Last night after the show (Dream Theater @ Radio City Music Hall, NYC) I was thinking I had witnessed the best DT show ever. It was a powerful performance, augmented by a full orchestra for about 2/3 of the material. They chose some rare tracks to play. Details and an excellent review of the evening by “hefdaddy42” can be found here.

I hadn’t read about setlists or possible surprises before the show, so I was completely stunned when after an hour of performance and a 15-minute intermission, the curtain opened to reveal an orchestra assembled in what was previously empty space. That took some serious work to complete in that time and I was blown away. The person who pre-announced the band said something about “you won’t believe the stage setup” and I was underwhelmed by the setup in the first set. Little did I know….

Some of the song choices were rare. After opening with “The Root Of All Evil” and “I Walk Beside You” from Octavarium, the band started a chronological journey, playing a song from each of their albums. I wasn’t familiar with the selections from the Majesty demos or When Dream And Day Unite, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them. The selections of “Under A Glass Moon” and “Innocence Faded” were fine with me. I don’t recall ever having seen them perform “IF” live, since I missed the tours between Images And Words and Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. The non-album track “Raise The Knife” was cool; I don’t think I’d heard it before. “The Spirit Carries On” was a quick step on the Metropolis 2000: Scenes From A Memory “stone”; the band throughly captured that album live on DVD previously.

The performance of the 6DOIT suite, the first with the orchestra on stage, was amazing. 6DOIT is a DT album I’ve never really given a full chance to win me over; that might have made the performance a little more poignant for me. Next up was “Vacant”, another short number that gave most of the band a breather. After that, they played “Sacrificed Sons” and the long “Octavarium”, which was very fun to watch. Jordan Rudess was killer on this song, playing lap steel guitar, a touch-sensitive instrument I’m not familiar with, and a big analog synthesizer that, until he used it, seemed to me to be a prop. I guess I should know that Jordan’s too economical about his onstage equipment to have excessive props. The band’s encore was a full rendition of “Metropolis Part 1”.

I had fun watching DT bassist John Myung. He smiled during the show more than I remember seeing in the past, and he had a number of solo fills that he pulled off brilliantly. He was definitely under-represented in the live video monitors; I hope he’s not forgotten when they direct the DVD release of this show. I enjoyed the performances by all the DT band members, but seemed to watch JM, JR, and John Petrucci the most.

Don had told me that the new DVD/CD release of the “official” DT bootleg of their performance of Dark Side Of The Moon was going to be on sale at the show. When we couldn’t get that at the merch stand before the show, we each settled for the CD. As we were leaving, I saw the DVD at the stand we were passing, so Don traded the unopened CD back and we each got a DVD.

Obscure setlist, orchestra, Radio City Music Hall, great playing, future DVD release… how could this concert be any better for the longtime DT fan? I was glad to see it live. Thanks to Don for getting the tickets and hosting me for my yearly concert trip!

Don’s recap of the show is here.