Dream Theater + Queensryche, 7/17/03

I had been looking forward to this show for quite a while, and for good reason… it was a great show! We had a decent sized group that went – My dad, cousin Alex, my friends Jon and Matt, and myself. Alex got stuck in traffic so we got a bit of a late start. After grabbing food at Burger King, we made our way out to Pine Knob. The place was suprisingly empty… perhaps it was the threat of thunderstorms, or just that nobody knows good music when they hear it.

We missed Fate's Warning which was kind of a bummer. We came in right during the set change, so we didn't miss any of Queensryche's show, so it wasn't all bad. I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of Queensryche since I've only been a fan of theirs for a few months… Well, they didn't disappoint. They came out rocking and didn't really let up. They led off with a couple heavy songs… I think they were Empire, Damaged, and Walk in the Shadows (in no particular order). The heavy songs absolutely rocked. Then they made me very happy by breaking into a few songs off of Operation Mindcrime (Anarchy X, Revolution Calling, Speak, and Eyes of a Stranger), and those were all way sweet as well. After that, they played Silent Lucidity, Jet City Woman, N M 156, and a few other songs I didn't recognize, plus a new song off their upcoming album. The new song was pretty cool, except there was a pseudo-rap type part in it that was definitely out of place in their style. Overall, they rocked. Geoff Tate has an amazing voice, with the ability to go from the low to high with no difficulty or loss of clarity. Simply a phenominal vocalist. Both of their guitarists are excellent, and played off each other really well. There were quite a few times where they would get together and play harmonized lead lines, and they nailed them. There aren't too many things cooler than when two sweet guitarists are in sync and excelling at their craft. Grade: A.

Dream Theater was the main reason I went to this show. I've been a huge fan of theirs for about a year now, and they certainly don't disappoint in a live setting. There are plenty of bands who sound good in the studio but can't carry that precision and intensity on the road. Dream Theater certainly isn't in this class. They come out with the energy of a hurricane and never relent. they opened up with one of their best songs, Metropolis Part I, and then carried the theme on by playing the first couple songs off of Scenes From a Memory (Overture 1928 and Strange Deja Vu). That was a good solid 15 minutes of sheer prog-metal bliss. Jon was quite impressed, since they played Metropolis and then went straight into the other songs, without stopping. It is pretty amazing that anyone has the stamina to do that, since all those songs are very lead oriented and would probably turn the bodies of mere mortals to jello in short order. After that, they calmed things down a bit and played Hollow Years. After that I don't remember the exact order, but they played a good selection of songs… They played the whole Mind Beside Itself trilogy (Erotomania, Voices, and The Silent Man), Under a Glass Moon, Solitary Shell, Pull Me Under, one song I didn't recognize (could be off When Day and Dream Unite, I don't own that one and have never heard it… also could have been new!), and maybe one other song. The only thing that disappointed me about their set was that the mixing seemed a bit off… The keyboards and vocals seemed a bit too loud, and the mics on the drums were too quiet. Mike Portnoy's double bass runs were hardly audible, which is quite a shame. They bring a lot of energy to the songs. John Petrucci was on (as per usual). It's really not fair how good he is. His playing is precise, effortless, and incredibly fast. John Myung's bass was just as amzing… He plays without a pick on a six string bass, and can probably keep up with Petrucci in just about any circumstance. He's got to be the most active bass player I've ever seen. Portnoy was his energetic self, dropping synchopated rhythms and bass drum heroics with no effort at all. Jordan Rudess's keyboard was also pretty incredible… he totally Wowed Alex with some of the lines played. Grade: A+

Dream Theater finished up at about 10:25 with the usual “Thank you goodnight, see you in 45 seconds for the encore” spiel, and I expected to see them come out and play another couple songs and then call it a night… Well, they did, but I was very plesantly suprised when Queensryche came out and took the stage with them!! All 10 people from both bands were out there playing… The first song they played was Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, and they nailed it. Geoff Tate sang the Roger Waters part, and James LaBrie took care of the David Gilmour Part. Their voices were a perfect match, almost as good as Waters and Gilmour. One of Queensryche's guitarists handled the first solo beautifully, and Petrucci took care of the second one with authority. I would have loved to have that one on tape… Next, they all played The Spirt Carries On (a Dream Theater tune). The studio version of that song has a female voice singing for a while in the middle of the song, and Tate took that part on and nailed it. I wouldn't have expected a male voice to sound right there, but it sounded great. It's another tribute to his voice that he can sing in such a gentle way. That song is quite long, with lots of solos… The cool thing was that Petrucci was the one handling the rhythm for the most part, and the Queensryche guys were playing his solos! Quite a cool display. The last song of the night was a Queensryche song, but I'm not sure of the name of it (maybe Best I Can?). It was quite a jam, and the hightlight of it for me was seeing both drummers playing along side of each other inside of Portnoy's Siamese Monster drum kit in perfect unison. They also did the reverse of the Dream Theater song here, with Petrucci handling the solos and the Queensryche guitarists holding down the rhythm fort.

Overall, I couldn't really ask more out of a concert. Sure, Dream Theater's mix could have been a bit better, but that could also be a result of the spot where we were sitting. Seeing two incredible bands perform their best material would have been good enough, but seeing them together for the encore made it truly memorable. Grade: A+++

Matt also posted a review, and it can be viewed here.

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