Sunday, August 10, 2003 @ 11:21 AM
Queensryche, Dreath Theater an
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REVIEW BY: The Loony
I arrived at the Hard Rock hotel after a grueling hour and a half bus ride in sweltering 100-degree heat, sticky, sweating and stinking to high heavens. Then I thought, who cares? After the night’s festivities, three bands and 4 hours of music I would be sweaty and stinking anyway, right? With Dream Theater and Queensryche playing full sets, and Fates Warning opening up, I knew I was in for the long haul and was prepared for the Prog fest.
I sat at the bar, trying to cool off and had a couple of cold ones. Mighty tasty Newcastle I might add. I happened to turn around and saw people lining up to get into the arena and wondered what was going on, the doors were supposed to open at 5:00 and it was 5:30. So, I finished my beer and jumped into line. I did not get into The Joint until almost 6:00. So, I walked in, got a beer, staked my place and started to talk to anyone who would talk to me. Ends up, I was talking with a guy named Eric Zimmermann, who has recorded with Mark Zonder, the drummer for Fates Warning on a project called Under-Radio. For more info on this project, check out www.ericzimmermann.com. He was cool and gave me some of the info I will relate to you in this review.
For those who have never seen The Joint, it is rather beautiful. There are guitars of all shape and styles adorning the walls, placed decoratively around Zildjian gongs. On each side of the stage are large screens that project images taken from the stage so all can see the goings on. And for this show there were many things going on. Above the stage is an arch with the words “Humanity Is Instrumental,” fitting words for the instruMENTAL proceedings about to happen.
The show was scheduled to start at 6:30, but something delayed the show and I was a little bummed, knowing the time was coming off of Fates Warning’s set. At 6:42, they finally hit the stage, bursting into a song off their latest album Disconnected titled “One.” It was apparent that they were really on their game, even with the sound problems that come with being an opening act with no sound check. A couple of the guitar solos from the earlier songs were lost, but that is the price they had to pay. In any case, Ray Alder’s voice was great, hitting all the right notes. You could tell they were all having fun and giving it their all. Jim Matheos was very precise in his guitar work. Joey Vera, a bass player I never would have thought would be playing with Fates, coming from Armored Saint, but he is very capable and played his heart out banging his shaved head all over the stage. From my new friend Eric, I learned that Frank Aresti was back with the band playing rhythm guitar and he was also enjoying himself. I may have gotten misinformed about Aresti, because I could not find any info on who is in the band except for the four main guys who have been there a while. The last is Mark Zonder, drummer extraordinaire, kept the beat with his unreal patterns going that most drummers could only hope too play, let alone write. From the first song, it was apparent that this was going to be a special evening.
They immediately kicked into part 2 of “A Pleasant Shade Of Grey,” their concept magnum opus. Great vibe, with Zonder taking over the song with his playing. The man is a monster drummer, and this was only the beginning. Portnoy and Rockenfield were still to come. Drummers paradise. Next they played another song off of Disconnected called “Pieces Of Me,” on of my favorite songs from them. Then came “Point Of View,” another favorite of mine. These were all rocking tunes, with a tiny breather to say hi and let those who did not know of them to get to know their name at least. Then they kicked back into it with “Life In Still Water” from Parallels, the same album the “Point Of View” is on. Great album, great tunes.
Then came the first surprise of the night. I once saw Mike Portnoy play roadie for Fates, bringing out the acoustic guitar for “Monument,” but this was different. He brought out his stool and played a tune with them that was unfamiliar to me. It may have been a song from O.S.I., a side-project that Portnoy and Matheos have. I don’t know because I have yet to buy the album. Anyway it kicked ass. Zonder came back and Fates finished up their set with “Monument,” with everyone rocking to the acoustic and electric guitar solos in the song.
Overall, they played a great set, albeit too short and with no video running. The video could have given those in back a chance too see a band that few people are aware of. A great start to what would become a memorable evening.
