Dream Theater, Arion @ Tilburg 12/2/2023


Second European leg for the ‘Top of the World’ tour, which brought Dream Theater back to some of the same countries that they hit the first time around. You see demand for the band remains robust, even growing, first of all because the latest albums are good (especially the last one, but ‘Distance Over Time’ as well), and secondly because people know what to expect, regardless of the setlist: a satisfying musical feast.

In Tilburg, Finnish power metallers Arion played about a half an hour before the main act. Good players, decent communication with the crowd, but their style isn’t really my thing – they would have been a better fit opening for Sabaton in my opinion. Give their single ‘At the Break of Dawn’ a listen if you want to have an idea.

‘The Alien’, the opening track off ‘A View from the Top of the World’, managed to sum up the rest of the night: crystal clear sound and impeccable musicianship from a perfectionist war machine of a band. AVFTTOTW took the setlist’s lion share, as it should, with four tracks. On the songs off ‘Awake’ (‘6:00’ and ‘Caught in a Web’) Petrucci’s guitar tone made you think that there were at least three guitar players playing the parts at once, ‘Bridges in the Sky’ from the wonderful ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’ is a personal favorite, while the excerpts from ‘Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence’ made me want to re-listen to the whole record. When a band has such a rich discography and the music demands tens of listens for one to be able to ‘learn’ the material, twenty-year-old albums manage to still sound fresh.

The finale? A double dose of epic proportions, with two monsters, the latest album’s title track and ‘The Count of Tuscany’. What can I say? It would be ungracious for me to point out that last year they also somehow managed to fit in ‘The Ministry of Lost Souls’. I will say that I cannot think of forty minutes of music in a live setting with more melodies, changes, such density of ideas, than this one, on a Sunday winter night in the Netherlands.

Romanos Terzis

*photos from Dream Theater fans from various European shows

Setlist: The Alien, 6:00, Sleeping Giant, Bridges in the Sky, Caught in a Web, Answering the Call, Solitary Shell, About to Crash (reprise), Losing Time/Grand Finale, Pull Me Under, A View from the Top of the World

Encore: The Count of Tuscany