Artist: Dream Theater
Date: 9th October
Venue: Manchester Apollo
As total blackness falls, the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation reaches boiling point. The stage is obscured by a giant hanging black cloth. Suddenly a thunder clap and the lightening of strobe lights send the venue into something approaching a frenzy. A single silhouetted figure stands behind the screen, and as the first chord strikes, the curtain drops to almost deafening noise from the crowd. Dream Theater have arrived in the UK.
The American progressive metal band, comprising of five members of virtuosic ability, have had an epic history. Almost 25 years ago, they were formed in the wake of bands such as Pink Floyd and Rush. They have since developed their own distinctive blend of innovative time signatures, pounding metal riffs, soaring vocals, and mind-blowing guitar and keyboard solos.
The set comprised of much of their new album’s material, which ranges from a nineteen minute account of a near-death experience, to a five and a half minute ballad. In a real treat, they also played three consecutive tracks from Scenes from a Memory, their 1999 concept album reckoned by many fans to be their best. Closing their set with the powerful In the name of God, they then returned to play The Count of Tuscany, a from their new album, as their encore.
It’s not just that the lighting is perfectly timed to the music. It’s not just the chemistry between the band or the fact that the crowd knows every beat of every song. Nor is it the twenty minute epic tracks or the blistering solos.
It can only be described as sheer magic.