In Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway, September 29, 2007

Written in collaboration by Andreas Nergård and Kristian Singh-Nergård.

September 29th is a date that most Progressive Metallers in Norway will remember for a long time. This was the night when the legends of Progressive Metal, Dream Theater, and Symphonic Power/Progressive Metallers Symphony X gathered their strength to give the people of Norway an incredible night of technical, complex, and proficient Metal.

Symphony X

It can’t be an easy job to be a warm-up band for the mighty Dream Theater. Symphony X, however, was cut out for the job beyond any doubt. As the orchestra version of the intro “Oculus Ex Inferni” from their new record Paradise Lost was playing over the speakers at the Oslo Spektrum, the band entered the stage, highly welcomed by the audience.

The anticipation was great among the crowd and Symphony X didn’t disappoint … well, to a certain point at least. During the first two songs, “Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies)” and “Domination,” the sound was garbage. The only thing you could hear were the guitar and vocals. The fact that guitarist Michael Romeo uses Line6 amps didn’t make it any better. The guitar sound was too crunchy and had too much treble. This doesn’t affect his solo playing that much, but the heavy riffing sounds like crap. However, if fans saw past this, they got to see a really great concert in the end.

Michael Romeo is a great and technically gifted guitarist that comes out as a new and improved version of Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. The instrumental parts were amazing and the band was incredibly tight. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella had some impressive solo’s (when the crowd finally heard them) that filled out Romeo’s guitar playing perfectly, and bassist Michael Lepond did a great job on the bass. It was cool to listen to songs like “Domination” and “Sea Of Lies” that opened with a terrific bass intro. He varied on a fine line between doing his own thing and duplicating Romeo’s playing.

Though the musicians were excellent, the real hero of this concert was vocalist Russell Allen. He showed a great vocal range and really got the crowd singing on songs like “Paradise Lost” and “The Serpent’s Kiss,” and, of course, on crowd-pleasers like the “old” songs; “Sea Of Lies” and “Of Sins And Shadows.” He really ignited a spark in the crowd when he claimed that the fans at their show in Sweden the day before were louder. Hereinafter the crowd sang as loud as hell, and Russell said: “I didn’t know you Viking motherf**kers could rock so hard!” Symphony X had the tempo, the skills, and a fit frontman to warm up the crowd. What a perfect band for the occasion.

Setlist for Symphony X:
1. Intro: Oculus Ex Inferni (orchestra only version) (from: Paradise Lost)
2. Set The World On Fire (The Lie Of Lies) (from: Paradise Lost )
3. Domination (from: Paradise Lost )
4. The Serpent’s Kiss (from: Paradise Lost )
5. Paradise Lost (from: Paradise Lost )
6. Inferno (Unleash The Fire) (from: The Odyssey)
7. Sea Of Lies (from: The Odyssey)
8. Of Sins And Shadows (from: The Divine Wings Of Tragedy)

Dream Theater

Dream Theater is for certain a band that won’t need much introduction. After their beginning in the late 80s, they’ve developed a style that has taken the Progressive Metal scene to another level. After great success through the previous years, they have now released an extraordinary album called Systematic Chaos; an album that has done quite well during the few months after its release.

Dream Theater came onstage and played a short excerpt from the movie theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oslo Spektrum was completely sold out this evening and the crowd was noticeably excited. Dream Theater was not about to disappoint them. They went on to play “In The Presence Of Enemies Part I & II,” which lasted for about twenty-five minutes. This pretty much sums up what kind of a band Dream Theater is; they can play several long songs during a set and the crowd will love it!

Next was “Strange Déjà Vu” from 1999’s Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory. It was a bit of a disappointment that they didn’t play “Overture 1928” first, because these two songs are as one. On the other hand, it would be impossible to play anything from that record if they couldn’t break it up, because after all, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory is a concept album where all the songs merge into each other. However, the crowd loved it, and though Dream Theater seemed to play some old stuff that they haven’t done in a while, the crowd seemed to know the words to all the songs in the set.

