The combination of Trivium and Dream Theater made Wednesday night’s Tabernacle show a truly special showcase of Roadrunner artists. The Dream Theater fans welcomed Trivium’s burst of energy and fury with the title track from their latest release, In Waves. The set stayed consistent with what Trivium played during the Mayhem Festival just this past August, but exposure to the crowd present for progressive metal warriors Dream Theater won Trivium a new set of fans that may or may not have attended Mayhem. By the third song of Trivum’s set, “Caustic Are the Ties That Bind,” phrases like “I really like this band” could easily be heard rising from the well-warmed audience. Frontman Matt Heafy announced to all the fans that a Trivium show is about “having fun” and if that means tapping your toes in the back or singing along it’s just about having a good time.
Full review and gallery after the jump…
Dream Theater has been criticized for not putting on a very “exciting” show. That is to say, the guys aren’t exactly known for stage antics, costumes, or complex light shows. Many members of the audience really enjoyed the cartoon entrance where a cartoon caricature of each band member introduces the band – bassist John Myung was a ninja type character with a pointed straw hat, singer James LaBrie was a pirate, keyboardist Jordan Rudess was a wizard concocting iPhone apps, guitarist John Petrucci appeared as a sort of Zues character standing on top of a cliff in rags with the ability to turn lightning into electricity for his guitar, and drummer Mike Mangini arose from within a genie’s lamp like the Aladdin of the drum set wielding his sticks with furious speed. The whole introduction matched the themes in the album artwork on A Dramatic Turn of Events and ended with the band flying on a plane and running to the stage. The movie gave way to the band, each member dressed in all black with singer LaBrie wearing a trench coat, taking positions on the stage.
The fact that those sitting or standing in the Tabernacle watching the three background movie screens show slices of history, flashes of meaning, and cues to interpreting the Dream Theater songs stood out, among the amazing technical performances and subtle lightshow cues, is the best reason for paying the price of admission. The subtle hints of what the songwriter must have felt appeared like clues so that audience members could tune in to the intricacy of what the band played while glimpsing what they may have meant to tell fans through the lyrics.
The best example of this may have been for “Outcry,” off the latest release, A Dramatic Turn of Events, because while the album itself seems to revolve around themes of dramatic events like riding a unicycle across a tightrope, these themes stay vague and accessible when simply reading the lyrics. The emotion-packed chorus to “Outcry,” calls “Rise up, be counted. Stand strong and unite,” and the backing movie showed Egyptian citizens peacefully protesting the 30-year reign of Mubarak who resigned in response to the public outcry in Egypt earlier this year. I would never have known or had any idea what that song was about had I not seen Dream Theater live last night.
Another song, “Forsaken” from the Systematic Chaos album, played a cartoon movie where what appeared to be Petrucci in cartoon form again sat with his left hand strapped to a chair from which he had to escape only to dabble with a woman who turned him into a vampire. Before beginning the song, LaBrie said something about “Aliens and Vampires,” but because of the movie fans can now re-read the lyrics and make new realizations about old favorites.
LaBrie and Petrucci dimmed the lights and “brought it down a notch” to “let [the audience] catch [its] breath” by playing an acoustic guitar on “The Silent Man” off Awake and “Beneath the Surface,” the closing track on A Dramatic Turn of Events. Other personal highlights included the subtle light show cues when Petrucci hit the harmonic in “Endless Sacrifice” and choosing the song “Under A Glass Moon” with its incredible guitar solo for the encore and final song. I could go on and on about all the personal details the band seemed to give its fans through the live show, but the way they could play these complicated rhythms and still smile, joke with each other, and connect to the crowd simply reaffirmed why Dream Theater is one of my favorite and most respected bands.