Dream Theater presents The Astonishing in Theater Carré

By Dmitry Kann 5 min read
This post  in Russian

The band Dream Theater is absolutely legendary. They are considered the founders of the progressive metal genre, and each of them alone is equally legendary. If you doubt that, just watch their Instrumedley video; not many musicians in the world are capable of playing something like that.

The band was presenting their new album The Astonishing in the Theater Carré in Amsterdam on February 23rd.

Dream Theater in Carré. Before the start of the show.
Dream Theater in Carré. Before the start of the show.

Like previously with The Aristocrats, all photography and filming were banned. Anyone trying to take photos with a camera or a mobile phone (which was every other person in the audience) would be approached by the security and politely, even benevolently, advised not to do it any more. The second occurrence would lead to banishing of the offender. On the photo above you can see one of them also rushing to me through the aisle.

On the one hand it makes sense, as the show is completely new and the band don’t want all of it momentarily landing on YouTube. The concert is also more enjoyable when no one waves their phone before you.

But on the other it’s utterly disgusting. How come fidgeting in the seat, nose-picking or even giggling are permitted and filming is not? I would like to have some material memory after the show, but the security did their job all too diligently, incessantly scanning the audience for the whole duration of the concert.

Therefore I’ve only managed to make a couple of photos, and no video at all. Actually I’m not sure video would be of value as Dream Theater always play their music note-perfectly, just like in the studio.

The Astonishing

The band had already released a concept album before, Metropolis Part 2, but this time it’s been a bit different, pretending to be a full-blown rock opera. The complete synopsis is available on their website, and in a nutshell it goes as follows.

In the XXIII century the Great Northern Empire of the Americas is ruled by Emperor Nafaryus, which happens to own an army of NOMACS (Noise Machines). Those represent the only entertainment available for the people in the Empire for there is no other music any more.

The NOMAC. Source: dreamtheater.net.
The NOMAC. Source: dreamtheater.net.

So the life goes its ordinary course, NOMACS make noise, the people suffer, the Emperor rules, until one day the latter hears a rumour about a musician in the distant village of Ravenskill called Gabriel, who is capable of playing real music! Nafaryus gets curious (which is quite dangerous for emperors as we know from the history), so he books a ticket for a FLYGIZ (Flying Gizmo) at once and travels to Ravenskill. His daughter Faythe follows him (out of curiosity as well) and of course falls in love with the musician at the first sight of him.

The characters of The Astonishing.
The characters of The Astonishing.

The Emperor is a true villain so he doesn’t give a damn about his daughter’s feelings and orders the people of Ravenskill to deliver the bastard to him. However the latter is not so eager to get delivered and that makes things really complicated. After a few dramatic episodes including chase, treachery and lightsaber sword fight the Good defeats the Evil, villains are dead, love is triumphant, survivors friend each other on Facebook and Instagram and live happily ever after.

The plot is expectedly far from being original: the dystopian future, the bad guys, the good guys, love and, eventually, a happy end. The synopsis reminds of a dozen of other films at once, such as The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wars. The same holds for the animation created for The Astonishing, and there’s a problem there.

During the show I couldn’t help feeling I was watching yet another fantasy film, only with a soundtrack by Dream Theater. The feeling was aggravated by the fact the audience was seated. And I didn’t like that. Furthermore, we love Dream Theater, as opposed to, say, Nightwish, not for the visual effects or an intricate plot, but for the MUSIC. And in that regard I think The Astonishing is simply weak, especially when it comes to melodic parts.

It might be the factor of age or being short of ideas. On the other hand, we all know Dream Theater’s works have been very different throughout its history, so it’s very well possible the next one will be a jewel again.

I’ve been bold enough to make a couple of more photos right after the last song—everyone grabbed their mobiles at once to take pictures so the security had no chance.

The guitarist John Petrucci:

Dream Theater in Carré. John Petrucci.
Dream Theater in Carré. John Petrucci.

I was sitting in the second row, literally two metres away from Petrucci. Neither him nor the rest of the band looked too emotional about the gig; only the singer James LaBrie humbly asked the crowd a couple of times if we liked it.

And finally the most scandalous: the drummer Mike Mangini is taking photos with his mobile while the security is turning a blind eye to it! Isn’t it double standards?

Dream Theater in Carré. Mike Mangini takes a photo.
Dream Theater in Carré. Mike Mangini takes a photo.
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