Dream Theater at Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center , 12/4/11

Categories: Last Night

Maria Vassett
Dream Theater
Ikeda Theater at Mesa Arts Center
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Loyal fans talk about Dream Theater's live show in hushed, reverential tones. I'd never experienced the band live before last night, but years of hearing fans rave about the prog-rock theatrics of the long-running group set my expectations high. Mesa Arts Center's Ikeda Theater made for an intimate venue, and my conversation with Jordan Rudess last week had me curious how things would work out with new drummer Mike Mangini behind the kit.

Throughout the set, the bands songs sounded like I was hearing them from the album, which always amazes me when it happens. There was a core of fans front and center that went nuts all night long, but the rest of the crowd occasionally needed some encouragement. Intricate lighting shows complimented each song on the long-winded set list, and according to the middle-aged burly man next to me, Dream Theater usually doesn't get on stage with more than their instruments.

Maria Vassett
The true buzz of the show was getting to see Mangini, up close and live. The crowd bantered about the band's latest, Grammy-nominated album, and whether Mike Mangini could really step into Mike Portnoy's shoes on stage.

As a heavy metal lover, sometimes it's nice to have that frenetic energy and powerful mosh pits; but with bands like Dream Theater who have been around for decades, the fan base ranges from young to old, and people are truly just there to enjoy the music and aren't preoccupied with going nuts.

Frontman James LaBrie stepped it up, keeping the crowd going and interacting with Mangini enthusiastically. The band had an overall respect for each other that was palpable with all smiles, and it transferred to the crowd. A long drum solo halfway through the set seemed to solidify to the fans around me that Mangini was indeed a good fit for Dream Theater. Mangini's drum kit is a little bit unorthodox; forgoing the usual left to right, light to big tom setup. Instead, it starts with the smallest tom in the middle, surrounded by a snare on top and bigger toms on the side. It doesn't change his sound but gives him accessibility to really showcase his talent.

Maria Vassett

Songs ranged from lots of fan favorites to several from the new album, A Dramatic Turn of Events. Now, I know that over the several years Dream Theater has been together, they have attracted a bevy of different types of fans. But at this show, I could look to my left and see a somewhat hippy-ish guy, with a long beard and flannel, dancing. On my right, a metalhead wearing a Metallica T-shirt, covered in tattoos. I knew Dream Theater would sound huge, but the diversity of the audience pointed to the band's cross-genre appeal.

Set List:

Bridges in the Sky
These Walls
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
Endless Sacrifice
Drum Solo
The Ytse Jam
The Silent Man
Beneath the Surface
On The Backs of Angels
Through My Words
Fatal Tragedy
Breaking All Illusions
Under a Glass Moon

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Dream Theater at Mesa Arts Center

Personal Bias: I am a huge fans of drum solos, but hearing their new jam On The Backs of Angels was fantastic and the crowd went nuts.

The Crowd: A sea of hard rock, instrumental lovers, bobbing their heads and fist pumping metal horns.

Heard in the Crowd
: A guy in his 30s who looked around himself curiously besides exclaiming out loud to no one in particular, "Damn, Mangini is holding up really well!"

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Danielle Kosten
Danielle Kosten

This show was awesome! We enjoyed being right up to the stage near Myung and Jordan! Mangini was epic and phenomenal this was my first time seeing Mangini but my second time seeing DT!! Mangini really has become one with the Family. He was just awesome. We are big Portnoy fans here, we had run into him in NYC in Central Park one year, and then saw him when he was out here and still part of DT, when I was pregnant and my son kicked when he held his hand to my belly. But having Mangini puts just a tad bit more talent there for the band to work with. Although his style is also different it's beginning to grow on me. When we first bought the album I wasn't too sure if we would like it or if I would like it. But I'm proud to say I'm still a DT fan!

And our son, is too! He is only 16 months old and goes nuts for us to play WITHER (of all songs, we've tried to get him to listen to others) that when it's close to then end he freaks out wanting us to play it again!!


Sounds like you enjoyed the show as much as I did... and it was my first time too! Musicians don't get any better than Dream Theater (in my humble opinion)


Last night was truly incredible and your article sums that up well. You might want to add "Forsaken" to the set list. ;)


Mangini is a great drummer, he is perfect for DT. If you ever see him play with the band or one of hid clinics you are sure to be amazed at hid skills.

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