Dream Theater

support Periphery
author PP date 27/01/12 venue Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

Dream Theater's Danish concert was originally meant to take place in KB Hallen, but the place burned down in an accident during an erotics exhibition, so the arrangement was moved to the much larger, 5000-capacity Valby Hallen. An announcement, which wasn't exactly received with joy and anticipation by the fans, knowing the horrific reputation of Valbyhallen's sound quality. Fortunately, this wasn't as much an issue for the headliners as it was for the support act Periphery, who rely on precision-guided djent riffs, rich texture, and attention to detail in their music, so anything but a crystal-clear sound is going to cause their live show problems. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Tonight, approximately 3000-3500 Dream Theater fans were in attendance (by a rough estimate), the majority clad in their battle gear (Dream Theater merchandise). That's the mark of a band with a cult-like fan base; usually gigs are more like fashion shows were people show off their band t-shirts and tattoos. Not so with bands like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, etc, whose entire fan base shows up wearing their own t-shirts in a staggering display of what this band means to many people.

Periphery vocalist

Periphery

It also means that although the djent metal of Periphery is inherently progressive in its nature, the vast majority of the audience tonight have never head a single Periphery song in their life. Facing a completely dead audience, the band do their best though to put on an excellent live show, with especially the band's vocalist impressing by taking advantage of all corners of the large stage. But more so than movement, what people will take away from the Periphery set tonight is the technical competency of the band members. You can't hear much of the guitars because of the muddy sound, but this leaves the band's superb vocalist standing out with his Rody Walker (Protest The Hero)-esque clean vocals that are contrasted by prog hardcore barks for good measure. And then there's the drummer, who is the highlight of the show tonight, having been placed right in the middle of the stage underneath a spotlight as to have the crowd focus on his antics better. That's a good decision, because the rhythmic texture of Matt Halpern is something special tonight. While not the fastest drummer in the world, his technical flair speaks for itself, and thus most of the crowd are fixated on either him or the vocalist, leaving the band's three guitarists in the metaphorical shadow tonight. If anything, Periphery prove tonight why they have been turning so many heads as of late, even though they definitely need a better sound mix to succeed properly.

7

Dream Theater

Dream Theater, on the other hand, were clearly the band that everyone here came to see tonight. And although I'll never forgive them for spawning hundreds upon hundreds of generic copy cat bands that us reviewers have to struggle through from time to time, it's clear tonight why they enjoy the status of the best and biggest progressive rock/metal band on the planet. Lets start with the stage setup: behind the band are three giant cubes that double as lighting and video screens, playing funky animations and occasionally quirky video angles of the band playing live. Their new drummer is at the center stage with a drum unit that looks more like an alien space ship than like a regular drum setup in all its glory. Then the keyboard player has a multiple keyboard setup, all of which can turn nearly 360 degrees, and even the vocalist's mic stand looks like it was converted from a chaotic snake.

Subsequently, there's always something to look at on stage, even during the many songs which, to this scribe, feel way too long and have me yawning and checking my watch. These are also the songs that receive the least crowd response, but in contrast the band also has a ton of breathtaking songs like "The Dark Eternal Night", which underline why they enjoy the status that they do in the metal world. Much like Judas Priest, it is during moments like these that they exhibit a sense of timelessness that their hundreds of clones just aren't able to, as if they live and breathe their music. The songwriting on display here is on a whole another level, and it often feels halfway overwhelming when the band's more hard-hitting metal material strikes the crowd from the stage.

Though the band are old fuckers by now, and don't move quite as much on stage as they probably did in their early days, it's still enough to convince even the biggest Dream Theater skeptic that there's something to this band. For two straight hours spread over 16 songs (including a drum solo, where the new drummer shows why he is regarded as one of the fastest drummers in the world), Dream Theater deliver progressive metal in a class of its own that's second to none. You could argue that the set feels slightly too long given how similar many songs sound to each other, but most Dream Theater fans will leave the venue satisfied, even if tonight probably can't be rated as one of their best shows on this tour.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Bridges in the Sky
  • 2. 6:00
  • 3. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
  • 4. Surrounded
  • 5. The Dark Eternal Night
  • 6. Drum Solo
  • 7. A Fortune in Lies
  • 8. Outcry
  • 9. Wait for Sleep
  • 10. Far from Heaven
  • 11. On the Backs of Angels
  • 12. War Inside My Head
  • 13. The Test that Stumped Them All
  • 14. The Spirit Carries On
  • 15. Breaking All Illusions
  • ---Encore:---
  • 16. As I Am

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