Dream Theater, Opeth, Between The Buried and Me, 3 – 5/14/2008

This was a show that I had greatly anticipated for a long time. Opeth and Dream Theater are easily two of my favorite bands, so when I saw them both on the same bill many months ago, I was pretty excited. Both bands put on great live shows as well, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I made the trek down to Detroit with my dad, Jessica, and Mike.

The first band to play was 3. I thought that we’d get there with plenty of time to see the opening bands, but we didn’t. We only caught the last part of one of their songs. It sounded pretty good though, from the five minutes or so that we heard. They had a two drummer setup going, and they were seriously beating on the skins. I would have liked to see more of their set, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Grade: N/A

Between the Buried and Me played second. I hadn’t really been exposed to them in great depth, and for some reason I had the impression that they were going to be another dripping-with-testosterone type band (like Throwdown or Bury Your Dead), but I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t. They do have the crappy barking vocals that is typical for a hardcore/metalcore band, but their music is way more complex. These guys can flat out play, and they pull a ton of different musical styles into their sound. It makes for a pretty cool experience. They only had a half hour so on stage, and they played all of two distinct songs. They wasted no time with blathering between songs either… they pretty much stopped only to announce the name of the second song and get a drink of water, then started playing again. They definitely merited further attention, which is why I bought three of their CDs yesterday. Grade: A

Opeth is the band that I looked forward to seeing the most out of the four. I’ve only seen them once before (compared to Jessica’s ten[!]), and that was an abbreviated set at last year’s Gigantour, where they were only able to play four songs. They ended up getting around an hour on stage this time around, and were able to play six songs – Master’s Apprentices, In My Time of Need, Baying of the Hounds, Heir Apparent, Wreath, and The Drapery Falls. They had a pretty good sampling of songs from their newer albums, but none from the older four albums, which kind of disappoints me. “Still Life” and “My Arms, Your Hearse” are my favorite albums of theirs, and with two shows under my belt, I’ve yet to see them play any songs from those albums live. Oh well… there’s always next time! Mikael Åkerfeldt does a pretty good job of making the breaks between songs interesting as well. He’s always got something funny to say, and it’s pretty obvious to me that he genuinely enjoys putting on a show for the crowd. Grade: A

Dream Theater closed out the show in the way that only they can – with authority. This was the fourth time that my dad and I saw Dream Theater together, and they’ve never once disappointed. I’ve blathered on and on about how good they are in previous posts about them, so I’ll try to save it this time around. This was the first time, however, that I saw them without having heard their most recent release. Their previous release (“Octavarium”), seemed kind of tired to me, and didn’t really grab my interest much at all. Because of that, I didn’t run out and grab their newest (“Systematic Chaos”) when it came out last year. I probably should have grabbed it sooner. They played a few tunes from it, and they were pretty good. They opened the set with an instrumental passage from one of those songs, and I was really digging it. Their set list was expansive, and pretty typical for the shows I’ve seen. They played a good sampling from their albums, and played most of the first act from “Scenes from a Memory”. They didn’t play “Home,” which kind of pissed me off since it is one of my favorite songs of theirs, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One neat thing they did for this tour was turning something that is typically incredibly lame into something totally awesome. Jordan Rudess (the keyboardist) played a key-tar. Yep, the dreaded 80’s pop instrument. In this case though, it was sweet because it gave him the opportunity to step out from behind is mammoth keyboard rig and get up close and personal with the fans like the other band members get to do. He mostly used it in extended “improvised” musical passages that break out of their normal song structures, and used his mobility to add a more visual flare to the frequent traded/harmonized leads that he does with John Petrucci in so many of their songs. I laughed when I first saw it, but it really did add a pretty cool element to their performance, which was already top notch.

The only downer in the show was that they played one of their new songs (I think – I didn’t recognize it) for far too long, and it totally slowed their momentum. It was a slow piece of music, and it seemed to go on FOR EVER. Otherwise, they were phenomenal as always. Grade: A

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