CONCERT REVIEW [PREVIEW]: Dream Theater at the Forum Karlín, Prague, CZ

When Dream Theater announced that they were beginning a special tour to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their second album Images and Words, my first reaction (aside from figuratively running online to buy tickets) was to wonder at the fact that Dream Theater has released albums older than I am, and are still going pretty strong. While the last truly excellent album they released was 2003’s Train of Thought, 2005’s Octavarium was relatively strong (though overly-reliant on music theory geekery), and 2011’s A Dramatic Turn of Events had some interesting sonic (if not lyrical) moments. I had first begun listening to Dream Theater during my junior year of high school, where 1999’s Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory and 1992’s Images and Words quickly piqued my fascination and launched a minor obsession with the band, culminating in my hunting down the rare Falling Into Infinity (1997) demo sessions in the winter of my junior year of college. To this day, I will insist that the transition from “Goodnight Kiss” to “Solitary Shell” from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2001) is one of the best pieces of music ever written. 
 Yet it seemed that I largely came to the band too late to really revel in their peak—founding member and drummer virtuoso Mike Portnoy had been long gone, and the most recent albums had been 2007’s Systematic Chaos and 2009’s Black Clouds and Silver Linings, both of which linger at the bottom of my Dream Theater discography rankings. A Dramatic Turn of Events, which came out after I became a fan and featured the work of new drummer Mike Mangini, was more of a relief than anything particularly earth-shattering on the level of their earlier work, and their subsequent albums Dream Theater (2013) and The Astonishing (2016) failed to impress or even intrigue me much. I did have the opportunity to see them live in 2011 during their tour for Turn of Events, but since the last few albums of theirs never really resonated with me, the setlist likewise didn’t make an impression. (I actually had to go back through my ancient Facebook notes to even remind myself what they had played that evening in Los Angeles.) When the band announced that for their Astonishing tour, their setlist would consist solely of that album, my interest in seeing them was quashed. Yet when news of the “Images, Words & Beyond” tour dropped, I knew I had to find a way to see them play, because to this day Images and Words is still a fantastically and thoroughly enjoyable set of songs, including personal favorites such as “Under a Glass Moon,” and “Take the Time.” Most of the songs on Images and Words had not been played live in years, adding to the novelty of it all, and ultimately leading to me buying tickets to a February concert in mid-November. 
You can check out the rest of this review on PopMatters!

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