Both of the next drummer’s kits were already set up, so there was very little to do in changeover. About fifteen minutes after Fates left the stage, Dream Theater kicked their set off with “New Millennium,” one of about four songs I was surprised to hear from them. Great opening tune, with John Myung tapping his six-string bass for all he was worth. The video screens were now in action showing all that was going on. Kudos to the operators, who caught all the action and gave us all the pertinent shots when someone was playing something exciting. There were many things going on, but they did a great job of catching the important parts.
Next was an older tune, then into the only song off of their latest album Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence called “The Great Debate,” complete with the news report sound bites that lead off the song and with video of genetic research going on. The song is about stem cell research and went over well, the crowd clearly pumped by now. Another older tune and the band were ready to REALLY ROCK!
The sounds of coins clinking let those who know what was coming up, and it is one of Dream Theater’s best ever, a song called “Home” from their concept album Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory. One of the finest concept albums ever, along with Fates A Pleasant Shade Of Grey, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and another from a band to be named later. The song got an already crazy crowd into it, with fists pumping and heads banging. The song leads into the instruMENTAL “The Dance Of Eternity,” which is quite crazy, but they interspersed it with many instruMENTAL passages from songs of yore, including “A Change Of Seasons,” the “Ytse Jam,” some parts from The Liquid Tension Experiment (another side project from Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci) and other songs. It was incredible, and I almost fell over watching these guys pull this stuff like they were sleeping, like it was no big deal. John Petrucci played a 7-string guitar, Mike Portnoy was a blur, John Myung was his regular kick ass version of Jaco Pastorius, Geddy Lee and Steve Harris and Jordan Rudess, the undersung hero of the group, played his revolving keyboard (giving him a bit of flexibility on stage) with unbelievable expertise. By the time they finished the instruMENTAL section of the show with some cartoon themes the crowd was yelling and screaming in joy, it was so incredible. The people knew and gave them the kudos they deserved.
On a side note, I saw Yes last year and Rick Wakeman had three keyboards in his rig. Jordan Rudess has only one, a Kurtzweil that he plays with such finesse that is unreal. It is rather unbelievable that all those sounds can come out of one keyboard. He is a master of technology, using the ribbon above the keys and the pitch-bending wheel to extremes, getting guitar-like stylings that are really a treat. His ragtime pieces from “A Change Of Seasons” and “The Dance Of Eternity” were crowd pleasers.
Now it was time for a break, which means the band slows it down a bit and takes a break from the craziness. They mellowed out and played “Hollow Years,” a great tune that radio should have picked up on. It would have let people know that this band can write great songs, not just play crazy. When it kicked in, my bladder was overflowing so it was time for a rest room break, and many others thought the same. Luckily I got back before it was over and got to see them play it.
It was nearing the end of their set, and they finished it off in fine style, playing the Yes-style “Learning To Live from Images And Words,” a great epic tune with a bass outro that had the whole crowd singing along. There was no encore, but that left the door open for what was to come later. More surprises.
Queensryche hit the stage about fifteen minutes later, with the 20th Century Fox with a tune from their new album Tribe called “Open.” Not many were familiar with it, but it went over well. I noticed that Chris DeGarmo was not playing with the band, a guy in a hood, hereafter referred to as The Guy In The Hood, was playing rhythm guitar with Michael Wilton playing all the leads. I was disappointed that DeGarmo was not there and that they could not get someone who could play their leads. The twin guitar thing does not work very well when one guitar player is playing two styles. But that is nitpicking because they actually played a killer set, no ballady things like “Silent Lucidity,” it was all rock. This for me was the 10th time I saw Queensryche, so I’m a little jaded, but they had a killer set list and Geoff Tate sang better than I have seen him sing in years. No, he did not hit all the high notes, but would you after 20 years?
Back to the show, on to the early years, with ”NM 156” and “Screaming In Digital,” both favorites of mine. VERY progressive songs for the times. They were doing Nine Inch Nails before they even existed, with the mechanical sounds. Then onto “Promised Land” and the usual crowd favorite, “Empire,” with the audience singing along. By this time the crowd was really into the show, except for the lame asses in the back. They seemed tired and ready to go home. Hey people this is ROCK AND ROLL! There is no crying in ROCK AND ROLL, get it? Don’t go to a show if you are not ready for it!
