. I'm all for it, instruments don't age, singers do - what's the point of forcing James to choke on himself to try to sing notes from a quarter of century and a vocal chords rupture ago??? and as I said, I didn't even notice, it was not THAT blatant.
Well, it's superflous to say what happens at a DT show when they play Pull Me Under, but the enthusiasm was kept high even during Another Day... another solid performance from James and half the place lighted up with camera lights.
Take the Time was another storm, James after all held well during the insane middle part, and there's something only we italians have with this song - the chance to sing out loud the "Ora che ho perso la vista, ci vedo di pił" sample, nowhere else you'll see James pointing the mic to the audience to let everyone sing it
Surrounded was great too, at the beginning and the end I even took away my earplugs to hear James singing the soft parts. I know some people are not overly fond of his most "breathy" soft moments, but he didn't go overboard with those, he was clear in his singing, and I was completely mesmerized at the beauty of his voice. I absolutely adore those moments from him, no other way to put it!
Metropolis was next, and once again, I don't need to explain what it's like to hear Metropolis live. Only minor complaint is that the drum solo felt kinda gratuitous and out of place, it sounded literally stuck there suddenly just because. There could have been other places in the instrumental section to place it, for example the moment near the end where they usually stop blacking out the stage.
Under a Glass Moon was good, but once again I have to praise James on his wonderful rendition of Wait to Sleep, which had a new piano intro from Jordan. Once again I took away the earplugs to hear only his voice and Jordan's piano, he was absolutely mesmerizing and a joy for the hears. The way he also modulated some of the vocal lines of the song to make it more heartfelt... simply wonderful! as I said - I simply adore the man. Everyone's tastes is to be respected, but those who don't like his style don't know what they're missing!
Learning to Live of course closed the set, once again it was a great rendition from the band. James sang it well from beginning to end, he managed to hit the famous note in the "whaaa, haaa, haaa" part, he just didn't keep it and stopped immediately. Standing ovation by the public at the end, and for the obvious encore, I was there with crossed fingers... there was only ONE song I wanted to hear.
And I heard it. 17 years after the first and only time. A CHANGE OF SEASONS!!! I roared in joy at the beginning, screaming like after a goal of your team, and I felt I was the only one exploding with joy, where was the roar from the audience that welcomed Pull Me Under??? c'mon people, you're hearing A Change of Seasons, tear down the roof!!!!!
I have to say that in this song, only occasion of the concert, I really noticed the click track. Innocence was SLOW, it was almost mood killing to hear it played that slow! The rest of the song was great, especially Another World was amazing - James sang it with passion and power, way better than the Live Scenes from NY version. And also The Crimson Sunset went down well, and the band closed with once again a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd.
So, all in all:
- Great performance from an energetic band, who was clearly having a good time on stage
- Absolutely convincing and solid performance from James, both as a singer and frontman, the detuning was not a cheat but a smart and necessary move
- Many little variations and new jams / outros, for those complaining that the song were exactly the same as the studio version now that they play to a click track
- Memorable rendition of their classic album and of their biggest opus
And all of this cements my love and appreciation for Dream Theater and for that amzing singer that James LaBrie is, and I can't wait for the next concert!!! Pics will follow soon, I took a lot of them and I hope some of them are good enough to share. Long live Dream Theater!!!! Ps: what the hell was up with Mangini's fluorescent green shoes?