Monday, July 21, 2003

Three bands prog-rock the night away at Annie's


Concert review

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's only fitting that the progressive-metal show at Annie's Friday night became more and more prog with each passing hour.

The three-band line-up of Dream Theater, Queensryche and Fates Warning created an environment within the club's outdoor pavilion in which a guy wearing a Styx T-shirt could stand shoulder to shoulder with a guy in a Pantera T-shirt, because these two gentlemen of disparate tastes find common ground in the hybrid prog-metal sound.

There was a small buzz of confusion among the crowd of 2,900 as to why Queensryche, probably the biggest "name" band of the three groups, wasn't the headline act. It could be top billing was awarded to the most prog of the trio - Dream Theater.

The Annie's veterans dazzled the crowd with advanced music-school virtuosity spread across impossible time signatures. The band's ability and its compositions made Queensryche and Fates Warning come off like garage-band hacks.

That's not to say Dream Theater was the best of the three. That distinction would go to Queensryche, who's hour-plus set struck the finest balance between progressive noodling and hard-rock power and melody.

Fates Warning was also good. However, they began their set before the announced start time, and many ticket holders were lined up at the front doors as they played.

Dream Theater had moments within songs that rocked as hard as anything on the night. But those moments were usually nothing more than a brief passage in a 10 or 15-minute composition, as the five-man band overloaded songs with all sorts of showy trickiness.

Some "pieces" (they're prog-rockers - we're guessing they call their songs "pieces") resonated either in spite of or because of the noodling. "Pull Me Under," their set closer, was the finest moment of the nearly two-hour performance.

Queensryche had the better tunes ("tunes" are the opposite of "pieces"), and their set was packed with crowd favorites, including "Eyes of a Stranger," "Jet City Woman," "Queen of the Reich" and "Revolution Calling."

The best part of the show was Dream Theater's encore. Queensryche joined them, and the 10-man band did three songs, finishing with the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."

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E-mail cvarias@enquirer.com




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