More is more med metalproggkungarna

Dream Theater
“Along for the Ride/An Evening with Dream Theater tour”
Annexet, Stockholm 140222

Så. Bra. Att. Jag. (Nästan). Saknar. Ord.
Veteranerna i Dream Theater anno 2014 låter bättre live än de någonsin har gjort och är, för att citera trumvirtuosen Mike Mangini (se intervju), well-oiled.
Du som läser dessa rader tycker garanterat redan om Dream Theater; undertecknad tvivlar inte en sekund på det. DT är bandet som fansen älskar att dyrka och som belackarna älskar att kasta skit på.

Jag finner därför ingen anledning i att grotta ner mig i detaljer när det gäller just den här konserten, som är en av de absolut bästa jag någonsin bevittnat i mitt 42-åriga liv.
Men jag kan inte låta bli att lista de, i mina öron och ögon, fem bästa ögonblicken:
1. Den inledande låttrippeln (se låtlista nedan) var inget annat än hur mäktig som helst. Jag får gåshud bara jag tänker tillbaka på just de 30 minuterna.
2. James LaBrie har en röst som är i toppform för dagen och uppenbarligen har hans stämband mognat i stil med ett lyxvin.
3. Det är uppfriskande att bandet tror så mycket på sitt nyare material att de valde att inte framföra “givna” låtar som exempelvis superduperhiten Pull Me Under. Istället varvades nya favoriter med mer eller mindre udda örongodis från det förflutna. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream spelas på denna turné för första gången sedan 2002 och Scarred för första gången sedan 2007.  Dessutom spelas Trail of Tears och Finally Free i sin helhet för första gången sedan 2004 respektive 2005.
4. Det läckra scenbygget, inklusive videosekvenserna, är det proffsigaste som metalproggkungarna fått till hittills i karriären.
5. Breaking All Illusions framstod denna kväll som en av alla tiders DT-klassiker. En ren njutning att lyssna på.
Ett enda minus är vad jag kan skrapa fram och det är att ljudet var alldeles för högt. Okej, visst var det klart och tydligt (med en extra eloge till knivskarpt gitarr- och trumljud) som på en perfekt liveskiva, men som sagt lite väl tufft för trumhinnorna. Bara för att det handlar om hårdrock behöver inte volymknappen vridas upp maximalt.
Sammantaget och med sisådär en veckas distans till denna konsertupplevelse är en sak glasklar och det är att jag redan väntar till nästa gång som den fantastiska musikmaskinen Dream Theater besöker Sverige. Jag säger som Yngwie Malmsteen skulle ha sagt; more is more.

False Awakening Suite
The Enemy Inside
The Shattered Fortress
On the Backs of Angels
The Looking Glass
Trial of Tears
Enigma Machine (med Mike Mangini solo)
Along for the Ride
Breaking All Illusions
The Mirror
Lifting Shadows Off a Dream
Space-Dye Vest
Illumination Theory
Overture 1928
Strange Déjà Vu
The Dance of Eternity
Finally Free
Illumination Theory (Outro)

”We do the best show we can, and we want people to see this”


Mike Mangini (Dream Theater)
Radisson Viking, Stockholm 140222

You’re almost done with the European part of the Along for the ride/An evening with Dream Theater tour. How has the tour been so far, and will you keep the same show for the upcoming American tour?
It’s been amazing. And we’re going to keep this show because the production is so specific and exact. It’s a work of perfection.  So we’re going to make sure that everybody gets to see this, because they need to see it, haha.
You won’t believe it and when you see it you’ll know why it took us so much work. Even during the first week of shows we were just beginning to get it together. Really just beginning to get it together. It was very difficult for us. But now we’ve got it together.

So those who see your show tonight in Stockholm will see you at your very best?
Well, we are definitely more well-oiled. But everything has it’s plus and minus, you know. In the earlier shows on this tour we didn’t know every detail; what to do all the time and stuff like that. So some special things happened, stuff you didn’t get anywhere else. Anyway, it’s all good.

How did you come up with the idea for this tour, including celebrations of the albums Awake (2004) and Scenes of a Memory (2009)?
That’s just a normal Dream Theater thing. That was on automatic pilot in the group conversations. It was just brought up and now we’re doing it. It gives the tour something in addition to our new album.

