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Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
October 10th 2005
Dream Theater

With many progressive music fans gathered around the Amsterdam Arena waiting for the doors to the Heineken Music Hall to open the t-shirts show you their musical background. While the younger fans tend to wear Dream Theater t-shirts the somewhat older people wear t-shirts of their favourite progressive bands like Yes, Genesis and of course Pink Floyd, shirts like that outnumber those of metal bands by far, yet the general colour remains the same: black.

There is no support act for tonight’s show, there’s just Dream Theater and after the break there’s more Dream Theater. These masters of progmetal have been around for 20 years and that’s what they like to celebrate during tonight’s show. So apart from quite a few new songs of their recent 'Octovarium' album they take us though their musical timeline.

The band kicks off with … from their demo ‘album’ dating back to 1985. LaBrie’s voice is in decent shape tonight, apart from a few misses in the high tones at the beginning he grows into the concert. During ‘Fortune in Lies’ Petrucci does his first solo, successfully and with much appreciation from the audience. Bands like Dream Theater have no problem making long songs but live they just put a little extra in it. During ‘Peruvian Skies’ instrumental intermezzos of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ and Metallica’s ‘Where Ever I May Roam’ were effortlessly integrated in the song. The audience quite liked it and showed its appreciation.
After a 15 minute intermission, there is no way to miss the start of the 2nd part of the show. Violent and loud music takes over the venue before LaBrie enters the stage again. The stage is covered in orange light when Portnoy is doing the backing vocals again, he must have changed during the intermission into a black sleeveless shirt and somehow the need for glasses has gone. Next a show-off battle is between Petrucci and Rudess; on the video screen you can see the hands on the keyboard moving as fast as the hands on Petrucci's guitar. Just before an impressive piece of drumming Portnoy, with a green goatee, asks for a towel, good anticipation to what comes next it seems. After a furious musical break-out LaBrie returns to centre stage bathing in a sinister red light while the screens show flames. LaBrie does this fast vocal parts with ease bent over forward almost face down in the floor spot.

Rudess plays lapsteel on a gel pad touch screen which is mounted on top of his keyboard. On the video screens you can clearly see his fingers sinking into the instrument while he plays it. In the background LaBrie cheers up the crowd to show appreciation for this solo. Then after 5 minutes the band returns on stage to play a powerful piece before they slow down allowing Petrucci to play an acoustic part on his double guitar while LaBrie gets a stool to sit in centre stage. When LaBrie finishes singing he leaves the stage leaving the spotlight to Petrucci for the final tunes of the night.... or not.
When the first notes of ‘As I Am’ start it’s clear: this is full force! Not only the music but the lights as well; they cast a big shadow of LaBrie on the side walls of the venue. While Petrucci talks to the audience it seems LaBrie's shirt needs to be unbuttoned even further before the grand finale. They hit off with ‘Pull Me Under’ which is much to the likings of the audience. But somewhere down the road the band speeds up making it almost impossible for LaBrie to follow. Time for a change into Metropolis part 1; a shame according to some (blasphemy perhaps?), but who are they to judge, it's the band that made these songs that melt them into one, and with much success although we'd all like to hear both of them separately.
The overall sound quality was pretty good, sound levels did allow the audience to listen without ear protection. There just seemed to be a big difference in where you were in the venue when it comes to the balance, in the centre James’ voice was far more clearly present than at the sides.


The stage is in the shape of letter E, with each one of the legs for Myung (left), LaBrie (middle) and Petrucci (right), just behind them a risen drum platform with the huge drum kit of Portnoy and to his left, just besides a huge switchboard box is Rudess behind his rotating keyboards. In the back 3 big video screens which show computer animations, live feed from the stage, album covers, movie clips and still photos as well as an occasional reminder of where we are on the Dream Theater time line. Dressed in a black shirt and jeans LaBrie walks around on stage between the left and centre while moving to the side of the drum kit whenever the music-only parts are played. Petrucci is sort of hiding behind his mic stand, even when not using it; his foot casually resting on a steel support (made in Holland). At times he’s friendly smiling to the audience at others he’s totally focussed on his guitar. To make sure he’s being noticed Mike Portnoy frequently stands up from behind his drums cheering up the crowd. While playing with big arm moves he occasionally throws away drum sticks as if they are for free anyway. To the close observer it is clear that Portnoy is wearing the jersey of the Dutch national team, who just days before qualified for the World Cup 2006.
While playing Petrucci and Myung frequently meet in centre stage performing a guitar battle, heads against each other at times, playing in trance. The live feed shown on the video screens often shows Mike playing at his drums or Rudess playing his keyboards. Nice camera positions make sure you are sucked into their playing, and with an occasional smile they both show to be aware of the cameras and projections. LaBrie seems to try to communicate with his fellow band members but he does a better job with the audience. He thanks them for supporting Dream Theater for 20 years and hope they want the band to do another 20.

When the band starts playing songs of the ‘Octovarium’ album the rather big backdrop is revealed behind the band. James LaBrie in the mean time gets more and more active twirling his mic stand while the rest of the band plays on. After this he leaves the stage, so does the rest of the band, only to return some minutes later for a 20 minute encore. It seems like restraints are gone both with the audience as well as with the band. LaBrie is even wild in his own way on stage making sure the audience sings along during the songs. Then he leaves the stage and allows Petrucci to finish the show centre stage. After the show has finished the band returns on stage to receive their applause, in the back we hear an instrumental version of ‘Singing in the Rain’. A satisfied audience leaves the venue, many will return the next day when Dream Theater will cover a classic album. It was a secret till they played but those who were there were treated with Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.
The lights during the show were plenty, many colours in the background though nothing disturbing the projections of the three big video screens. There was plenty of front light so all band members clearly stood out of the crowd when they were showing off.

00. Intro
01. The Root of All Evil
02. Panic Attack
03. Another Won
04. A Fortune in Lies
05. Under a Glass Moon
06. Caught in a Web
07. Peruvian Jam
08. Peruvian Skies
09. Home
--- intermission ---
10. The Glass Prison
11. This Dying Soul
12. Never Enough
13. Sacrificed Sons
14. Octovarium
15. As I Am
16. Pull Me Under / Metropolis pt 1

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 9

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