Dream Theater -- Philadelphia, PA -- July 31st, 2009
First one of these I get to post from attendance.
01.A Nightmare to Remember
02.A Rite of Passage
06.Prophets of War
07.The Count of Tuscany
08.Metropolis Pt. 1
Now, for a semi-proper review:
The times were wrong and the doors opened at 6:20, not 5 as originally planned. Scale the Summit went on at 7pm sharp, and I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed these guys. They are incredibly tight, especially for a bunch of musicians in my general age bracket. Their obvious lack of attention to how important appearance is hurt them a little bit, since they couldn't have dressed and acted like bigger schmucks on-stage. But the playing was great. I can't give a full set list but they played a total of 5 songs, including The Great Plains, City in the Sky, and they ended with Sargasso Sea. I felt a little bad for them having to play to a generally empty place, but I still feel they're getting a ton of deserved exposure from this.
After an extremely timely change-over, Bigelf hit the stage around 7:45. I have never seen a band who so embodied the sound and look of an entire other musical era. For their set, I felt as though I was sitting at a show and the year was 1974. Between their singer playing a really classic dirty-organ, the old-school 70s tones, looks, general feel of the music, it was just really strange. I couldn't even really get past how surreal it felt to watch them. Their set was a bit here and there for me. Some of the more rockin' jam-ish parts were pretty cool but there were some dull moments as well. Not bad at all, but not exactly my kind of thing.
And Brad, you owe me for this:
Bigelf set list:
01.The Evils of Rock and Roll
I'm guaranteed to piss people off with this next tidbit, but basically between talking to people (including Scale the Summit), and taking advantage of comfortable couch located in the lobby upstairs, I wound up sitting out of all of Zappa Plays Zappa's set. I could hear and see a bit thanks to the sound and the screens at the bar, but I really just didn't have any interest in paying closer attention, which was an opinion definitely shared by many other people around us. However, you wouldn't know that from inside, because as we came in as they ended, half of the audience were going fucking nuts, so there really just be something I don't get here.
Anyway, after yet another timely change-over, Dream Theater hit the stage around 10:20pm. I absolutely loved the decision to not drop the curtain until the full band kicked in on the first track, but half of the cloth got caught on Petrucci's side and it took the crew about 20 seconds to fix it, so a little glitch to start things off. As I expected, A Nightmare to Remember made a pretty cool opener despite my feelings of the track in the studio. The mellow section was brilliant, again as expected. I was actually pretty surprised about the later portions of the song not dragging much, and before I knew it we were in A Rite of Passage. The mellow acoustic-ish jam in D minor which followed made it somewhat apparent that Hollow Years would follow, which it did. This was definitely one of the highlights for me, especially Petrucci's extended guitar solo which was absolutely phenomenal. I do frown upon the band's decision to play some odd demo version of the song which includes like 8 extra measures in the pre-chorus, which threw the entire audience for a loop.
Moving on, the audience was treated to Erotomania and Voices from Awake, both of which were received very well by both the new and the old fans. By the middle of Voices, James labrie's shortcomings for the night started to become a bit obvious, though not all that annoying. Next came the one song in the tour rotation I specifically hoped NOT to get, Prophets of War. I'm not a fan of Systematic Chaos as an album, and this isn't even one of the better tracks in my opinion. However I thought the song did go over generally well, and I do applaud it for only being 6 minutes and thus not dragging. The shouting bit was pretty cool. In hindsight I'm not pissed about having seen it, but I will be very upset if they do it in Asbury Park next Friday.
The Count of Tuscany came next, and was among the trilogy of highlight for myself. This song just has all the great dynamics you can ask for in a live show. There's some brilliant and beautiful atmosphere, some uptempo and energetic parts for audience shouts and sing-alongs, and some great technical prowess which doesn't get lost much in wankery for a change. The last 4 minutes were every bit as amazing as I expected, and this song just worked brilliantly as a set closer.
The encore break was microscopic. I was still on my feet from the end of the previous song when the infamous Metropolis Pt. 1 started up, whipping the audience into a frenzy. I guess I can't complain because this is probably my all-time favorite DT song, and I did get it as an encore at my first-ever show. The band were in their typical brilliant form, albeit with some unnecessary yet fun jamming. I've gotta say though, labrie sounded pretty awful through most of this track, particularly the opening lines and the ending segment. As usual it just sounded weak and extremely pitch-y, but not enough to distract me from thoroughly enjoying the track, which completes my highlight trilogy.
And thus, you have a pretty in-depth account of my first-ever DT experience. Criticize and comment as you wish.