They then proceeded to play a tune from the new album called “Desert Dance.” Geoff Tate said he was driving through New Mexico when he thought up the idea for this tune. I’ve lived there and it is some beautiful, if not toxic, desert so I can see where he was coming from. It came off pretty well, and I remember hearing people talk about this tune before they played, so it must be kinda good.
On to “Mindcrime.” From here on out it was great music, with them, playing four tunes from the Mindcrime album and the audience was singing along with the whole thing. They hugged each other and gave some souvenirs to the crowd and…
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT?
The two drum kits were still set up, so we all knew something special was going to happen but I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be like it was…
All ten members of Queensryche and Dream Theater hit the stage. It was wild seeing two drummers, two bassists, three guitar players, a pianist and Geoff Tate and James LaBrie out there. The opening to Queensryche’s “Real World” kicked in, with Mike Portnoy playing odd stylings on his kit while Rockenfield played the original drum track, then when it gets crazy at the end both drummers were going wild. Now it was time for a Dream Theater tune, the likes of which I have never seen before. Jordan Ruddess played the intro to “The Spirit Carries On,” and they kicked into a full-blown version of the song. Geoff Tate sang the memorable line from Victoria “Move on, be brave, don’t weep at my grave, because I am no longer here! Please never let your memory of me disappear!”, and I about died, it was so emotional. The two bands were clearly enjoying themselves, laughing and talking to each other.
The song was over, what else could they do? Well, Mike Portnoy announced, “We would like to do a tribute to a man who died in this very building, whose essence still carries on, John Entwhistle or The Who.”
I could not believe it.
I’m still not sure that it happened.
But it did.
They kicked the shit out of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” complete with dueling drum solos, three guitar leads, Jordan Ruddess doing his great keyboards and the crowd went WILD, dancing all over the place! It was a fitting end to the show. A classic tribute to a great band. The crowd was still talking about it when they left, I heard many people talking about this song. It was an emotional night, and everyone walked out with smiles on their faces. Sure the bands did not play some songs that you would expect, or the hit songs from the radio. Noticeably absent were “Pull Me Under” and “Silent Lucidity,” but for a true fan of these groups, I’ve seen them do these songs enough. I wanted to hear the other songs, and they gave us just that!
All in all, I would give the show a 9 out of a possible 10. There were glitches and Michael Wilton sounded funny doing DeGarmo’s leads, but that is nitpicking again. I’m not here to nitpick, just tell you what happened. All the bands were great, and the audience had a great time.
Another side note to the show, I was sitting at the bar before the show and I saw on CNN that Bob Hope had died earlier in the day. A sad note to go into the show with, but as Victoria sang, “Please never let your memory of me disappear”. Bob was the man for a long time and I’m glad to have mourned his death with a celebration of life. His Spirit truly Carries On.
This was my first, and probably last journey into the world of journalism. I hope you enjoyed this review, I certainly enjoyed writing it. Thanks to Ayla for her help and encouragement, I never could have done this without her.
Fates Warning set list
2. A Pleasant Shade Of Grey Part 2
3. Pieces Of Me
4. Point Of View
5. Life In Still Water
6. Unknown, probably O.S.I.
Dream Theater set list
1. New Millennium
2. Under A Glass Moon
3. The Great Debate
4. Another Day
6. The Dance Of Eternity
The Dance Of Eternity
Metropolis Part 1
A Change Of Seasons, the crazy part, I think part 4 or 5
The Ytse Jam
The Dance Of Eternity
Liquid Tension Experiment song , I cannot recall the name
Cartoon themes, I think Looney-no pun intended - Tunes
The Dance Of Eternity
Metropolis Parts 1 and 2 medley
Short guitar solo
7. Hollow Years
8. Learning To Live
Queensryche set list
1. 20th Century Fox Theme
3. Nm 156
4. Screaming In Digital
5. I Am I
8. Desert Dance
9. Jet City Woman
10. The Lady Wore Black
11. I Remember Now/Anarchy X
12. Revolution Calling
14. Eyes Of A Stranger
15. Take Hold Of The Flame
16. Best I Can
Dream Theater and Queensryche
1. Real World
2. The Spirit Carries On
3. Won’t Get Fooled Again