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Dream Theater Leaves Stifel Theatre Crowd in Awe Following Performance Tuesday in Saint Louis

John Myung of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

 

–by Sean Derrick

 

Progressive metal masters Dream Theater made a stop in St. Louis Tuesday at Stifel Theatre and proved once again why they are regarded as the top of the prog metal hierarchy.

James LaBrie of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Dream Theater is touring in support of their latest LP A View from the Top of the World and was originally scheduled to play St. Louis December 4, 2021. However, due to the Omicron variant uptick the band pushed the tour back two months. The wait was worth it as the band showed again why they are constantly looked up to by other bands and musicians.

Mike Mangini of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

This was their third straight performance at the beautiful Stifel Theatre, but the first time Vocalist James LaBrie has been able to pronounce correctly (though the first time the venue was called Peabody Opera House). He even joked about being made aware of the unique pronunciation of the venue (pronounced STEE-fl) and reminisced about the difficulties of correctly pronouncing venues in Europe. (Don’t fret about it, James. More artists than not pronounce it wrong.) It was a fun acknowledgement that those who know appreciated.

Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Dream Theater opened with their first single form A View from the Top of the World in “The Alien”, and quickly followed by a dash to the past in “6:00”, from their 1994 album Awake.

John Petrucci of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Performing in front of a video screen made up of multiple white panels flanked by six rock faced tapestries (three on each side) Dream Theater (LaBrie, bassist John Myung, guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and drummer Mike Mangini) rolled through two hours of what have been some staples at Dream Theater shows, but are considered deep cuts in St. Louis.

James LaBrie of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

The band played ten songs altogether. And while four of the songs came from the newest release, another four of the remaining six came after 2004. Why is that significant? Bear with me: they regularly hit St. Louis for 12 years until an incident at The Pageant where a fan fell from the balcony (I still remember that vividly) may or may not have had an impact (no pun intended) on why they didn’t return to the Gateway City for another 12 years. When they did return in 2016 that tour featured only tracks from The Astonishing, while their last stop in 2019 featured primarily tracks from Distance Over Time and Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory in it’s entirety (save for “A Nightmare to Remember” and “In the Presence of Enemies, Part 1”. So, they haven’t really had a chance to play much of anything from the four albums between 2005 and 2013. Therefore, this was a special treat for St. Louis fans, almost like a deep cuts show for the fans here. 80% of the songs have never been played in St. Louis before.

Mike Mangini of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Dream Theater were at the top of their game (which is a normal show for them, as any regularly attending fan can attest) with the constant inundation of odd time signatures and arrangement variations that is typical of the Dream Theater sound.

James LaBrie of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

While the crowd (the smallest on what is otherwise near sellouts everywhere else) saw a tight set that immersed the senses in a dazzling display of technical prowess that is a joy to witness live, they saw what those who didn’t go missed out on. Real treats for me included hearing “The Count of Tuscany” and “About to Crash” (That wasn’t on their setlist when they played at Pop’s in 2002).

Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

One thing if for certain; seeing Dream Theater never gets stagnant. There is no way someone can ever say “Eh, I saw them X years ago that’s all I need to see”. Yeah, and no one has ever seen the majesty of one mountain and justifiably claims they have experienced the magnificence of all mountains. They are just cutting themselves short of the ethereal experience.

John Myung of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

After raving about local BBQ joint Salt+Smoke LaBrie claimed they will be touring for the next 18 months (not sure how true that is, but you never know) and vowed to return. I hope so, and I hope more fans wake up and realized what they missed. (I know more fans are out there, I have seen most of the shows here. They do exist. Hopefully they show up the next time.)

Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater performing at Stifel Theatre Tuesday. Photo by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography.

Arch Echo opened with an impressive set that left many fans scrambling to check out more of what they heard.

Be sure to check out the rest of the photo gallery below the setlist.

Dream Theater Setlist:

The Alien

6:00

Awaken the Master

Endless Sacrifice

Bridges in the Sky

Invisible Monster

About to Crash

The Ministry of Lost Souls

A View From the Top of the World

Encore:
The Count of Tuscany

 

4 thoughts on “Dream Theater Leaves Stifel Theatre Crowd in Awe Following Performance Tuesday in Saint Louis

  • Marshall Gralnick

    I feel this show needs to move to the pageant or factory next time. I’ve not enjoyed the sound the last 2 Stifel shows, but I’ve been lucky enough to be up front where the acoustics might be better in the middle of the huge space. Agree with all your other observations, but was attendance hurt by Covid Health Check requirements, postponement, weeknight or just lack of local radio airtime (not news)? Only a portion of the crowd stood prior to the encore. Looking forward to next time, maybe a 30th anniversary Awake tour? One can hope…

    Reply
    • Sean Derrick

      Hi Marshall, Thanks for commenting. I’d be up for a tour like that. \m/

      Reply
    • John Kruczek

      Can you tell me?: Where you sat in relation to the stsge? Were they at a decent volume? When I saw them from row 18 center for DOT, they were too damn loud! Many sound engineers really suck. If they had just cut the volume by 10%, it would have been enjoyable.

      Reply
      • Sean Derrick

        Hi John, thanks for commenting. I am not sure about Marshall, but for me at the show on Tuesday I was Row B center (about 5 rows back after you count the orchestra pit). For DOT I was about Row T stage left. Sound engineers have the daunting task of making the sound levels in every room sound top notch, especially if the room has multi levels. If they tone it down for the fans in the front then the fans at the back have a harder time hearing everything. If they boost it up for the fans in the very back then the fans up front think it is too loud. It is a very common problem that doesn’t have an easy or universal fix. Also, since each venue’s room is quite different from one stop to the next it is common for the sound to be attuned for the area right around the soundboard to have a constant sound. You were about 10 rows in front of the soundboard. So, from back there it very well could have sounded 5-10% less than what you experienced in your seat. Either way, from my experience over the decades I have found the best way to enjoy a concert, since I am regularly up-close photographing and then sitting in an area usually closer than the soundboard, is to wear ear plugs. Every single show. It actually helps bring the sound to a more enjoyable level, stops the cross talk from things like other fans close to me talking, and air distortion. Plus it stops my ears from getting more damaged than what they already are (I didn’t wear any protection for the first several years I attended concerts in the mid 1980’s, unfortunately, and now have tinnitus). There have been a few times when I didn’t get my ear plugs set in time before the show started, or I left my ear plugs in my pack backstage and I had to shoot the first three songs without and it was painful. Let me tell you that is something I try to make sure I don’t let happen again. haha.

        Reply

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