Dream Theater go down a treat

So after twenty years, eight albums and an uncountable number of other live releases and bootlegs you could forgive Dream Theater for taking it easy, relaxing, enjoying the fruits of their labour but with this 20th Anniversary Octavarium world tour Dream Theater have done quite the opposite and turned up the notch for yet another time.

Divided up into two separate sets, this show couldn't fail to provide at least a handful of favorite tracks for any fan of the band and the reaction from the audience certainly confirmed this. The first set of the evening, fittingly for their 20th Anniversary, took a retrospective look at the bands past after opening with 'The Root Of All Evil' and a blistering 'Panic Attack' off this years Octavarium album. Going all the way from 'Another Won' from the 1985 Majesty demos up to a stomping rendition of 'Home' off of 1999's 'Scenes From A Memory' this first half of the evening did not fail to entertain. Whilst the early demo material and the special rare performance of the elusive track 'Speak To Me' could be somewhat esoteric to the newfound listener of Dream Theater or the more casual fan, this didn't impact on the evenings proceedings at all and the first half was an excellent sample of the myriad of musical achievements the band have made in their long career.

But really, it is part two of this evening with Dream Theater that gets the ears buzzing and the heart pacing. Combining the most heavy but catchy parts of their recent discography including a speedy 'The Glass Prison' and a quite simply epic climactic rendition of 'Octavarium'. This is where the audience really got moving, the band seemed to enjoy themselves the most and the atmosphere was at its best. Closing with the fan-favourite 'Metropolis Part 1' for their encore the second half managed to trump the already highly enjoyable first set of the night.

Whilst one would expect, quite reasonably from a band such as Dream Theater, a performance full of virtuosity and prime cut musicianship with perhaps less emphasis on stage presence of excitement in terms of movement, this is not what we got at all. Of course, the musicianship were there and the audience were continually blown away by the solos performed by John Petrucci, John Myung, Jordan Rudess and Mike Portnoy, but there was also a real emphasis on the "Metal" side of Dream Theater's "Progressive Metal" styles - the band were active on stage and were clearly having a great time which again fed back into the audience making this a most enjoyable show in those terms.

Alongside this was the flawless sound, with a band where the exact timing and sound of the music is so intrinsic to their identity it is important for the sound to be perfect, and thankfully it was. Crystal clear guitar notes and warbling synths with the melodic vocals of James Labrie on top? Yes please!

As a way of both showcasing how far they've come in their long lifetime and also as a way of showing they still have it in them to create perfect progressive metal entertainment, Dream Theater could not be faulted one bit. A great setlist, great sound and great stage presence have all gone together to make this into a simply great show that anyone who considers themselves a fan of Metal, Progressive or Rock should do their utmost to see.