Concert Review: Dream Theater – Wembley Arena – London

Dream Theater graced London’s Wembley Arena last night (10 Feb 2012). My 5th experience with them was nothing less than astonishing. This also marks the first time I see the band with new drummer Mike Mangini…the dude is a monster! This was also a special treat for me because my companion for the night was my 8-year old son who…totally got into it! Though he did get tired later in the night, can’t blame him it was a late night for him. Today I am listening to Dream Theater and he is remembering what he heard last night. Man, that shit brings a tear to my eye…metalheads in the making 😉

It’s hard to sum up a Dream Theater show without using words like magical, phenomenal, or impressive. Anyone who has seen Dream Theater knows that. Even if you don’t like them, you cannot deny their musicianship. If you haven’t seen them yet, you should as soon as possible. It’s a show you will remember for the rest of your life. Bottom line, the show was fantastic and the 2+ hour set went by far too fast.

Opening act Periphery was pretty good. It’s hard to lay judgment, I don’t know much about them except for a song or two. What they play looks complicated; nothing seemed out of tune to me. The lead guitarist had some great solos. I am not sure how I am taking to the djent genre yet, but I would rather see a band like Periphery get up there and play complicated music than see someone try to scream as loud as humanly possible. Overall, they did a good job.

Even after seeing Dream Theater five times, they still pull the dust off songs (I am almost positive) I haven’t heard live before. Of course, the bulk of their set list came from A Dramatic Turn of Events. They did NOT open with On The Backs of Angels as I suspected they would. They did play it, just later in the show. We also got to hear Outcry and Build Me Up, Break Me Down just to name a few new songs. I don’t want to give up too much information for people who are patiently waiting for Dream Theater to come to their town, but there were some surprises in last night’s set list.

Although there was a short acoustic set, the guys brought heaviness to the night unlike I remember seeing in the past. Some songs you would expect them to play; they played such as Pull Me Under and The Spirit Carries On. I remember they sang the latter in Austin, TX years ago and dedicated it to the victims of the bridge collapse in Minnesota. I always think of that now when I hear the song.

Now for the moment everyone in Wembley Arena was waiting for…Mike Mangini’s drum solo. I can tell everyone was waiting for this moment because when James announced him and he started to play, there must have been a thousand LED camera displays light up in front of me. I was tempted to record it myself, but for that particular moment I wanted to absorb his drumming mastery without looking at it through one eye. Yes, I use an actual camera not an iPhone. I have seen many clips of his drumming prowess, but it does absolutely no justice to seeing it live. Hence, he is an absolute monster!

The rest of the guys were brilliant in their musicianship to say the least. This is why Dream Theater is a must see live band. They are precise, professional, clean, crisp, and even after seeing them five times, I still got to see & hear songs I have never seen live which were not in support of a new album.

The crowd was fully participative. They sang on command and on their own. Despite seats for everyone, they (we) all stood up for the entire show. Were there any disappointments? Well, I would have liked to hear The Count of Tuscany, Constant Motion, Blind Faith, or 20 other songs. Beggars can’t be choosers though. I did get to hear my favorite song off Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. If you want to know what that is just ask. Again, I don’t want to spoil it for others.

Overall, the show was amazing. At this point, Dream Theater can’t play long enough to play everything people want to hear. They had a great set list for last night’s show; I can’t imagine anyone leaving disappointed. The only other bit of excitement for the night was seeing a dude on the train projectile vomit while passed out sitting up. You should have seen that whole section of the train car clear out.

Next up on my concert “to-do” list is Chimaira in March in a small tiny club in Norwich. I am anticipating a good show…third time for Chimaira, but first time as a headliner.

Below is one of the clips of last night’s performance.  Enjoy!


About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on February 11, 2012, in Concert Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Nice review man, sounds like a good time! I’ve only seen Dream Theater when they opened for Iron Maiden, and they were awesome. Glad I got to see Portnoy before he left, although Mangini is a beast. It will be awesome when I finally get to see them headline! – Chris

  2. Awesome gig. 9th time I’ve seen them and they played the one song I’ve been dying to hear and never heard them play before – “A Fortune In Lies”. Each DT show over the years is different to the one previous at the same / similar venue so I was really happy with the set list and the bias towards new material. James’s vocals are so much more consistent than the were years back and Mangini proved from day one to be the perfect replacement for Portnoy.

  3. Well what a treat! After waiting outside in the sub zero temperatures and after being let in to endure the dross that was Periphery It needed something extraordinary to raise my spirits. Dream Theater delivered on every level! It was my first DT concert and I was blown away… And I agree with the comments about Mangini… one word – Incredible.

  4. One week to go till DT lands in Milan! Can’t wait for this show, I’ve seen DT about 6 times before and they always kick ass. Good to hear Mangini is tearing it up live. By the pics it looks like they have a great stage set up.
    That’s awesome your little guy is digging on DT. Parenting win!!

  5. @ Alan and Nick – I’m glad you enjoyed the show. Dream Theater did a great job. I don’t blame them for playing that much off the new album. I imagine they wanted Mangini to play music he helped create. As far as the older material, it’s great to hear songs for the first time, every time I see them. They definitely don’t like to stick to the same old material which is great. Pull Me Under…sure, but the rest of the set list is always a nice mix and a cool surprise.

    @ Housebroken – The stage is simple, but effective. It’s cool, but not over the top. I am excited for you and hope you enjoy what they have to offer on this tour. Yeah, My son dug it. Probably a bit of a late night for his first gig, but he did have fun. Most of the shows I go to say 14+, even in theaters.

  6. Hi….can you tell me how many attended the concert in London. I live in Norway now and saw the concert at the Valhall Arena in Oslo in January….it was a small and intimate gig, but awesome to say the least….I have seen a few postings on youtube, and have to admit that although the drum solo by Mike was brill, the solo he did in Oslo, I thought to be much better. It is the first time I have seen them live…..I have attended many gigs throughout my life and have to be true in saying, ok they don’t have all the frills, being non-commercial…..but they have the wow factor, after so many years 🙂 Sadly the only thing, that ‘spoilt’ the whole show, was the backing band….ok, I appreciate, most kinds of music, but they were too progressive for my taste 😦 My next gig I will silently wait for, is that of Ayreon, but I don’t think he has any plans for a tour at this moment…..thanks for your time 🙂

    • Hey thank you for stopping by. Sounds like you had a good show in Norway. The one in England was probably easily several thousand. It’s hard to say, Wembely arena could probably fit 10K, but they had seats on the main floor. And some of the stadium seats were blocked off with curtains. It was a big crowd, but not huge. Come on by anytime. We love Dream Theater here!

      • awwww thank you so much for your quick response 🙂 i am actually a Manx girl (Isle of Man) living in Norway for 6 months now from moving from Manchester (Oldham) after 10 years and a ’44 year old virgin’, when seeing Dream theater for the first time :)……please keep me posted as I have looked into how many were present at the Valhall Arena, after making my earlier post and had to wait for my partner to translate….7,000. So, yeah like you, it was intimate….these kinda gigs I feel are much better and have more feeling 🙂 I thought you might like to see the solo from Mike that we recorded…..not fantastic, as it is from a basic digi phone and also the ‘Spirit Carries On’….I am still buzzing from the concert and can’t stress (like yourself) how really in tune with music these guys are…..Thanks again for your quick reply ‘Shaz and Runar’ 🙂

      • Seriously, the dude is just a monster. I am glad Dream Theater found him. Did you know he drums for James LaBrie’s solo band?

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