Dream Theater Shows New Vigor and Excitement at Mayo Center

Posted by Michael Mueller on October 12, 2011 at 12:01 PM

The construction crews may have been working outside, but it was inside the Mayo Center for Performing Arts in Morristown, New Jersey, where several bridges were built over the course of nearly two hours of tight and intense high-wire action courtesy of Long Island prog-rock titans Dream Theater.

Touring in support of their latest album, A Dramatic Turn of Events, which fans and critics alike have said bridges back to their 1992 breakthrough album Images and Words, the band opened the evening with "Bridges in the Sky," its tight focus on songcraft and melody along with James La Brie's soaring vocals building the first bridge of the evening and proving symbolic of the entire night.

Following "These Walls," which, thematically, also speaks to Dream Theater's return to their roots, the band launched into new song "Build Me Up, Break Me Down," which musically serves as a looking glass to Awake, the band's heavier yet still melodically concentrated follow-up to Images and Words.

The band displayed newfound vigor throughout the night, and perhaps nothing owes more this rejuvenation than new drummer Mike Mangini. Given the spotlight just four songs into the set, Mangini delivered a powerful drum solo that showcased not only his compositional skills but also his stunning proficiency with the sticks. Even more importantly, the 48-year old skin basher plays with the enthusiasm of a teenager who has just realized a dream come true, an approach that has clearly rubbed off on his new bandmates. Regardless of your opinion on the whole matter, there's no denying that filling the throne of founding drummer Mike Portnoy wouldn't be easy. But with the man who set five World's Fastest Drummer records now behind the kit, Dream Theater clearly hasn't lost a beat.

Riding high on the electricity of Mangini's solo, guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and bassist John Myung reclaimed the stage and launched into the high-octane instrumental "Ytse Jam," from their 1989 debut When Dream and Day Unite.

Curiously, though, just as that influx of adrenaline was coursing through the theater, Rudess and La Brie were left to perform a two-song "acoustic" piano set featuring the concert rarity "Wait For Sleep" from Images and Words and "Far From Heaven, from Dramatic Turn—yet another bridge between the two eras.

The pace soon picked up again as the band came back out with two stellar new tracks, "Outcry" and their new single "On the Backs of Angels," before once again bridging back to 1994's Awake for "Caught in a Web," inaugurating a showcase for Petrucci's and Rudess's dextrous prestidigitation that continued through the penultimate "Fatal Tragedy" and set closer "Breaking All Illusions."

For the encore, the band made their final bridge of the evening with their 1992 breakout track and fan favorite, "Pull Me Under." After final bows and the house lights up, a satiated audience filed up the aisles and into the crisp, autumnal night in curiously quiet fashion—curious, that is, until you noticed the 1,500 or jaws left littering the theater floor.

For a complete list of Fall 2011 Dream Theater tour dates, visit DreamTheater.net

Set List 10/11/2011

Bridges in the Sky
These Walls
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
Endless Sacrifice
Mike Mangini Drum Solo
Ytse Jam
Wait For Sleep
Far From Heaven
On the Backs of Angels
Caught in a Web
Through My Words
Fatal Tragedy
Breaking All Illusions

Pull Me Under

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