Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress Koko London 28-06-17

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First up was Next To None who contain in their ranks Max Portnoy on drums yes the son of Mike with their second album Phases due for release next week.

Their 45 minutes set was for me a bit of a mess.At times the 4 piece seemed to be playing a different song with way too many styles thrown in.Melodic keyboards and vocals turned to thrash guitar riffs and growling vocals in the matter of seconds and maybe the phrase less is more comes to mind and they need to look at finding an identity and not try to be everybody all at once.

Max is a fine drummer with a style similar to his dad but ending the set with a 19 minute er epic where again there was a 100 musical changes was a strange decision as all of any energy from the crowd was lost.

No chance of that happening as for fans of Dream Theater this was like all of our christmases and birthdays had come all at once.

Between 2001 and 2009 Mike Portnoy wrote  five very personal interconnecting songs with Dream Theater about his battle with addiction but never got to play them live before his departure from the band.

The Twelve-Step Suite features the tracks The Glass PrisonThis Dying SoulThe Root Of All EvilRepentance and The Shattered Fortress.

They appeared on 2002’s Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, 2003’s Train Of Thought, 2005’s Octavarium, 2007’s Systematic Chaos and 2009’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings respectively.
At his 50th birthday bash earlier this year he along with his specially chosen band being the members of Haken Ross Jennings on vocals, Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths on Guitar, Conner Green on bass and Diego Tejeida on keyboards and guitarist extraordinary Eric Gillette to bring this piece of music to light.
Promoters around the world then came with offers and so here we are at the first night of Mike Portnoy's Shattered Fortress and once this tour is over that is it so a real event to say i was there.
The anticipation amongst the crowd was immense and the mass sing along to Dream Theater's The Best Of Times just before the band hit the stage was amazing.
Over the course of an hour and 50 minutes we are taken on a journey into a man's battle with addiction and also 5 tracks from the magnificent Scenes Of A Memory cd which for me was mind blowing as one of my all time favourite albums.
Here is what they played.
Prelude (Bernard Herrmann song from the original film score Psycho)
Overture 1928
Strange Deja Vu
The Mirror
Twelve Step Suite
The Glass Prison
This Dying Soul
The Root Of All Evil (Eric Gillette on vocals)
Repentance (Mike Portnoy on vocals)
The Shattered Fortress
Encores of
The Dance Of Eternity
Finally Free (with Metropolis 2000 outro and Fortune in Lies tease)

With projections from throughout Dream Theater's career on the screen at the back adding to the spectacle as the band hit the stage the crowd erupted in any outpouring of love for a man and his music.
The crowd sang along to guitar riffs with whoa whoa's ringing in the air and at the back Mike on his huge drum kit had the biggest grin I have ever seen.
Overture 1928 went into Strange Deja Vu and the crowd singing was as loud as I have ever heard it.Ross Jennings on vocals put in a great shift without the vocal gymnastics of James Labrie and the rest of the band were spot on and for the first night of the tour were very tight so I expect rehearsals had been extensive.
A back drop showing the next song was The Mirror was greeted like a long lost friend.mid song Diego came out from behind his keys and played keytar to great effect before an evening highlight.John Petrucci's original guitar solo is one of his very best and Eric Gillette totally nailed it.After seeing him recently with Mike in The Neal Morse Band the man is a true star with a melodic and soulful tone and he can also shred with the best of them and this solo had the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention.Wow.
After Mike giving a short introduction to the band and the evening we then went into Mike's soul for the 12 Step Suite with the music ebbing and flowing and the crowd reaction huge.
Every song was played with a feel and meaning and Mike's drum barrage was every bit as good as anyone could have hoped.
Eric Gillette stepped forward to the mic for The Root Of All Evil and showed as he had with Neal Morse a superb voice and another jaw dropping guitar solo the man really has it all.
Repentance saw Mike on vocals and he was joined on the screen with assorted friends as he is on the album track before The Shattered Fortress crashed it all to a close and an audience reaction to match.
They were soon back for a 3 song encore all off Scenes Of A Memory with more crowd singing theatrics and after a quick bit of Metropolis the evening was brought to a close as I thought it might with the epic Finally Free.The song ends with over the course of 2 minutes Mike going through his full range as he does a different fill about 50 times always ending back at the same place and showing us there are very few who can match his phenomenal talents.
As a one off this was very special with an energy in the room rarely seen and Mike genuinely moved at playing the songs again and a chance to say good bye to the Dream Theater songs that are so much a part of the man.Until the reunion maybe?Just speculating!!
After a lengthy wait afterwards Mike came out to greet fans looking totally out on his feet and moved by the whole experience as we were too.
A wonderful night.

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