• Concert review of Dream Theater at Bell Centre in Montreal

    Last Friday, I went once again to the Bell Centre in Montreal to see my fifth concert of American progressive metal band Dream Theater with a good friend of mine. There is no band I have seen more often than this quintet of extraordinary musicians that has been around for more than three decades. If compared to the concerts of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, only the lowest levels were open and quite a few spots were empty. It only took a few minutes to get inside the building and straight to our seats. I would guess that less than five thousand people attended the concert that night which is only a third of the crowds that had witnessed the two British heavy metal legends. Even though Dream Theater is less popular than the other two bands, there might be another reason why the attendance was somewhat limited that evening. The band played its last conceptual record ''The Astonishing'' in its entirety without any bonus tracks. The quintet performed for more or less two hours and twenty minutes in total. A short break of twenty minutes between the first and the second act of the album took place after a little bit more than eighty minutes. This gave the few faithful fans like me the occasion to buy one of the appealing new tour shirts which cost fifteen dollars less than Black Sabbath's and Iron Maiden's expensive merchandise. A negative thing I must point out are the exaggerated prices for drinks and snacks at Bell Centre. They expected me to pay sixteen dollars for a large commercial beer in a cheap plastic cup. This is by far the most elevated price for a beer I have ever witnessed at any location around the world. I refused to pay such as price and decided to drink some soda which was still rather expensive at a price slightly above five dollars. Shame on those who are responsible for those decadent prices.

    Dream Theater I

    Let's talk about the concert instead. There were clearly more positive than negative elements but I would like to end my review on a positive note and that's why I need to get a few things off my chest. First of all, I'm sorry to say that there were a lot of antisocials in the crowd. I saw one person who was constantly smoking even though it's strictly prohibited in the building. Other people were constantly trying to film parts of the concert even though it was clearly announced that this was also against the rules. The two guys sitting next to my friend and me were about twenty minutes late to the show, looked extremely grumpy throughout the entire show, sent distracting text messages to their friends instead of paying attention to the show and didn't come back for the second part of the concert. The worst were two noisy men right behind us who were quite drunk, plain stupid or probably both. They were clearly disappointed that the band was only performing songs from its last record and were constantly screaming stuff like ''You're better than that!'' or ''Play Pull Me Under!'' and ''Play Trial of Tears!'' throughout the entire show. They were constantly talking, laughing and mocking the band during their songs and I was very close to call some security guards several times but I didn't want to miss anything of the show because of those two rude wrongdoers. I got the impression that the crowd reaction was really divided. Half of the audience enjoyed the show, cheered the band and even disguised themselves as the different characters of the conceptual story. The other half was either leaving long before the concert ended or tried to disturb the experience for others around them because they didn't understand that it had been obvious for quite some time that the band was playing its last record in its entirety. Those who were not familiar with or didn't like the last album simply shouldn't have come that night. That being said, I must admit that parts of the album are hard to sit through, in particular the boring second half of the first part which is filled with numerous exchangebale ballads dominated by overtly emotional vocals, endless keyboard patterns and uninspired guitar melodies while the rhythm section did everything but an impressive job. Even for faithful fans, the concert had obvious ups and downs.

    Dream Theater II

    Still, it was overall a great concert. The new album sounds much more dynamic on stage than the studio version. The rhythm instruments are almost inaudible on the record and sounded better in concert. The guitar solos had more power as well. The best part were the vocals and James LaBrie delivered one of his very best live performances in recent memory. A big bonus were the spectacular animations on different screens all around the stage that portrayed the complex story in a colourful way inspired by modern graphic novels. Attending this concert was more than just listening to music but watching an animated movie. These visual elements helped me to follow the complex concept and to get easily into the story. The light effects were also spectacular and complemented the animations brilliantly. Before the concert, it was possible to grab a flyer with some background information about the story and its differnet characters plus a detailed set list as if you were attending a theater play. Let's also point out the creative merchandise section with relatively fair prices. Several disguised fans added a lot of atmopshere to an otherwise boring crowd and I almost felt like attending an anime convention. The band had really tried out something completely new and while the ambitious project had its flaws on the album, it worked much better in concert and I'm really glad I attended one of the shows of this unique tour.

    Dream Theater III

    In the end, the positive elements of the show made me quickly forget the few negative factors and especially the controversial crowd in Montreal that was sometimes lacking respect towards other parts of the audience, the band and the security guards. As much as I liked this unique experience, I'm looking forward to a more diversified show with songs from many different albums in the future. My advice for you is to only attend the show if you are familiar with and at least like the band's last double-album.

    « Concert review of Iron Maiden & The Raven Age at Bell Centre in MontrealRooted renewal - A review of Crematory's ''Monument'' »
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