During a brief pause from an unbelievably generous helping of Dream Theater material at the Chicago Theatre, vocalist James LaBrie began to tell a story about the progressive metal/rock group’s largest crossover hit “Pull Me Under” and suggested die-hard fans probably already heard it. But he quickly corrected himself when realizing “you’re all die-hard fans,” which elicited a collective laugh from an audience that fit the description.
If anything, the exercise demonstrated just how revolutionary Dream Theater was back then and how the group continues to lead the charge when it comes to prodigious playing and epic everything.
Indeed those who came out to celebrate the “Images, Words & Beyond 25th Anniversary” Tour likely knew every single selection (and the tale about that track’s video being filmed right here in the Windy City) throughout the 160-minute evening divided between two acts and an extensive encore. While a front to back presentation of the tour’s primary album was the main event, the front half highlighting cuts from other albums earned equal attentiveness and adoration.
After all, LaBrie, guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and drummer Mike Mangini poured every last ounce of strength into each note or line of “The Dark Eternal Night” and the hour that followed, dashing around complex time signatures, unpredictable arrangements and hard-hitting rhythms with just the right amount of melodic sensibility. And if by some chance there was a novice in the crowd who wasn’t sure exactly what they walked into, the group’s charging “As I Am” merged ever so cleverly with Metallica’s massive “Enter Sandman” for a sprinkling of surefire familiarity.
Following the break, a pre-recorded radio dial scanned through the charts circa 1992, coming upon the ridiculously disposable likes of Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” and Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” alongside the more enduring “Even Flow” from Pearl Jam and “One” by U2. If anything, the exercise demonstrated just how revolutionary Dream Theater was back then and how the group continues to lead the charge when it comes to prodigious playing and epic everything.
As is customary, everyone got a chance to flex their chops, including Petrucci ferociously flavoring “Take The Time,” Mangini masterfully closing up shop on his multi-level kit after “Metropolis- Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper” and Rudess brilliantly improvising his way through an introduction to the much gentler by comparison “Wait For Sleep” (while Myung shined earlier on late Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius’ “Portrait Of Tracy”). To close, “Learning To Live” resumed the adrenaline-doused delivery, but then Dream Theater went above and beyond the call of duty with the entire “A Change Of Seasons” suite, ensuring those very fanatics got every last penny’s worth and then some.
For additional information on DreamTheater, visit DreamTheater.net.
For a list of upcoming Live Nation shows, visit LiveNation.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Chicago Theatre include Kirk Franklin & Ledisi (Nov. 8); The Avett Brothers (Nov. 9-11); CBS Radio’s “Stars And Strings” (Nov. 15); Mariah Carey: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Nov. 18); The String Cheese Incident (Nov. 24-25) and Evanescence (Nov. 30). For additional details, visit TheChicagoTheatre.com.