at The Utilita Arena, Newcastle, U.K., April 21, 2022

DREAM THEATER (Live at The Utilita Arena, Newcastle, U.K., April 21, 2022)
Photo: Mick Burgess

There’s not many bands quite like Dream Theater. Who else could bookend their show starting with the recent Grammy Award Winning “The Alien” and closing with the 20-minute epic, “A View From The Top Of The World”, both from their latest album? Then Dream Theater have never quite followed the rule book forging their own path blending the complex Prog of Rush with the Pomp of Styx and the heaviness of Metallica creating a new genre of Progressive Metal, spawning thousands of imitators in their wake.

As one of only three dates on this UK leg of their European tour and their first appearance in Newcastle in 15 years and only the second in their 35-year history, this was a rare and much anticipated opportunity to catch them on North-eastern soil.

Although there are no catchy anthems to sing along to or sweet little tunes to hum along to as you potter down the street, where Dream Theater excel is the jaw dropping level of musical virtuosity on display where songs such as “Awaken The Master” and “Bridges In The Sky” stretch out enabling guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess push the barriers of musicianship to the very limit. It can be hard work for the uninitiated but to Dream Theater fans this takes music to an altogether higher level.

It’s not all flashy solos and showboating though, there’s quality music in there too built on solid melodic foundations as singer James LaBrie powerful vocals impress throughout especially on the moving “The Ministry Of Lost Souls.”

Such is the strength of Dream Theater’s back catalogue and having an open-minded fan base, they are able to play only one song, “6:00”, from their first five albums, and side step altogether anything from arguably their two most popular releases Images and Words and Metropolis 2: Scenes From A Memory and play almost half of their latest album, A View From The Top Of The World. Maybe it is this ability to radically change the setlist from tour to tour that keeps things fresh and keeps the fans coming back for more. It says something for a band of their vintage that the title track of their latest release may well have been the best song of the night. It was big, bold, dramatic and absolutely stunning.

For most bands a one song encore would be considered somewhat on the stingy side but “Count Of Tuscany” clocks in at a whopping 20 minutes or so covering every conceivable musical base along the way.

It may have been a 15 year wait for Dream Theater’s Newcastle fans but after 2 hours of immense musicianship and top-quality songs, they delivered an absolute masterclass in Progressive Metal.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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.

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