On April 5th, Montreal’s Wilfred Pelletier theatre received some regular visitors, the famous progressive rock band Dream Theater. The last time they were here in the city was in 2016 when they played their 36-song opus “The Astonishing.”
This time they delighted us with a two-part show, where the first half was dedicated to their newest album titled “Distance Over Time” and the second half of the show was a trip down memory lane when they played the album “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory” in its entirety.
They set out to both impress and celebrate, wanting to remind us that they still made great music and also commemorate the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest prog-rock albums.
The new album felt alive and energizing. Compared to the previous record, “the Astonishing,” the music is more powerful, and it shows on stage. The question remains if it will be as memorable, over time, in fans’ hearts as for instance are “Octavarium” and the honoree of the night “Scenes from a Memory.” It’s certainly enjoyable and masterfully performed both in the album and live, but it is not evident at first if it will withstand the test of nostalgia and time.
That uncertainty does not impede a couple to songs to really stand out and give us a reminder as to why Dream Theater are the masters of modern prog rock. “Paralyzed” and “Fall into the Light” deliver enough energy and emotion to easily eclipse the sad, cold days of false spring we are having, and the rest of the first part of the show (as well as the album) were delightful.
After a well deserved 30 minute pause, everyone (band included) was welcomed back with wild excitement and incredible sense of expectation of what was about to come, the complete rendition of the concept album that marked a whole generation, the Sgt Pepper to prog and metal gen-xer fans alike, the masterpiece that was and is Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory”
The backdrop screen filled up with images of the cover collage, glimpses of the story started showing and the opening dialogue of the aptly titled song “Regression” filled up the theatre. Many cheered, others roared, but everyone sat at the edge of their seats almost in disbelief to what they were about to witness (or at least that is how I felt it).
The rest was a long trip down our teens and twenties memories, which in my case meant remembering sitting at a friend’s house watching the DVD “Live Scenes from New York” after such friend got it as a special order that took months to arrive at our 3rd world corner of the planet. For others it meant immersing themselves in the story, feeling and reminiscing lovingly along with the suffering, betrayal and lost love all over again.
Jaws were opened, tears were dropped, and skin were goosebumped with each song. Rudess, Petrucci, Myung, LaBrie, and Mangini made us feel like we were the first ones to hear it back in 1999. They did not leave anything out from the story neither did they withhold their skills and passion for the music they keep making after more than 30 years.
I really hope that my kids are able to experience such enthusiasm and excitement for a show and an album as I did that day. May Dream Theater keep creating beautiful music and may they keep enjoying what they do every day more.
My only critique was of the sound itself, which was very loud and saturated at times, both because of the nature of the volume at which the band plays but also as to how it was calibrated to the venue itself, which lends itself to oversaturation quite easily from what I have heard in the past. If it weren’t for my concert earplugs my experience would have been different and my ears a bit more deaf.
Review – Ricardo D. Flores
Photos – Alexandre René