Grammy-winning progressive metal legends Dream Theater are no strangers to Israel. Having previously appeared here in 2009, 2011, 2017 and 2019, the band is kicking off its 2023 world tour to showcase their newest album, A View from the Top of the World, at Hangar 11 in Tel Aviv, on January 14.
“It’s all about coordinating what’s available and where it makes sense for us to be at any particular point in time... it just so happened that we wanted to start this tour sometime mid-January and it just fell into place that Tel Aviv made sense to begin this next leg of the tour,” said vocalist James LaBrie in a recent phone interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“It’s all about coordinating what’s available and where it makes sense for us to be at any particular point in time... it just so happened that we wanted to start this tour sometime mid-January and it just fell into place that Tel Aviv made sense to begin this next leg of the tour.”James LaBrie
LaBrie is the longest-serving vocalist of the band, which was formed in 1985 at Boston’s Berklee College of Music by guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy. Petrucci and Myung are still band mainstays, aided by longtime members, Mike Mangini on drums and Jordan Rudess on keyboards.
Dream Theater: Progressive music icons
Known for their varied, melodic sound and possessing great mastery over their instruments, Dream Theater has established itself as one of the most iconic bands in progressive music, with a loyal following around the world and upwards of 15 million albums sold. They take the kind of style heard in bands like King Crimson, Yes and Supertramp, and combine it with a heavier, more complex sound, all while adding their own creative touches.
After so many years on the road and in the recording studio, as well as having endured numerous injuries to his vocal cords, LaBrie said that there is still nothing he would rather be doing than fronting Dream Theater.
“I think for each and every one of us, it’s because we still love what we do. I think if that’s not present and that’s not your inspiration or your motivation, then it’s just a farce, it’s falsehood. At that point, I think anyone would or should seriously consider calling it quits. If you don’t have the passion for something, why are you doing it?” he said.
“I guess for some, it would be a matter of economics. You have to be engaged in what it is that you’re doing or I think people can see through it. I think anybody can see through whether someone is being genuine, sincere or insincere. I guess that’s what motivates and keeps us all doing what we’re doing 30 years into our careers. It’s because we love what we do.”
SINCE JOINING the band in 1991, LaBrie has seen many changes in the music business over the years, some positive and others not. Yet he is optimistic that the era of touring bands is not going to disappear.
“Well, I’m hopeful when I look at young bands. For example, my son is in a band called Falset and these guys are really young and they’re extremely talented. That’s where I see stuff that makes me hopeful. There are a lot of young bands coming up that are quite talented, both individually and collectively, in what they can create,” he said.
“The downside that I see is that because everybody – everyone and their mother and father – has a platform that they can put music on. It’s saturated beyond comprehension. There’s so much stuff out there and if we could trim the fat, so to speak, which is not good music, then maybe there could be a little bit more attention and rightful success or appreciation for the bands that deserve it.”
Dream Theater sets the notion that metal is a genre lacking in any talent, complexity or thought on its ear. The highly-trained musicians put on an exhibition of musicianship at every show. But LaBrie is the first to admit that their music is not for everyone. When asked to suggest an album for a newcomer, he said, “that’s a tall order. If I had to pick an album, maybe (1999’s) Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. I think I’d point them toward that.
If they wanted to hear what has basically always been considered our quintessential release, then I’d say go to (1992’s) Images and Words, this was when we were all very young and it really put us on the map globally. Here’s the thing, though, I could say those two albums but to me, some of the most spectacular showings of Dream Theater have been in an album like (2002’s) Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, (2005’s) Octavarium or (2011’s) A Dramatic Turn of Events.
In every album, there’s something that peels back another layer of what Dream Theater is because it’s multi-faceted. It’s not a one-dimensional ride and so to really wrap your head around who and what we are and what we evolved into the present day, there are so many dimensions to it all... it’s very difficult to articulate it all down to one album.”
This is why when they return to Israel this weekend, fans will get a well-rounded helping of the band’s forte. When the Post reviewed their 2019 show at LivePark Rishon, reviewer David Dimolfetta enthusiastically wrote, “One thing’s for sure: Israel will be sure to welcome back Dream Theater with open arms when the band comes again.”
That prophecy will play out this weekend in Tel Aviv.