Progressive Rock veterans Dream Theater made a stop at City National Grove in Anaheim on Wednesday night November 16 as part of their fall 2016 The Astonishing Tour. A double concept album that was released in January 2016, this tour has the band playing the album in its entirety from start to finish in two acts with a 20 minute intermission and the band recently added a three song encore featuring some fan favorites following the completion of The Astonishing.
With no opening act, fans were treated to almost 2 ½ hrs of nothing but Dream Theater. The Astonishing, written mostly by guitarist John Petrucci with input from keyboardist Jordan Rudess is set in a dystopian future United States and follows the Ravenskill Rebel Militia in their efforts to defy the Great Northern Empire of the Americas using the magical power of music. At precisely 8:00pm the lights went down and “Decent of the Nomacs” played over the PA as the band took the stage and blasted into “Dystopia Overture”, an almost five minute instrumental gem that instantly had the crowd on their feet as guitarist John Petrucci, Bass player John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and drummer Mike Mangini collectively displayed their precision playing.
Vocalist James LaBrie appeared as “The Gift of Music” started and the band took the lucky fans in attendance through an epic journey of The Astonishing that featured instrumentals, slower songs and mid-tempo rockers all while the plot of The Astonishing played on giant video screens behind the band. With almost zero crowd interaction, LaBrie and the band focused on the music, never stopping in between songs and during extended instrumental parts, LaBrie would often leave the stage returning on cue to continue his vocals.
It is almost impossible to put into words how talented this band is individually and then creating without a doubt a musical phenomenon collectively. Towards the end of act two, Anaheim was in for a special treat that was previously announced . . . Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale came out on stage to perform a duet with LaBrie on “Our New World” which was a special release back in early September. Hale minus her guitar looked and sounded amazing and if you were at The Grove on this night, you may have witnessed the only time this collaboration will be performed live. With the song “Astonishing” this completed the live performance of The Astonishing concept and left the fans obviously impressed and amazed.
The band ended the night with three fan favorites, “As I Am”, “The Spirit Carries On” and last but not least the epic, “Pull Me Under”. The band then assembled center stage and joined hands and bowed gracefully to thank the Dream Theater die-hards for attending. A massive performance by arguably the premier progressive band of the last 20+ years, The Astonishing will most likely never be played again live in its entirety so consider yourself to have witnessed something very special if you were there.
Dream Theater continues to play “The Astonishing” live through December 5 and then head to Europe in early 2017. For details on The Astonishing concept including character and location information click here.
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