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Live Reviews : Dream Theater (Sydney) – 05/12/2009

By on December 9, 2009


w/ Pain Of Salvation

The Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park – 5th December 2009

Well, how do I write a review of a show featuring two of my favourite bands of all time, while trying to remain unbiased and fair? Well the truth is, I don’t, because this review is going to be filled with nothing but praise and appreciation, as it is not only highly deserved by both bands, but it would be criminal not to write highly of what was such an amazing night of both musicianship and musical execution.

Dream Theater is pretty much my favourite band of all time. They have been ever since the release of 1999’s Scenes From A Memory, which not only defined a whole new genre of music for me, but also opened up my musical perspectives and helped me discover genres that were, up until that point, elusive to me. Whether it be progressive, psychedelic, alternative, or instrumental rock/metal, I do believe I owe it all to this one band that assisted me to broaden my musical horizons. So naturally, I was pretty excited about this show.

Being the 8th time I’ve managed to catch Dream Theater live (Europe and America trips have helped to increase this number, believe me!), I couldn’t help but wonder what might aid this experience in becoming a candidate in live show of the year. My hopes were reassured with the confirmation of another progressive metal giant being added to the support slot, Sweden’s Pain Of Salvation! I’m pretty sure that if Dream Theater had never been conceived, Pain Of Salvation would be in the position of my favourite progressive metal band of all time. So with two of my favourite bands in tow, I went to this show with pretty high expectations, and without ruining the following text, I can guarantee that my anticipation was not in vein.

I arrived at the Hordern Pavilion with only minutes to spare until Pain Of Salvation hit the stage, so with the necessary beverage in hand, I sprinted in to gain an advantageous position to witness the Swedish quintet. Moments later the lights dimmed and the track “Remedy Lane” blasted through the speakers while a few members got ready on stage. Then the moment the intro track finished, the remaining members ran energetically onto the stage and kicked into the opening track from The Perfect Element, “Used”, which sounded just as good live as it did on the album. Although confined to an hour set, Pain Of Salvation went on to deliver a good range of tracks from their lengthy history, including the title track from the new EP, “Linoleum”, and their more popular tunes such as “Ashes” and “Diffidentia”. Considering this band has gone through a few line-up changes over the last couple of years, Pain Of Salvation performed each track flawlessly and had a great stage presence while doing so. Guitarist Johan Hallgren’s backing vocals could almost warrant him for being a frontman alone as his range is superb. Frontman Daniel Gildenlöw worked the crowd well and received quite a few laughs at times, especially about his introduction to “Ashes”, when he questioned how a song with only three chords played throughout the whole track would go down with a progressive metal crowd. Needless to say, Pain Of Salvation were very well received and hopefully this reception will warrant a headlining tour of their own once their new album is out.

Once Pain Of Salvation had finished, I actually felt like it was time to leave as it had felt like I’d already had witnessed the headlining band. But this was not the case, as Dream Theater were still to hit the stage, and according to the set time sheet, we were in for a two hour sitting of mind-blowing progressive metal. After only a small time, Dream Theater’s intro track began playing and the stage lights were radiating through a dark sheet that blanketed the stage. Then the thunderous booming of the introduction to “A Nightmare To Remember” begun, and the sheet came down with the crash of cymbals and the shrill of guitars. While I’m not the biggest fan of drummer Mike Portnoy’s vocal lines in this song, this track worked a treat as a concert opener as it showed off both Dream Theater’s progressive and metal sides, while demonstrating just how tight and professional this band truly is. After pounding through another slab from the new album, guitarist John Petrucci began working his magic and treated the crowd to a guitar interlude that had a faint familiarity throughout it. A couple of minutes later in became clear that it was an improvised introduction to the classic track from the Falling Into Infinity album, “Hollow Years”. While witnessing a song live that has always sent shivers down my spine is always amazing, it was humorous to see the crowd trying to sing along as they played true to the demo version of the song with the extended pre-chorus.

Next up came the inevitable solo from keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and while interesting, it did nothing to match up to the entertainment of last year’s submission. It lead into the Systematic Chaos track, “Prophets Of War”, which actually translated extremely well live, and I actually enjoyed this more than I did on the album version. Then came the ultimate Dream Theater fanboy’s setlist appendage, “The Mirror” followed by “Lie”, both from the classic 1994 album, Awake. I swear that while vocalist James LaBrie’s vocals were in exceedingly top form, I could hear the crowd singing over the top of him with excitement in finally beholding these ageless tracks.

The rest of the set went exceedingly well, with every moment being well received by all, and when it came to the encore of “The Count Of Tuscany”, I thought the crowd might have been weary after such a long night, but it appeared that this had been one track that the majority had been waiting on, and the audience were definitely at their loudest during this finale.

All in all, this was the perfect night for me. Two of my favourite bands of all time, sharing the stage within travelling distance, playing amazing sets and performing flawless sets. There’s nothing about this night I can really complain about as it would just come down to nitpicking, and I definitely don’t see the need for that. Now just to wait for the next shows from both these leaders of progressive metal!

Pain Of Salvation Set List

1. Intro: Remedy Lane
2. Used
3. Linoleum
4. Ashes
5. Diffidentia (Breaching The Core)
6. Fandango
7. Falling
8. The Perfect Element

Dream Theater Set List

1. A Nightmare To Remember
2. A Rite Of Passage
3. Hollow Years
4. Keyboard Solo
5. Prophets Of War
6. The Mirror
7. Lie
8. Wither
9. The Dance Of Eternity
10. One Last Time
11. Solitary Shell
12. In The Name Of God
13. The Count Of Tuscany