TVD Live Shots: Dream Theater at the Wiltern Theatre, 3/21

If you’re a fan of Dream Theater, it should come as no surprise that the band is still at the top of their game. For others who may be just getting to know these prog legends, there is quite a bit to learn about a band who has touched so many and given so much over a near 35-year career in the music industry.

From their early days when they were known simply as Majesty to the present, Dream Theater has continued to create a distinctive brand of progressive rock that engages the mind and inspires the soul with followers all around the world. Consummate story tellers, Dream Theater has a unique way of enlightening their audience through their incredible passion for music—an art that is very rare (and truly under-appreciated) in music’s modern era.

On March 21st, Dream Theater brought the latest chapter in their evolution to the Wiltern Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Prior to the show getting underway, the band always takes some time to meet their most loyal fans in a special VIP meet and greet session. What is different about these sessions from other commercial VIP events is that the band interacts with each of their fans personally. Some got autographs from their favorite band members, others had their unique Dream Theater memorabilia signed, and most took advantage of the cool photo-op with the band. Fans were never rushed, and the band seemed truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support received throughout the event.

As the lights finally dimmed at The Wiltern, the near-capacity crowd rose to their feet and greeted Dream Theater to the stage with a raucous standing ovation. Giant floor to ceiling LED screens illuminated those in attendance as “Untethered Angel” kicked the night into immediate hyperdrive. As the first track released from Distance over Time wound down, front man James Labrie immediately launched into Black Clouds and Silver Linings’  “A Nightmare to Remember”—some of the most technically proficient music I have ever seen performed in a live setting.

Bassist John Myung and Drummer Mike Mangini played out of their minds the entire evening, while keyboardist Jordan Rudess did things with his keyboard that should not be humanly possible. James LaBrie’s vocals were spot on and left no doubt why he is still considered one of the finest progressive frontmen to ever grace the mic. And then there was guitarist John Petrucci. He never fails to amaze on his 7-string with lightning fast riffs that seem to come as effortlessly as the tide ebbs and flows. Petrucci’s performance Thursday night was simply breathtaking.

After Dream Theater wrapped up the six-songs of Act 1 (and took a well-deserved break), they returned to the stage for Act 2 and played in its entirety what many consider to be one of the finest progressive rock albums of all-time, 1999’s Metropolis Pt. 2 – Scenes from a Memory. Live, this 12-song masterpiece captured the true essence of the studio recording—not only was the musicianship solid, the chemistry that this band of brothers demonstrated throughout this set was truly epic. It was clear to all that these guys love playing with one another which took their performance to a whole new level. My favorite tracks from this Act included “Through Her Eyes” and “Home,” both contrasting nicely and demonstrating the band’s range.

After a quick break, Dream Theater wrapped up night one of their two night stand at The Wiltern with what is considered their most recognizable song, “Pull Me Under.” Man, this one took me right back to 1992’s Images and Words (which is by far my favorite Dream Theater recording) and these guys slayed it. From Petrucci’s familiar guitar intro onward, the audience was on their feet and rushing the stage as Thursday’s show came to its conclusion—the perfect way to cap off an amazing evening with the reigning Kings of Prog.

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