The only song Dream Theater played out of their Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence was “Blind Faith.” It’s an ok song, but they could perhaps have used the space for more of the old stuff instead. “Surrounded” got a new turn this evening. They did a new intro and had added a much longer instrumental/solo part. This allowed Jordan Rudess to get to the front of the stage with his keytar to play during the solo.

“Constant Motion,” one of the leading songs from their new album, was the track that would open up for the more heavy sequence of the show. John Petrucci played this one so tight and massive that it is hard to believe there was no second guitar player. James LaBrie really deserves a medal for his terrific performance this night! His voice sounded rough and chimerical, much better than the James LaBrie many knew from the late 90’s. He actually sounded more like he did when he first joined the band.

Systematic Chaos seems to be heavily inspired by Metallica, and the songs they played from the album gave a heavier, but still very varied set list. More heavy music followed with “The Dark Eternal Night,” and during the song they showed an animated movie on the big screen. The movie featured the members of Dream Theater as heroes of a group called N.A.D.S. (North American Dream Squad). It was pretty funny and really cool to watch during the insane instrumental part of the song.

After “The Dark Eternal Night,” everyone except Rudess left the stage. It was time for a keyboard solo spot. During the solo spot, Rudess experimented with both his regular Korg keyboard as well as his Continuum fingerboard. The fingerboard is a extremely cool invention. It has no key’s like a regular keyboard, but rather a single board where the key’s are divided into red and black fields on the board itself. When you move your finger up and down the board there is a change in the pitch height, and you can also bend the notes. This instrument has similarities to for instance a fretless bass. The solo spot also let Rudess go to the front of the stage with the keytar again. He actually got more cheers from the crowd than the rest of the band combined, but seen as how unusual it is for him to come to the front of the stage, it may not be a mystery after all.

Next was a joyful reunion with “Lines In The Sand” from Falling Into Infinity. This song must have the undisputed most beautiful guitar solo of all the songs that Dream Theater’s ever written. The old stuff is more melodic and the lighter part of the set was given with “Lines In The Sand” and the U2’ish “I Walk Beside You” from Octavarium, followed by the jovial “Take The Time” from Images And Words.

As “Take The Time” ended, the band left the stage only to return with their obligatory encore. The first song the crowd got was fifteen more minutes of Systematic Chaos with “Ministry Of Lost Souls.” This was the fourth song in the set that counted over ten minutes, but as earlier mentioned; the crowd loved it. The song is slow up until approximately seven minutes have passed. Then fans got the insane, progressive, heavy, odd-metered, instrumental parts that are Dream Theater’s trademark.

As if they wanted to say “Sorry, we can’t play our entire back catalog!” they played a looong medley to end the set. The medley consisted of brilliant excerpts from “Trail Of Tears,” “One Last Time,” “Learning To Live,” “In The Name Of God,” and “Octavarium.” This medley must be the answer to fans that missed songs from albums like When Dream And Day Unite and Awake. With a back catalog like Dream Theater’s you simply can’t play everything. The medley concluded one fantastic show, and as usual, Dream Theater gave the crowd their money’s worth with approximately two hours and twenty minutes of pure musical joy.

Setlist Dream Theater:
1. Intro: Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. In The Presence Of Enemies part I & II (from Systematic Chaos)
3. Strange Déjà Vu (from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory)
4. Blind Faith (from Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence)
5. Surrounded (from Images And Words)
6. Constant Motion (from Systematic Chaos)
7. The Dark Eternal Night (from Systematic Chaos)
8. Keyboard solo spot
9. Lines In The Sand (from Falling Into Infinity)
10. I Walk Beside You (from Octavarium)
11. Take The Time (from Images And Words)
12. Ministry Of Lost Souls (from Systematic Chaos)
13. Medley:
I. Trail Of Tears (from Falling Into Infinity)
II. One Last Time (from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory)
III. Learning To Live (from Images And Words)
IV. In The Name Of God (from Train Of Thought)
V. Octavarium (from Octavarium)


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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