Dream Theater London Palladium 19-02-16

Very rarely in 34 years of gig going do you attend a show and think that was an event a performance a one off.

This was that show.

3 weeks after releasing their new double cd The Astonishing Dream Theater started their world tour in London and we attended night 2 at the London Palladium which we have never been too either.

With a ban on cameras and phones very little had leaked out about night 1 but as we arrived the sense of anticipation amongst fans was palpable.

The stage was set with screens to the back and sides with 4 Dream Theater logos above the screens giving it a floor to ceiling look.

At 8 o clock sharp the lights dropped and the screens flickered into life and for the next 2 and half hours( and 15 minutes break between acts) we were transported into a world of NOMACS ,Ravenskill Rebel Militia and the Great Northern Empire.
I won't go into details as if you are a fan you know already.

It had the feel of a show and with the stunning sound and lighting with the depth of the screens you felt that you were on stage with the band and in their world.

The band as ever were sublime.

Mike Mangini on drums is a monster always improvising and such fast hand speed and using all of his huge kit.His sense of dynamics and when to up the pace was breathtaking.
John Myung on bass was his ever dependable self with his hands a blur as he underpins the whole thing.

Jordan Rudess on keys has a key role with plenty of solo work and starting  and ending many tracks and with his keys on their usual 360 degree base you get to see him play and again his work is outstanding.

James Labrie has for me his finest ever performance.With plenty of singing in a lower register on the slower ballad numbers including the stunning Chosen( best ballad in years)that suits his melodic style to perfection and with him taking the part of 8 characters his range and versatility are tested and he passes with flying colours.

John Petrucci in my eyes is the best guitarist on the planet.He may not be all over this cd but watching him is like watching a master at work.We had the fortune of having seats on his side and along with the others sat there were treated to master class.On every occasion he had a solo we all applauded his work and during his lengthy extended solo towards the end of A New Beginning was just mind blowing.
With Mangini and Myung laying down a heavy beat he moved centre stage and for the next 3 minutes or so we sat spellbound.You could feel the temperature rising in the crowd and as he finished everyone rose to their feet and went nuts with a cheer that The Palladium probably has never heard.
It was an amazing moment.Truly amazing and the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention for minutes afterwards and today 2 days later every time I think of it I can still feel the moment.

It is difficult to pick highlights as it felt like it all was.

The band are playing it all on this tour as a one off never to be repeated and that sense of drama and that feeling of a performance will be remembered by all.

Gift Of Music the first single was an early gift with Labrie's vocal and Petrucci's solo nailed.

The sense of light and shade that I adore was evident throughout as the music ebbed and flowed and every song was finished with huge applause as the last note rang out but on the quieter moments you could have heard a pin drop.

As the first act ended a sense of wonderment came from everyone on how we had been taken on a journey through a progressive masterpiece with everyone playing their part but for me James Labrie takes top billing for his vocals which were emotive and awe inspiring.

15 minutes later and we all seamlessly were transported back into act 2 with 2285 Entra'acte a perfect re introduction before Moment Of Betrayal hit hard and featured some powerful fills from Mangini and more applause for Petrucci after another jaw dropping solo.

As the evening neared conclusion we were all finally standing for  Hymn Of A Thousand Voices which was incredible with the screens showing a choir and the sound seemed to be coming out of the walls in fact everywhere.

Petrucci's riff for Our New World saw fists thrown to the sky and ended the main set with the band retreating for a minute as the NOMACS came crashing to the ground in Power Down before the title track finished an incredible 2 and half hours of music that few if any bands on the planet could even get near.

I think The Astonishing is a modern day classic and now over 30 years into a career they still strive to create music for themselves and their devoted fans which pushes boundaries and sets standards for others to follow.

Dream Theater The Astonishing Live.

It was.

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