Concert Reviews

Dream Theater - Devin Townsend - Animals As Leaders
July 22nd 2023

Marymoor Park Live, Seattle, WA, USA

Decided to check out the Dreamsonic tour, which for a progressive metal show was a surprisingly short 4 hours. Although more on that later. First off, it was an outdoor popup venue in Marymoor park for a summer concert series, and was actually a great experience, they had real bathrooms, not just porta potties, a huge food truck selection, an amazing beer / wine. etc selection, and even the grass area had a great view of the stage. I know I'm getting old when a good beer selection and bathrooms are a super important part of the concert experience, but here I am.

The opener was Animals As Leaders. I love the band, but have never reviewed them on this site since I think their music skews a little more progressive than metal, they're right on the edge but this site skews a little heavier. But I have all their albums and love them dearly. I'd seen them maybe 6 years ago at a different venue, but could barely see them over the crowd, so glad this time I really SAW them. They did a 45 min set and played their classics like 'Physical Education' and 'CAFO', and then played a surprising selection from their new album. Surprising in that they didn't play the singles from the album, so no 'Monomyth', no 'The Problem of Other Minds', instead it was 'Micro-Aggressions', 'Gordian Naught', 'Red Miso', etc. All the songs were performed perfectly, including some variant parts where they went heavier or lighter to make sure they were enhancing and not just replicating the album experience. Apparently earlier in the week their guitar tech died suddenly for unspecified reasons after being elbowed in the face, just the first indication that maybe this tour is cursed :/

Next up was Devin Townsend who played material from his extensive solo album repertoire (are we up to 40 albums now?) A few songs off the new album, but mostly older stuff like 'Truth', 'Kingdom', and 'Bad Devil', which I had never heard live, the crowd really got into that one. Glad we also got 'By Your Command', where the crowd brought out assorted Ziltoid related items such as a painting and a Poozer face mask. Devin continues to be the best showman, tons of self deprecating humor and rants about silly ideas, it's part metal and part observational humor. And I have to say his voice seems to get better with age, such power, and not just in the screamed parts. Legend Mike Keneally was his second guitarist and keyboards, that guy can just do everything.

Finally Dream Theater took the stage at the beginning of the 3rd hour. Honestly I'd sorta lost interest in seeing them live after Mike Portnoy left. His replacement Mike Mangini is an amazing drummer, but Portnoy was just such a personality, in many ways I feel he was the front man of the band. Anyways, the first thing I noticed with bassist John Myung was sitting and had what appeared to be a large bandage on his head. Apparently the day before he recieved some sort of head trauma, and they were going to cancel the show, but John decided to be a trooper and play anyways. I am so thankful he did, but at the same time I hope he didn't put himself in danger for our sakes, head trauma is not something to trifle with. They played a few songs off their new album, then did some classics like 'Caught In A Web', 'Pull Me Under', and a large chunk of 'Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence' starting with 'Solitary Shell' and going till the end. The band overall was great, but I'm sorry to say that James' voice has really taken a hit, he brought a lot of stuff down an octave avoiding the high parts, and even in the regular parts there were a number of missed notes. Man, getting old sucks. They ended with 'The Count Of Tuscany' which is my favorite Dream Theater song, so that was awesome, such an epic tune that shows off everything the band has to offer.

Then they did 1 encore (I suspect their set may have been cut a bit short to allow John to recover from his head injury), the encore was 'The Spirit Carries On', and members of Devin's band and Tosin from Animals joined in. Hearing Devin sing a tiny bit of the song was amazing, I totally want to hear him do a cover of that whole song now. Overall a good concert, well worth the money. May John recover and the rest of the shows go without further incident!

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