Regardless of most people’s personal preferences on favourite artists it is undeniable that Dream Theater are a bunch of the five most talented and technical musicians in the world. They have had a long career of blowing people’s minds with epic anthems that spiral inwards into a cerebral psyche-buggering journey of indulgence. Indulgence that’s justified, it’s not an exhibition of arrogance.
On the eve of 15th February 2014 Dream Theater returned to Wolverhampton after a night at Wembley Arena. As part of the new album release, the Along For the Ride tour has also been titled An Evening With... A theme within Dream Theater tours which means 3 hours of music, no support acts, just Dream Theater. Opening with the first two tracks off of the latest album were a no brainer, the orchestral “False Awakening Suite” tying into “The Enemy Inside” was a brutal beginning to the night. Amping up the tension and then exploding into the furious speed of the instrumental components. The band moved then straight into “Shattered Fortress”. James LaBrie spoke rarely but when he did he was calm, collected and even comedic. During the first Act the band played four new songs, three from ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’ and “Trial of Tears” from ‘Falling into Infinity’.
The second Act was featured five songs from ‘Awake’, which is currently celebrating it’s 20th anniversary. The act closed with “Illumination Theory”, the latest epic that dramatically and beautifully closes the recently released self-titled album. The encore featured songs from ‘Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory’ which in turn is facing it’s 15th anniversary, also meaning it’s the 15th anniversary of keyboardist Jordan Rudess first album with the band.
The night was exceptionally memorable, the band were as tight as they could possible be, LaBrie was on point vocally and the song choices were decent. Whilst not everyone’s favourites were picked, the songs chosen had their place and reason to be there and as LaBrie said himself, the band will likely return to the UK at the end of the world tour. At that point those who want more “hits” or just other songs may get their wish.
Dream Theater are one of the best song writers and performers around. While the music may not be to everyone’s taste it is impossible not to be astounded at the brilliance of the musicians when embracing them for 3 hours on a cold night.
Verdict – 5/5