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Dream Theater/Pain of Salvation - December 7, 2009 - The Palais Theatre, Melbourne, AUS

By: Sharon Brookes

DT brings the "wank" Down Under...arena-style

Having to make the journey to the Palais by 7:30 on a Monday night was a tough call, but I was assured that seeing Pain of Salvation was worth the traffic jam, road works and lack of parking. They were into their set by the time I was seated, and I wondered whether the echo I could hear was due to poor acoustics or the fact that I was sitting only three rows back from the speakers. Fortunately as the venue filled, the sound stopped bouncing around the walls, and we could hear Daniel Gildenlow’s magnificent voice with the clarity it so deserved.

The progressive metal riffs held something for even those with the shortest concentration spans, as staccato guitar sounds blended into classical melodies and then into pounding beats so typical of the heavy metal genre. Like the name “Pain of Salvation” suggests, the music is polarized in parts. To fully appreciate life we must experience both darkness and light, and the more intense one experience is, the more intense its equal and opposite experience. In direct comparison, this band’s music takes us on a journey between calmness and heaviness that is made more extreme by the contrast.

P.O.S. have been around for a good while, releasing a demo in ‘96 called Hereafter, and nine full albums since then, including an original stage production. Each album has a concept with a conscience, which definitely makes this metal for the thinking person. The stage had been set more than well for the appearance of Dream Theater, and I heard one punter say “I give them 11 out of 10,” which seemed to be the consensus.

The Palais was definitely abuzz: the audience fully wound up and willing to part with their “readies” at the merchandise stand. The punters do Dream Theater t’s so well, though I’ve not seen one bobbing around on the torso of any fan at my local shopping centre. Do they go into storage after the gig, ready for the next tour?

Back in my seat in preparedness for the main event, I took the opportunity to look around. Dream Theater definitely has a full spectrum of fans…some not born when the band formed more than 20 years ago, and others who have probably been listening for all that time. When the lights went down, a roar filled the venue, and in true theatrical fashion the curtain lifted to reveal James, the two Johns, Mike and Jordan, fully posed and ready to treat us to three hours of superb storytelling.

It took me a while to “get” the music. I’m not one who usually listens intently to 16 or 20-minute songs because I have the attention span of a gnat (sorry to all the gnats out there), and to my ears the change of rhythm and genre within songs was at first very random…but then it clicked. These songs are a tapestry (as my friend so aptly described them), and like in a dream the scenes that flash before us come together to make a story or composition. In retrospect we may ask ‘Hell, what did that all mean?’ Either the scenes all come together and make sense or they don’t… dreams are like that.

We heard some brilliant guitar solos that reminded us of Joe Satriani, and a progressive/jazz/classical keyboard solo by Rudess, the likes of which I’ve never heard before. I’m still reeling. How the….did he stitch that together? I came away thinking I’d seen an art house movie, with the layers of each musical piece baffling and intriguing me in equal measure. I’ve never had that experience before at a metal gig. I usually leave a little deafer rather than a little wiser; and this is the highest compliment I can give to any band…I am a Dream Theater convert.


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