Dream Theater Deliver a Masterful Performance at The Wiltern

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Dream Theater brought their tour for the futuristic album, The Astonishing, to the Wiltern in Los Angeles. The band’s latest release, a 34 track double album set in 2285, came to life visually and sonically, as the band played the album in its entirety to a packed house. The band played in front of 5 interactive video screens which added a visual accompaniment to this dystopian concept album. The design, production, and performance of this show must be quite the undertaking, but the sensory rewards are much greater and a sheer delight for the fans in attendance.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Dream Theater, comprised of John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, John Myung, Mike Mangini, and James LaBrie are all masters of their craft. James LaBrie is a supremely talented vocalist, who’s voice seems to get stronger on each album. When performing live, there’s no doubt that he has the pipes and his performance on The Astonishing is a great example. Mike Mangini and John Myung are rhythmic powerhouses who were locked in the entire night. Myung, who plays a 6 string Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo bass, moved up and down the neck with great dexterity as he held down the low end. Mangini, almost octopus-like behind the kit, made use of every drum and cymbal, as he filled, rolled, and crashed through the band’s most challenging material to date. Jordan Rudess, a wizard behind his customized hydraulic keyboard stanchion, wowed the audience with his fleet fingered phrases as his keyboard rotated and tilted throughout the band’s extended set. John Petrucci, not only a highly technical guitarist who produced many jaw dropping fretboard fireworks, but was also the mastermind behind The Astonishing and it’s well thought out concept, characters, and locations. Petrucci, played a few of his signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitars through his new signature heads from Mesa Boogie and they sounded great together. I’m certain many a guitar player went home that night and started researching and plotting their next gear acquisitions…I know I did. 

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

There have been mixed reactions to the material and band’s direction on The Astonishing. Some have questioned the seemingly overly theatrical elements of the songs, while others, follow the band along the twist and turns of it’s musical journey. Having listened to the albums a handful of times, it comes across much heavier live, and deserves to be seen when the tour comes to your town. Any skeptics of this newest release will be pleased when they see this masterful performance play out as Petrucci envisioned.

Dream Theater @ The Wiltern


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Daily Gear Obsession: NAMM Edition Part 2

The obsession over the gear that I saw at last weekend’s NAMM show continues…

Here’s what I’m obsessing over today:

Dunlop Band of Gypsys Fuzz Face Mini – In keeping with the newer trend of mini pedals, this offering by Dunlop is one that I’m very interested in checking out. The larger, traditional sized version of this pedal was released toward the end of last year and is designed to give you the fuzz sounds of the Hendrix Band of Gypsys era of music. This is Dunlop’s fifth mini Fuzz Face pedal and the second relating to Jimi Hendrix.

Music Man Majesty Artisan Series – These are some gorgeous guitars! I am quite fond of the Majesty series that was released during the 2014 Winter NAMM. The Artisan Series, consisting of five new colors, gives an already colorful line of guitars some more exotic flavor. Colors like Marrone and Azzurro are very striking and complimentary to this line. All of the Artisan Series of guitars feature gold hardware. While I’m usually not a fan of gold hardware, butit works very well in accenting the colors of these guitars.

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Day 1: The AfterNAMMth

Today was a busy and tiring day. I clearly did not do enough pre-NAMM training in preparation for what was ahead. I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center shortly before 9 a.m. and waited somewhat patiently for the doors to open at 10. Once the doors opened, there was a mad dash of every other impatient person trying to find the first of their many booths of the day.

I checked out the Ibanez booth and saw the new Paul Stanley Iceman models they had on display. The cracked mirror one is so cool …and also so expensive. They also had three of the Joe Satriani Art Series models, which all looked very cool and very unique.

The people and products at Earthquaker Devices are really awesome. I had a chance to talk to a couple employees about their new pedals and am eager to try out a few. It’s a bonus when Andy Summers of The Police is checking out pedals right next to you.

I stopped by the Ernie Ball Music Man booth and was welcomed with a number of new colors for the John Petrucci Majesty Artisan Series. They also had a new JP15 model that features a sahara burst and a roasted neck. They were all very cool.

I went upstairs to check out the new Kramer Satchel signature Pacer guitar. This is a great looking guitar and has a very strong “hair metal” vibe.

The Fender booth was very crowded, but I was able to check out some of the offerings from the Fender Custom Shop. Wow, those master builders do not disappoint! I have included some images of their handy work and will post more when I get back tomorrow. I was also happy to see the updated Steve Harris Precision Bass. This new bass is white and features the graphic of his favorite team, West Ham United.

My next stop was the ESP booth which was filled with some crazy looking guitars. A few of the guitars I saw were more art piece than instrument and were priced out at $75,000! I was also impressed by the new Gary Holt signature series. Gary was previously with Schecter Guitars and this is his first signature line with ESP.

What’s better than a wall of Marshalls? Nothing. The Marshall display never disappoints. It’s a towering behemoth of sound and it looks so damn cool. In looking at my pictures from last year, I realized that I took the same shot this year, but from the other side.

A stack of Orange cabs was really sweet and I was impressed with the layout of their booth. They have a wide variety of products ranging from the aptly titled Rockerverb to the new Crush series of amps.

I also got to meet some fantastic musicians throughout the day. First was the great bass player, Marcus Miller, who was very gracious with his time and demoed a couple pedals at the Dunlop booth. Next was Devin Townsend, who is another nice guy that loves to talk gear. While waiting in line at the Music Man booth for John Petrucci, Uli Jon Roth walked by and I got a picture with him.

Warning: If you find yourself in Hall E of the Convention Center, do not walk to the end of the hall unless you’re a drummer or really love cymbals. The amount of noise and overall sonic chaos left me looking for the quickest way back up the escalator.

…also, if you’re ever walking next to Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynryd, make sure you don’t have a slice of Sbarro pizza, 2 breadsticks, and a Coke in your hand. It makes it really hard to approach them to say anything. I didn’t get a chance to meet them, but I did pay $10.25 for the above mentioned combo.


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