You only have two songs from the very successful album A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011), which even gave you a Grammy nomination for On the Backs of Angels, in the setlist. Why?
We played all songs from that album on the last tour. The thing is that Breaking All Illusions is so overwhelmingly popular amongst the fans, so we have to play that one. And it was a great feeling to be Grammy nominated for On the Backs of Angels, even though I’ve been there before with Steve Vai. Anyway; the fans love that one as well and they sing it so loud night after night. It’s fantastic to write music that has a feeling that translates to people.
Grammys are not retroactive, no one gets a Grammy for their history. If people think that they are really stupid and they don’t know the facts. From the new album we got a Grammy nomination for The Enemy Inside, but Black Sabbath  won. But they are heavy metal icons so it’s all good. And, you know, we all love those Black Sabbath riffs – you can’t deny it, they’re awesome.

Talking about the setlist; how did you put this new one together?
Well, the production is so huge so we can’t just throw a new song in. It’s gonna be sloppy and with inconsistent timing if we do that. I wanna say this appropriately, you know, most people need time with their music.
On this tour we’ve been timing so that the guitar delays fit in time and that the videos are on time and so on. We play all of the songs in the right tempo. You know, before, Mike Portnoy sometimes played some of the songs faster. But look at it; it’s not just him. I would too, if the set list would change.
Now we have utter perfection every single night. We do the best show we can, and we want people to see this.

And how did you put the drum solo together for this tour?
I look at it in the same way that I would write an essay. What I do is I write down my favorite moves. And I also include moves that I need to practice. I write down ideas that has connections between them; in a mathematical, dynamic or melodic way.
When an idea or two doesn’t fit I can’t use them in the solo beacuse it’s like writing a set list, or you asking a questions that doesn’t belong in the middle of this interview. I have to choose the things that work together and things that are new and fresh. The drum solo is only about two minutes and if I put too many ideas in it, it’s gonna sound like chaos, you kow.
On this tour I play the melody from Enigma Machine on tubular bells, it gives the solo an actual melody and it’s a cool thing to do.

Do you have any favorite Dream Theater songs to play live?
Of the old ones I enjoy Strange Déjà Vu. I’ve been waiting to play that one for a long time. From the new album I have to say Enigma Machine. And also, one that we’re not playing right now, Surrender to Reason, which has a huge chorus and great melody.

You all look very happy on stage and it seems like you enjoy each other’s company. Is that a correct observation?
Yes, we’re very comfortable with each other. We play dead on and that reflects on the way we perform. People see that we have space in our minds. We can make faces at each other, interact with the crowd and we can even talk to each other during the show.
If you look, you can see that Jordan and I make faces and talk to each other during the whole show. But it’s not just us; all of us do that. You probably can’t see John Muyngs face but believe me when I say that he smiles too.
So yes, we have fun together on stage and we have a great connection when we play. It’s really, really something special.

What do you think about the two studio albums that you’ve done with Dream Theater so far?
The first one (A Dramatic Turn of Events, 2011) was a great experience and turned out really good.  The new one (Dream Theater, 2013) is like an extension and it just happened naturally, since we all know each other now.

What’s the writing process for a new Dream Theater song like?
If we write around a guitar riff it’s because John took some time to figure out this cool thing. Or if we write around a keyboard it’s the same thing; they took time to figure out the shape of the song. Then each band member has to spend a second or two to figure out the parts at their own instrument.
It’s effortless and we have so many ideas; the just keep coming. We could do a new album every month, haha.

In your own opinion; what’s your biggest contribution to Dream Theater?
Attitude. I contribute an attitude that’s extremely growth-oriented, and like positive. I mean, you know, it’s attitude and respect. You can’t go wrong with that.
My attitude is I’m always trying to excel. I want us to keep developing.

Is there anything else you want to add?
Well, you tell me whether I’m right or wrong. Most people that have seen our shows have said one thing in common to all of us, and we didn’t expect it. You see, there’s so many more women at the shows. But just think about it for a minute. You know, when I see women it’s the best sign because they really feel the music and they get what Dream Theater is all about.
I don’t know, maybe it could be the documentary that have made more women to go to our shows. They’ve seen that we’re nice guys. And guess what? From the place I’m looking there’s a lot of pretty ones too, haha. This is actually the first time I’ve said it myself in an interview, and you’ll see for yourself tonight.
There seems to be a stigma or a stereotype that women only like pop music and stuff like that, but that’s not true. When I played in Extreme girls threw their underwear on stage. But the Dream Theater women are more educated and very musically aware. And yes, also attractive. It’s just the way it is. You know, even my wife said it!
Our music has a bit more consistently groove in a lot of ways, I mean it’s just… It’s melody and stuff like that and I think this is translating to women. I  think that and the fact that we in interviews speak very respectfully and don’t say anything disrespectful.
Women like us! Plus, I think our male fans have really good taste, haha.

Konsertrecension, intervju och foto: Magnus Bergström/Hå