Dream Theatre at the Hammersmith Apollo, London - live review

Prog metal behemoths bedazzle the capital

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Dream Theater don’t need an overblown production. The complexity of their sound more than makes up for the absence of pyro or a full-on light show, and as they begin the first half of their set – a combination of post-millennium tracks like The Dark Eternal Night, The Bigger Picture and The Gift Of Music – the competing motifs from John Petrucci’s virtuoso riffs and Jordan Rudess’s keyboard noodling hold the audience enraptured. James LaBrie’s voice struggles at times to reach the highest notes, but the effortlessness with which the band switch time signatures and keys means the focus is on how remarkably well they work together, rather than where any individuals fall down. In Act Two they power through Images And Words’ journey of emotion, from Pull Me Under’s aggression to Wait For Sleep’s melancholy ruminations. James’s voice soars to triumphantly hit the notes that had eluded him previously, and despite the instrumental interludes that nearly every song descends into, Dream Theater are impressive and accessible to watch by virtue of the stirring melodies they pack into every song. An encore of A Change Of Seasons in full ensures this is no ordinary rock show, but a three-act opus that rides the highs of their most memorable material.