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The 10 Songs We NEED To Hear At Dream Theater's Upcoming 40th Anniversary Tour

Thursday, 11 April 2024 Written by Dan McHugh

It was a long time coming. On October 25, 2023, the moment that prog-metal heads the world over had been manifesting for more than a decade finally came to pass when drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy made his triumphant return to Dream Theater. 

While their massive fanbase immediately began salivating following confirmation that they were heading into the studio to begin working on album 16 — Portnoy’s first contribution since 2009’s ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ — the prospect of seeing one of the most renowned drummers in rock and metal reclaim his place behind his iconic, gargantuan kit at future live events loomed large.

Fortunately the quintet — completed by vocalist James LaBrie, bassist John Myung, guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess — soon checked back in with news of a sizeable European tour to mark their 40th anniversary. Kicking off with a huge London show at the O2 Arena on October 20 and concluding at AFAS Live in Amsterdam on November 24, it’s set to be a monumental affair.

With tickets on general sale at 9am BST/10am CET this Friday (April 12) we have taken the opportunity to let our imagination run wild, considering the 10 songs we want to see included in setlists that befit a career-spanning celebration. 

Ytse Jam

What better way to mark such a momentous occasion than by rolling out this masterful instrumental piece from their debut album ‘When Dream And Day Unite’? A track that immediately turned heads back in 1989, it has been a firm favourite throughout their  career. Whether standing proudly on its own or part of their stunning ‘Instrumedley’ performances it would be a hit with all in attendance.

Metropolis – Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper

A song that requires very little introduction. It has become a staple of their live sets and warrants inclusion for Myung’s incredible fretboard acrobatics alone. Packed with graceful melodies, sublime guitar solos and powerful falsetto hooks, this is one that should stay in the rotation.

Trial Of Tears

This 13 minute epic is segmented into three chapters, traversing  every facet of the prog-metal genre on its journey. An expansive masterclass packed with emotion, poignant storytelling and enthralling soundscapes, it’s also been gathering dust for a while. We could think of no better time to breathe life back into this classic.

The Glass Prison

Another sprawling showcase of instrumental proficiency and the first instalment of Portnoy’s famed Twelve Step Suite detailing his experiences with alcoholism. Bursting with energy and barrels of exhilarating musicianship this ‘Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence’ cut is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with multiple opportunities for audience participation.

War Inside My Head

From there, let’s look at something we know worked in the past. Also from the ‘Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence’ album a double-header of The Glass Prison and this track  set their landmark performance at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan Hall alight back in 2004. It’s still the perfect catalyst to send a crowd into a headbanging frenzy.

The Test That Stumped Them All

The sheer audacity of the intro sequence is enough to put this track up for consideration. Petrucci’s ridiculous levels of skill, combined with Portnoy’s brilliant backing vocals, will provide an instant highlight.

As I Am

This anthemic tale of rebellion is the perfect opportunity to inject some additional adrenaline into proceedings. Its explosive combination of gritty, cathartic lyrics mixed with punchy guitar hooks demands to be part of the conversation.

The Dark Eternal Night

A track with Portnoy’s signature swagger stamped all over it. From his groove-ridden  beats to his emphatic vocal delivery this track has sat on the shelf for way too long. Another glorious chance for the crowd to lend their voices to some undeniably catchy  prose. 

Panic Attack

Upon his return, Portnoy unveiled an in-depth interview and a set of performance playthroughs via Drumeo, and one of the tracks he reeled off with clinical precision was this staple of the ‘Octavarium’ era. A fiery bundle of mesmerising basslines, electric drum sequences and mind-bending keyboard-guitar duels, it has received comparisons to Muse and possesses all the hallmarks to bring the house down.

A Nightmare To Remember

Last but certainly not least is this 16-minute powerhouse from ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’, Portnoy’s last contribution to Dream Theater before departing and breaking everyone’s hearts all those years ago. From twisting and turning heaviness to serene melodic passages with some crushing blastbeats thrown in for good measure, this track is the total package. The haunting narrative, detailing a near-death event Petrucci experienced in his youth, provides an intense but immersive experience that unfolds alongside some of their best instrumental work to date. 

Dream Theater Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun October 20 2024 - LONDON O2 Arena
Tue October 22 2024 - BERLIN Uber Eats Music Hall (Germany)
Wed October 23 2024 - COLOGNE Palladium (Germany)
Fri October 25 2024 - MILAN Forum Di Milano (Italy)
Sat October 26 2024 - ROME Palazzo Dello Sport (Italy)
Mon October 28 2024 - MUNICH Zenith (Germany)
Tue October 29 2024 - ZAGREB Arena Zagreb (Croatia)
Fri November 01 2024 - BUDAPEST Budapest Arena (Hungary)
Sat November 02 2024 - PRAGUE Fortuna Arena (Czech Republic)
Sun November 03 2024 - LODZ Atlas Arena (Poland)
Wed November 06 2024 - HELSINKI Espoo Metro Areena (Finland)
Fri November 08 2024 - STOCKHOLM Waterfront Congress Centre (Sweden)
Sat November 09 2024 - OSLO Oslo Spektrum (Norway)
Sun November 10 2024 - COPENHAGEN Poolen (Denmark)
Tue November 12 2024 - ESCH SUR ALZETTE ROCKHAL (Luxembourg)
Wed November 13 2024 - ZURICH Hall (Switzerland)
Thu November 14 2024 - LYON Halle Tony Garnier (France)
Sat November 16 2024 - LISBON Meo Arena (Portugal)
Sun November 17 2024 - MADRID La Cubierta De Leganes (Spain)
Wed November 20 2024 - STUTTGART Beethovensaal (Germany)
Thu November 21 2024 - FRANKFURT Jahrhunderthalle (Germany)
Sat November 23 2024 - PARIS Adidas Arena (France)
Sun November 24 2024 - AMSTERDAM AFAS Live (Netherlands)

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