Chris Loomis

Dream Theater and The Crimson Projekct @ City National Grove of Anaheim – 7/3/2012

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Grammy nominated progressive rock Gods Dream Theater is continuing their North American “A Dramatic Tour of Events” through the end of July in support of their late 2011 release A Dramatic Turn of Events. Dream Theater embarked on the initial North American trek of this tour in late 2011, has played various parts of the world since (including several shows in Asia) and is now back in the USA before heading to South America in mid-August.

Along for the opening spot on this tour is The Crimson Projekct featuring members of legendary progressive rockers King Crimson (The Crimson Projekct is actually a combination of two power trios – The Stick Men with Tony Levin on bass, Pat Mastelotto on drums and Markus Reuter on guitars and The Adrian Belew Power Trio with Adrian Belew on guitar/vocals, Julie Slick on bass and Tobias Ralph on drums). Crimson Projekct played an entertaining 45 minute set of inventive, radical King Crimson music. The setup of having two bass players, two drummers and two guitarists provided a unique progressive experience that the crowd appeared to thoroughly enjoy and proved to be the perfect way to warm them up for the mighty Dream Theater.

Dream Theater played an epic two hour set to what appeared to be a full house in Anaheim . . . yes it was the night before a holiday (July 4rth) and yes they played only 45 miles north in Los Angeles just the night before and yes the played this same venue only 6 months earlier in late 2011 but the southern California Dream Theater devotees packed the venue to once again witness Dream Theater’s high-energy performance.

This band is one of those groups that can play just about any song off any of their 11 studio albums live and continue to get amazing crowd reactions. Dream Theater also has such an amazing catalogue that they never play a setlist that resembles the setlist from previous tours. For this tour they are continuing to focus on their latest masterpiece A Dramatic Turn of Events playing five songs from that album. This time in Anaheim playing two songs not played back in December This is the Life and Lost not Forgotten.

The elaborate stage setup includes three large 3-dimensional cubes across the back of the stage and the focal point being Mike Mangini’s monstrous drum kit with four bass drums. Although the focus of the show is obviously the music but the extravagant and complicated light show and visuals played on the cubes add to the brilliance of the performance. This all makes you forget you are viewing the show in a small venue as it feels more like a large arena show.

It goes without saying the precision and instrumental knowledge that each member of Dream Theater possess and on this night keyboardist Jordan Rudess and guitar virtuoso John Petrucci had the opportunity to exhibit their talents each performing a solo on their respective instruments. Rudess is a mastermind on the keyboards and synthesizers. He moved between his stationary keyboards and shoulder keyboard/synthesizer creating an amazing wave of noises and sounds. John Petrucci displayed his technical precision and riffing skills on the guitar which few can emulate. Instrumental solos often lead too much of the crowd taking the opportunity to make a trip to the bar or a pit stop in the restroom but regardless of who plays the solo in this band the audience seems to remain and watch attentively.

During the first leg of the tour new drummer Mike Mangini proved his drumming skills to the Dream Theater skeptics after drummer Mike Portnoy left the band. Mangini is dwarfed by his massive kit but I am certain he hits every one of the dozens of pieces that make up the colossal drum set. Mangini’s rhythm section partner John Myung who is probably the most reserved of the group lets his playing do the talking. Myung plays a six string bass using a hybrid of techniques including finger picking, tapping and slapping to create his wall of artistic sounds.

Singer James LaBrie’s vocals were spot on this night and his interaction with the crowd added to the energy of the show. There was no barrier separating the crowd from the stage this night at The Grove so the fans were able to push up right against the stage getting as close to the band as possible making for a very intimate vibe between the band and audience.

The night ended with the epic 9 minute classic Metropolis-Part.1 (“The Miracle and the Sleeper”) from the 1992 classic Images and Words. Dream Theater puts on one of the most entertaining shows in the music industry today and any fan of progressive music should not miss their show when they hit your town. Dream Theater continues their North American tour through July and then heads to South America through August where they will film a live DVD.

Dream Theater Setlist:
Bridges in the Sky
The Dark Eternal Night
This is the Life
The Root of All Evil
Lost Not Forgotten
A Fortune in Lies
On the Backs of Angels
War Inside My Head
The Test that Stumped Them
The Spirit Carries On
Breaking All Illusions

Metropolis-Part 1: (The Miracle and the Sleeper)

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