Concert Review Archive

 

James LaBrie with Evergrey

April 30th, 2005
Mean Fiddler, London, UK

By
Charlie Farrell

Evergrey upstage Dream Theater man's solo project

Poster for the event

For some fans Dream Theater has become a bit of a Marketing machine that always appears to have some new product on offer. If it is not a new studio album then it is an official bootleg or an album from one of the band members' many side projects. I've long since passed the point where I could afford to keep up with it all and in that respect James Labrie's solo output has perhaps suffered more than that of some of the other band members as I don't own a single one of his solo albums. Though I had heard a song or two from his Mullmuzzler solo disks, my interest in the concert was first peaked by the very positive reviews that Elements of Persuasion has received along with the very interesting addition to the bill of Evergrey as the support band.

Of course, Evergrey, label mates of Mr Labrie at Inside Out, are no mean band themselves and their presence appeared to have played a major part in attracting a good proportion of the audience at the Mean Fiddler, which nevertheless, was still far from being sold out. Though this was only their second appearance on stage in the UK, many of the crowd appeared to already be familiar with their material and by the time that they went into She Speaks to the Dead, it was clear that the audience were more or less eating out of frontman Tom Englund's hands.

I'm Sorry allows the band to ease up a little on the pace, while Recreation Day sees the band stretching themselves a little. A further grandiose number A Touch of Blessing is sandwiched between two of the more aggressive, pacier numbers from 2001's In Search of Truth with the band whipping the audience into a frenzy with The Masterplan. After promises to sign autographs by the merchandising stand and generous thanks to the audience, the band quit the stage and the audience gets ready for the main event.

With a more than capable band of musicians including the excellent John Macaluso (Ark, TNT) on drums and Matt Guillory (Dali's Dilemma) on keys there was never any doubt that the music was going to be well performed, but from the very beginning it was striking just how much the overall sound matched that of modern day Dream Theater. A large part of this can be put down to guitarist Marco Sfogli who not only played a 7-string but had also developed an uncanny knack of sounding like the 7-string master Mr Petrucci himself. Bassist Andy DaLuca (ex-Symphony X) also did a fair John Myung impression but thankfully Matt Guillory with his several keyboards contrasted with Jordan Ruddess's simplistic set-up and John Maculuso's kit was positively minimalist compared to Mike Portion's current live configuration.

I didn't go along with the intention of comparing the band to Dream Theater and James' early declaration that there was no Dream Theater music to be performed during the evening made it clear to the fans from early on, what they were to expect. However, I couldn't help but make the comparison when the newer material evoked the sound of the Train of Thought era while the softer material from the two Mullmuzzler albums certainly recalled the era of Images and Words complete with James' screaming. Over the last few Dream Theater tours, he appears to have used his voice in a more controlled manner and his voice has remained in good shape throughout the lengthy tours, so I found it rather odd that so many of the songs required him to use that style of singing. With few song introductions and little interaction with the crowd I had more or less had enough after the first five of six songs, but the arrival of another cold beer in my hand persuaded me to stay for the remainder of the set.

Compared to Evergrey the set was very long and outside of the hardcore Dream Theater fans probably fairly unfamiliar to most. While one can understand James wanting to push his solo material, the absence of any song that the whole crowd was familiar with, did mean that there wasn't a single song that the whole audience was familiar with. A little bit of Surrounded or Another Day might have just broken the ice and allowed the audience to connect with the band on stage. As it was, the setlist was culled largely from Elements of Persuasion, which had only been released a few weeks prior to the gig, with one or two cuts from each of the two Mullmuzzler disks resulting in a good proportion of the audience heading from the exit door sometime before the end of the set. Great musicians undoubtedly but alongside the intensity of Evergrey, the music appeared rather passionless and hard-going for all but the uber-fan (or musician) in the audience.

Setlist
Evergrey:

Blinded
End Of Your Days
More Than Ever
She Speaks To The Dead
I'm Sorry
Recreation Day
Mark Of The Triangle
A Touch Of Blessing
The Masterplan


James LaBrie:

Crucify
Alone
Oblivious
Venice Burning
Confronting the Devil
Slightly Out of Reach
Undecided
Pretender
Falling
Drained
Lost
Listening
Shores of Avalon
Save Me
Freak
A Simple Man



Stranger
In Too Deep
Invisible

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