Concert Review – Dream Theater – Mediolanum Forum – Milan, Italy – Feb. 21st, 2012
Posted by RiffRaff
The first time I saw the legendary Progressive Metal band Dream Theater they performed in a tiny club in New Jersey (The Tradewinds, in Seabright) in 1999. Suffice to say it was a magical evening and due to the size of the club, a very intimate concert. Over the years, each time I went to catch this awesome band live the venues kept getting bigger and bigger due to their immense popularity, and somehow they were able to maintain that intimate feeling that I had got when I first saw them. February 21st, 2012 marks my 6th time seeing Dream Theater in the largest venue I’ve seen them in yet, the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy, and somehow they are still able to maintain that intimate magic that they’ve held over their many years together.
Taking the stage first was metal scene newcomers Periphery. I had previous knowledge of them before and had thought that they were a decent band, but nothing too special really. Live they really didn’t change my perception of them in a positive way. They weren’t absolutely horrible, but more so they were rather forgettable and at times annoying. I do have to say their drummer was a beast and stood out from the rest of the band. The big turn off for me for this band in a live setting was the fact that they were rolling with 3 guitarists, this amount of noise made the music sound very blurry and very difficult to listen to. With so much going on sound wise it was too difficult to pick out the intricacies of the music, and at times I did hear nice leads and solos going on, too bad it was all muddied up by its surroundings. As the saying goes “Too many cooks in the kitchen….”
The packed crowd didn’t seem to react to well to them and I had started thinking it may be a dead-fish audience in attendance, but the second the intro music of Hans Zimmers “Dream is Collapsing” came ringing through the sound system the entire venue became electrified. And then, after that brief intro complete with a little cartoon being played on 3 floating cube-screens in the background the band of the evening took the stage and all that electricity from the crowd supercharged into pure positive energy as Dream Theater kicked off their set with “Bridges in the Sky” off their latest album, A Dramatic Turn of Events. What a great opener that was as the song had parts that really let each member come out swinging and show what Dream Theater is all about.
The next song up was followed by a huge rising “Ohhhhhhhhh” by the crowd as the first notes rung it in. Going back Awake they broke out a huge fan favorite, and one of my personal favorite Dream Theater songs, “6:00”. What more can I say other than they completely tore it up. James LaBrie talked to the crowd a bit after that and then jumped into rocking out more great Dream Theater tunes. Going back to the more recent material they played “Build Me Up, Brake Me Down”, and then they shot all the way back to their breakthrough album Images and Words and touched everyone with a great rendition of “Surrounded”. Following that was the lead track off of Octavarium “The Root of All Evil” which led into the moment of the evening everyone was waiting for, Mike Mangini’s drum solo.
What can I say, he f’n killed it floating around complex yet fun rhythms and beats all while maintaining an ear to ear grin. His love for playing drums and with Dream Theater really shone through with his solo and I have to say he is definitely on par with the level of skill of previous drummer, Mike Portnoy. The fact that he was smiling so brightly for not only his solo but the entire concert really reflected the positive energy of the band and in turn out into the audience. Mr. Mangini, I am thrilled that you are in Dream Theater.
Without skipping a beat from his solo, Mike Mangini ushered in a song from the start of the Dream Theater catalog, “A Fortune in Lies” off their debut album When Day and Dream Unite. This was a very special treat for us long time, hardcore fans. “Outcry” off their latest followed that one up and proved to be one of the most powerful songs of the evening as images of the struggle in the Middle East flashed on the cube-screens in the background.
Calling to make things more intimate James LaBrie, John Petrucci, and Jordan Rudress took the stage for an acoustic sing-a-long interlude where they returned to Awake and performed “The Silent Man” as well as “Beneath the Surface” from A Dramatic Turn of Events. The audience was very receptive to these songs and gladly sung along.
Sticking with the newer material DT kicked it back into high gear and broke out their latest single “On the Back of Angels” and then pulled out one of their all time best tunes, “War Inside My Head” off of 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence. To say they rocked the socks off that song would be an understatement as John Petrucci and Jordan Rudress went off the beaten path and added many improve spots and all round had tons of fun with the tune. Sticking with 6 Degrees they seamlessly melded into “The Test That Stumped Them All” and gave it the same Dream Theater live experience.
After that injection of high paced progressive metal it was time for the most special moment of the evening. After an emotional intro solo by James LaBrie and Co. rejoined the stage and James introduced the next song. He talked about the Costa Concordia cruise ship tragedy that happened in Italy some weeks before and made special note of a man named Guiseppe Girolamo. Giuseppe was a drummer on the cruise ship and huge Dream Theater fan. He had given his spot up on one of the life rafts to a child and then went back into the ship to do what he could to help, and unfortunately lost his life in his unselfish courage. “The Spirit Carries On” was dedicated to him and by the time they were done with the tribute there was not a dry eye in the house. During the song, the passion and energy of each member was just radiating beyond belief and the audience reflected that back. A truly powerful and genuine moment and will go down as one of the single most powerful moments I’ve experienced at a concert ever and it will never be forgotten.
As everyone wiped the tears from their eyes Dream Theater closed off the show with another recent song, “Breaking All Illusions” and said their first goodbyes and thanks to everyone. After some moments of darkness the band took the stage for the obligatory encore where they played their ‘greatest hit’ “Pull Me Under”, took a bow and left us all with wonderful memories of an amazing concert.
Dream Theater have proved yet again that they are masters of their craft and no matter how big they may be they will always make their fans feel special and witnessing unique and special shows. The set list was wonderful and diverse and each member was thrilled to be there and at the top of his game. If you have never seen Dream Theater before I recommend putting them very high on your concert priority list, and if you’ve seen them before to go see the again as no show is anything like the one before it, except in the fact that it will always be wonderful and magical. Peace Love and Metal!!!
Sorry there’s no pictures, I forgot my camera, whoops. Check out these fan filmed videos of the show, especially the one for “The Spirit Carries On”.