At The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., June 9, 2007

DREAM THEATER (Live at The City Hall, Newcastle, U.K., June 9, 2007)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Dream Theater were due to make their debut appearance on the 10th of June at the Download Festival at Donnington Park, an event carved into in Metal folklore. Never being a band to waste an opportunity, they managed to slip in an extra gig while they were in the UK and the people of Newcastle were the lucky recipients.

This was their first visit to the Northeast of England, and throughout the day the City Centre became more and more populated by Dream Theater shirts and accents from the four corners of the world, as the excitement built up towards showtime.

After a somewhat patchy show by support act To-Mera, it was time for Dream Theater to step out onto the stage. Prior to the show, Mike Portnoy spoke to Metal Express Radio and promised one special Dream Theater set. The band would be returning to the UK in October for a full tour in support of their excellent new Systematic Chaos opus, but this show was going to be just a little different.

Kicking off with “Overture 1928” and “Strange Deja Vous” from the classic Metropolis Part 2 album, Dream Theater went straight into the thick of it. Portnoy’s huge drum kit enveloped the whole of the backline like an enormous gleaming metal space-age cage. A kit this size would conceal most drummers, but not Portnoy, who spent most of the night jumping up and down, punching the air, throwing sticks and gobbing into some spittoon off stage while at all times racing round his kit like a pneumatic octopus!! A real showman and a fantastic drummer.

The sound at the front was very, very loud with “Panic Attack” and “Constant Motion,” the first of two new songs aired during the show, coming across even more aggressively than on the album.

Retiring to a more civilized spot immediately behind the mixing desk for the rest of the set, the sound, volume, and balance was near perfect.

The second and final track from Systematic Chaos, “Forsaken,” was a real shit-kicker, a natural successor to “Pull Me Under,” and a sure fire crowd favorite of the future.

Well, Mr Portnoy promised a surprise, and Dream Theater duly obliged by revealing that they would be playing the entire Images And Words album from start to finish. The crowd not surprising went nuts as the opening notes of the aforementioned “Pull Me Under” rang out.

As any Dream Theater aficionado will know, Images and Words is simply choc full of highlights, and is arguably the finest album of the Progressive Metal genre. It is a real pleasure to see such an album played by musicians at the top of their game.

From the pure intensity of “Metropolis Part 1- The Miracle And The Sleeper” to the soothing “Another Day” and the haunting “Wait For Sleep” right through to the thundering, dramatic conclusion of “Learning To Live,” where James LaBrie hit notes that only bats could hear, and the crowd roared its approval as LaBrie nailed every one during its final crescendo, Dream Theater put on a show befitting their ever-rising status in the Metal world.

The band returned to the stage, with Portnoy wearing a Newcastle football shirt, to finally close the show with “Home,” and ended a great night for those lucky enough to grab a ticket for this show.

Dream Theater are a rare breed — one of only a few acts who have genuinely progressed since their inception in the 1980s and have consistently produced top class albums while sticking resolutely to their principles. They continue to perform at the highest level in the live arena and leave their nearest competitors far behind in their wake. A very special night by a very special band.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.