JUNE 28, 2003

I've seen all these bands before, but since they were all coming together, I had to see them again...

FATES WARNING – Unfortunately they only played for half an hour, but Fates Warning is a great band. I’ve seen them before, in Orlando with SAVATAGE, in a smaller venue, where they got to play a little longer. But still, they rocked nicely. They’re like the unsung heroes of “Progressive Metal”, which really is the genre, or sub-genre, really, of all the bands that performed last night. (Yeah, I’m writing this the next day…I was too tired last night after the show…)
I kinda wish Fates was a bigger band, but I dunno, I have a feeling they’re pretty happy where they are, with their die hard fans, and the well deserved respect of their peers.

DREAM THEATER – They came on next, although they and Queensryche are billed as co-headliners, and they alternate closing the show with them on different nights. I know I spoke very well about Dream Theater, the LAST TIME I SAW THEM, but now I am forced to do so again. They are just such an incredible band. It bugs me that they are not a household name because I dare say that there are few bands in any genre that can compete with them in terms of musicianship. They’re simply amazing. And the crazy thing is that I’m not even all that crazy about them over all. I mean, they rank pretty high on my list of FAVES, but I tend to like more aggressive fare. That’s not to say that DT doesn’t get aggressive at times. Master guitarist extraordinaire John Petrucci can hit you with some really cool, crunchy riffs, but they’re more about virtuosity than attitude…
In fact, Petrucci on guitar, John Myung on bass, and especially Mike Portnoy on the drums are easily the best there is at what they do. (Take that Woverine!)
I don’t mean to leave out singer Jamie Labrie, or their great keyboard player…their only changing position over the years…but I’m pretty sure it’s Jordan Rudess. These are great performers as well, but I’m just blown away by Petrucci, Myung, and Portnoy.
Mike Portnoy…what a treat to watch. You know Animal, from The Muppets?
Well, Portnoy is Animal, but with brains and a whole hell of a lotta talent. A lot of talent. Scary talent. His drum set is this huge, three bass drum monster that looks like it takes NASA scientists hours to put together. But he has a personality that seeps out from behind that kit, and like Tommy Lee in Motley Crue (don’t laugh, over all Crue was semi-weak, but Lee IS a great drummer) and Lars from Metallica, he’s a very important part of the show.
Dream Theater played for about an hour and a half. And although I didn’t know all the songs (I still don’t have their latest CD…D’oh!), they kicked ass!

QUEENSRYCHE – OK, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. See, even though I saw them PRETTY RECENTLY, I haven’t been huge on Queesnryche since 1990.
From ’83 to ’90, they kicked my ass nicely, especially with 1988’s seminal Operation:Mindcrime.
But nowadays they hardly acknowledged that time, and in their short set last night, they only played two cuts from 1990’s Empire, they’re biggest commercial success, and two from Mindcrime, without a doubt, they’re biggest professional success. Singer and head honcho Geoff Tate, once one of the best voices in all Hard Rock / Metal, can still belt it out, but in a slightly more subdued manner.
And I don’t think the band has ever really recovered from the loss of guitar great Chris DeGarmo. The other original guitarist, Michael Wilton, is still there, and he’s great, but I couldn’t even tell you who the other guy was… Sorry.

But then a great thing happened. After a surprisingly short set, Queensryche left the stage…but then came back on stage, along with Dream Theater, and both band jammed on a long version of The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again. Queensryche’s drummer, Scott Rockenfeld, is a really great dummer, and it was really great to see him and Mike Portnoy go back and forth on some tasty drum fills. Two of the best going at it…Portnoy’s crazy antics, paired with Rockenfeld’s Neil Peart-like composed intensity. It was the stuff of dreams.
Gotta love it…