in Oslo Spektrum, Oslo, Norway, February 21, 2014

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

All photos by Patrick Larsen Holseth.

Along for the Ride Tour is basically a night with Dream Theater. They didn’t bring a support band with them this time and there was no need; Dream Theater played for three hours. The set was divided into three parts. Act I consisted mostly of songs of the new self-titled album as well as a few other relatively new songs and the addition of “Trail of Tears” off 1997’s Falling into Infinity. Act II was a celebration of Awake’s 20th anniversary while the encore was a celebration of Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory’s 15th anniversary. There was a fifteen minute break between Act I and II where weird Dream Theater related YouTube clips were shown. Other than that it was a three hour Progressive Metal fest.

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Popularity-wise it’s obvious that the band is suffering a bit from former drummer Mike Portnoy’s exit. The last time Dream Theater played in Oslo with Portnoy the venue Oslo Spektrum was packed with 7-8000 in the crowd. When Dream Theater returned a little over two years later with Mike Mangini hitting the ol’ cans the crowd had decreased in numbers (3500). This night there were approximately 4000 metal heads in the venue. Music-wise Portnoy is also missed. The songs are still good and technical and the contain everything a prog head needs but they lack the same level of creativity they had with Portnoy in the band. It’s also a bit “quieter” on stage now than before whether you like it or not.

DREAM THEATER (Oslo, Norway, February 21st 2014)
DREAM THEATER (Oslo, Norway, February 21st 2014)
Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

James LaBrie is singing better than he’s done in quite a while. There were no detectable flaws even though he sometimes avoided a few high notes if there were a lot of them in a row. The collaboration between keyboardist Jordan Rudess and guitarist John Petrucci is breathtaking as always. They execute unison shredding at an incredible speed with such ease that it’s amazing how it’s even possible. Petrucci showed some tasteful skills with “Breaking All Illusions,” one of the more atmospheric songs off the new album. The audience also received a joyful revisit with “Lie” which has one of Petrucci’s best solos. It is a solo that includes everything, both melody-wise and technically.

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Jordan Rudess is a gifted keyboardist. He’s probably among the best (if not the best) Progressive Metal keyboardists in the world. He’s a technical wonder. But at times it seems he wants to show off a bit too much. When he switches gears in the middle of the solo (from his regular keyboard to another keyboard, his iPad or the keytar) there is a noticable gap of silence. Sometimes it’s better to keep the flow in the show instead of showing off. Another thing is towards the end of the song “The Mirror”. The original has this massive epic keyboard layer that takes the song to another level. Rudess instead chose to run with a keyboard solo that included as many notes as possible (one of many this night). He made the ending something completely different and not for the better.

Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

Dream Theater is and has never been a mainstream band. Even though the new album was nominated for a Grammy they’ve never been a commercial success. That’s not what the band is about and they underlined this point by playing six songs that clocked in over ten minutes of length and three instrumentals at this show. It can be argued that Dream Theater is a band by musicians for musicians because a lot of the music can be hard to grasp if you don’t play an instrument. That being said they have some shorter songs that are great as well, like “The Looking Glass,” “Lifting Shadows off a Dream” and “Strange Déjà Vu.”

DREAM THEATER (Oslo, Norway, February 21st 2014)
DREAM THEATER (Oslo, Norway, February 21st 2014)
Photo by Patrick Larsen Holseth

The highlights of the show were many but “The Shattered Fortress,” “Enigma Machine” and “Illumination Theory” were arguably the best off the newer albums while “The Mirror,” “Lie” and “The Dance of Eternity” were the highlights off the older albums.

The band hasn’t been this good since the height of the Portnoy days and if you have the opportunity to go see them you really should.


Act I: The Enemy Inside / The Shattered Fortress / On the Backs of Angels / The Looking Glass / Trail of Tears / Enigma Machine (with drum solo by Mike Mangini) / Along for the Ride / Breaking All Illusions
Act II: The Mirror / Lie / Lifting Shadows off a Dream / Scarred / Space-Dye Vest / Illumination Theory
Encore: Overture 1928 / Strange Déjà Vu / The Dance of Eternity / Finally Free


  • 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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