Dream Theater brought their Distance Over Time tour to Los Angeles, making The Wiltern Theater their bivouac for a two night hitch. In addition to supporting their latest record, the quintet also took occasion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first concept album. The show would be divided into two distinct portions, with the latter being a complete portrayal of Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory.
Friday, March 22nd at a few minutes after 8:00 pm, night two of the brief tenancy officially begins. There is no opening act on this evening, as Dream Theater will treat the capacity crowd to an almost three-hour tour de force. After a dramatic recorded intro, Untethered Angel kicks into gear with its thumping and grinding riff gives way to a melodic groove. The middle of the song features a progressive rock bridge, where John Petrucci, guitarist and founder; Jordan Rudess, keyboards and Mike Mangini spar in a machine gun segment that is closely followed by a fast yet delicate solo from Petrucci. James LaBrie, lead vocalist whose operatic voice is in great form, ingresses and egresses the stage throughout the entire evening. Having what must be one of the best jobs in rock, LaBrie makes an appearance, sings a few verses and exits the stage again while the remainder of the band embarks on a five-minute monstrous jam session.
The opening frame, while only being six songs long consumes almost an entire hour and features four tunes off the latest release, including Fall Into The Light, Barstool Warrior and climaxes with Pale Blue Dot. The group retreats into the wings for a short intermission. The audience takes advantage of the respite to grab refreshments without worry of losing their spot in a rare assigned seating Wiltern floor. The break seems short as the house lights dim again as audience member scramble for their seats.
Part two of the evening begins with the hypnosis session intro of Regression and when the music begins, Petrucci is on a riser next to the drum kit playing the acoustic guitar and LaBrie is seated on the side stairs on the opposite side of the stage. The soft tale of Regression gives way to Overture 1928 and its throbbing guitar and John Myung’s bass bursts. The band takes the riveted audience through the epic about murder and repressed memories of a former life. The entire evening is a feast for both the eyes and the ears. The large screen behind the band portrays visuals to accompany the story and a very tasteful, yet not too elaborate light presentation make the visual impression engaging. The sound of the room is great and really underscores the combination of LaBrie’s on point vocals and the sometimes symphonic and sometimes metal intonations of the rest of the group.
Dream Theater winds down the night with a triumvirate of One Last Time and The Spirit Carries On which features an especially energetic solo from Petrucci between the verses of a message of peace from the main character. Thirdly, Finally Free begins with the emergence from the hypnosis under which the story takes place. The group retreats from the stage only to reappear after a few minutes of the audience’s beckoning wail. They treat the still full theater to a solitary encore song of Pull Me Under which puts an exclamation point on an evening where they clearly gave the fans their money’s worth.
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