Dream Theater lead vocalist James LaBrie, hot on the release of his solo CD Elements of Persuasion, kicked off his 2005 tour with a few dates in the New York City area. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo was at The Chance show in Poughkeepsie, while Ken Pierce was in attendance at The Downtown in Farmingdale.
They both report in with coverage of the two shows!
The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY
James LaBrie and his hot young band stormed into The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY on Friday night April the 15th, the first time the singer has performed at the venue since Dream Theater packed the club back in late 1998. While this night wasn't nearly a sell-out, the few hundred who did make it to the show were very into it from the opening notes.
Opening up the show was Sentinel, a competent yet generic metal band that has some chops, but needs some songwriting skills to go along with their brand of early Fates Warning influenced sound. Sentinel were followed by Sonic Lords, a strange band that combined stoner rock, punk, and early 80's metal, and their set was sorely out of place among the progressive metal faithful. This group of metal bikers had a sound that borrowed from Motorhead, the Misfits, Ramones, SOD, and early Metallica, yet with songs like "More Beer", were better suited for a fraternity beer bash than opening for James LaBrie.
At just around 11:00PM LaBrie and his young band hit the stage to a huge ovation from the intimate crowd. His touring band includes respected keyboardist Matt Guillory (Dali's Dilemma, Zero Hour, Mullmuzzler) and guitarist Marco Sfogli, both of whom appear on Elements of Persuasion, as well as bassist Andy DeLuca (Aghora, Symphony X) and drummer John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ark). These guys were as tight as a band who have been together for years, and the young Italian guitar monster Sfogli traded blazing licks with Guillory on many occasions as well as laid down some memorable and melodic solos. LaBrie was in fine voice all night, as he covered the majority of the new CD as well as many Mullmuzzler classics. It did seem that the crowd was more familiar with and more into the material from the new album, as it is heavier than the Mullmuzzler repertoire, and perhaps closer what Dream Theater has been doing on their last few albums in terms of heaviness. Led by the chunky guitar work of Sfogli and the intricate rhythms of Macaluso and DeLuca, the new material worked well live, with the keyboards of Guillory always present either adding color, texture, or instrumental flash. The set was a full two hours, and included a few encores. While I'm sure that James would have liked to have had larger crowds at the three New York area shows, the band played and sounded great, and the audiences were certainly receptive, both of which are good signs for the upcoming European tour.
Confronting The Devil
Slightly Out Of Reach
Shores Of Avalon
A Simple Man
In Too Deep
The Downtown in Farmingdale, NY
When it was announced that James LaBrie (lead singer for Dream Theater) would be performing for his throng of fans for only three area shows I felt this was the chance to be part of something very special. The East Coast would be where all of this would take place and the venues selected were The Chance, The Starland Ballroom and The Downtown. I attended the Downtown show and the crowd was maxed out at about 200 people. Not a bad night for the room, yet I expected just a little more in terms of attendance. When I discovered that LaBrie had posted his complete set list before the shows for all the fans to see and not one Dream Theater song would be performed, I instantly discounted the amount of Theater fans who are primarily interested in the technical abilities of the band more than they are in the vocal prowess. On reviewing that list, LaBrie would be performing music from his latest release on InsideOut Music entitled Elements Of Persuasion as well as many selections from his Mullmuzzler releases. This new CD would be played in pretty much its entirety with the exception of the track "Smashed". Onstage LaBrie even joked at how this was the final night on his big 3 night tour, and teasing by saying well there are only three clubs worth playing in the USA anyway. With this recent recording LaBrie has achieved a very close partner to his existing work in Dream Theater. The piece is very adept musically and interesting I think the DT fans would have enjoyed this effort more than his previous endeavors. In a live setting he sings the same as on the CD and that's always a plus for the attendee. He also made sure to have a top notch touring lineup. I was extremely happy with watching drummer John Macaluso kick some ass on the drums. His solo and level of play throughout the night was beyond extraordinary. The other members of his band are Matt Guillory (keyboards) and Marco Sfogli (guitar) as well as Andy DeLuca (bass). The band was incredibly tight and some of them also appear on the new CD. Marco is an exceptional guitarist and there was a lot of visible camaraderie among the players as the set was done.
While LaBrie would surely give the crowd their moneys worth by performing for at least 2 hours I felt this was a little long to do without adding some more familiar material. You truly had to be an expert in his solo work because "EOP" had only just come out and if you attended and were unfamiliar you might have gotten a little bored. He did attract people from far away cities and it merits noting that when I stopped to speak with some of his fans that I met people from Chicago and Pennsylvania. This venue is over an hour trek for me, so I was impressed in meeting those that took more than twice that time to see him. I am not sure if LaBrie was impressed with the draw at the three shows, because he did not give sign to that during my show. It is my hope that he was in any case. The group would be heading to Europe for an additional round of shows and then return to the USA where he would work on the next Dream Theater album.
I enjoyed the night quite a bit, but as I mentioned I felt he would have been best served by playing a Dream Theater track or two. Even if he opted to try some of his work with Aryeon, it would have been a nice surprise to everyone.
4. Venice Burning
5. Confronting The Devil
6. Slightly Out Of Reach
11. Bass Solo
14. Shores Of Avalon
15. Drum Solo – John Macaluso
16. Save Me
18. A Simple Man
19. Stranger – encore
20. In Too Deep – encore
21. Invisible – encore