Dream Theater @ The House of Blues, Hollywood CA 05/18/98

Like I had written in the San Francisco write up, fellow mp.com forumer dbfield and I made the trek to Hollywood for our second Touring Into Infinity gig just two days after the Maritime Hall show. We were more or less recovered from that gig and pumped about seeing Dream Theater a second time this tour. We arrived early (very early) and miffed some of the club personnel in the process. We ventured into the club before the official opening time and we were politely asked to leave. After a lengthy wait, the early birds were allowed inside and we grabbed ourselves front row spots against the barrier, between what would be the positions for James Labrie (voc) and John Petrucci (gtr).

The club gradually filled up. For those who don’t know, the House of Blues is a chain of intimate yet stylish clubs with capacities of 1000 or so. There’s a southern delta vibe to the place and the decor and color scheme are very fitting. It’s a warm color scheme, lots of orange, yellow and red. We bullshitted with the security personnel for a bit, they were nice enough and didn’t have a problem chatting with the fans. These guys were friggin huuuuge. Each one of them was easily 6’2” and above and they must have weighed in at 250+ a piece. Dbfield asked “so do guys have to work out, keep in shape for the job?” The big Samoan looking bouncer said “well I do a lot of lifts…” and he does this motion as if he’s eating, err, shoveling food in his mouth lol.

We chatted a bit with a guy that was also at the San Francisco show, he was the guy that looked like Petrucci. We asked his thoughts about the San Franciscan crowd. He said “ohh the San Francisco crowd was terrible!” Referring to the rough nature of the crowd. We chatted with a few other people and enjoyed the camaraderie. Openers Full on the Mouth took the stage and were met with polite applause. After a song, someone from the crowd gave a spirited (or mocking, depending on your perspective) “FUCK YAAAAA!” Their singer grinned and said “we got a ‘fuck ya’!” After their set, the house lights went dark again and AIC’s “Rooster” played on the PA system. Just like the Maritime Hall gig, a giant sing-along ensued with everyone emphasizing the “no we ain’t gonna diiiiiiiiiiiie” portion.

The show begins and Derek Shirinian is easing into the distorted keyboard intro to “Lines in the Sand.” It was very cool that the band was using a different opener compared to the Maritime Hall show. Derek did his thing and the rest of the group took their places in time for the crushing downbeat. The show got off to a great start and the momentum kept building and building. “Burning My Soul” was next and the metallic onslaught continued. Next was a crowd favorite, “Take the Time,” which included lead vocals by drummer Mike Portnoy on the first verse, much to our surprise. James picked up the vocals right at the “…I think it’s time for a “CHAAAAAAAAAAAAANGE” part, whew what’s that guy’s lung capacity? The ending of “Take the Time” showcased a lengthy jam that included some great teasers including Skynyrd’s Free Bird, Deep Purple’s Child in Time, Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher, and Zeppelin’s Moby Dick. It was at that point that the somewhat subdued crowed went freakin’ bananas.

The set slowed down for the newer ballads, “Anna Lee” and “Speak To Me.” Keep in mind this was 1998 and file sharing and internet downloads were in its infancy. “Speak To Me” was an outtake from the Falling Into Infinity sessions and was heard only by a few die-hard fans that had either heard the track via the net, or had a copy of the Japanese edition of Falling Into Infinity with two bonus tracks not found on the American edition. Even though Speak To Me was quite unknown, while James introduced the song a number of fans knew what was coming and shouted out for “Speak to Meeeeee!” That track is great, very U2-like, and it’s a shame it was left off the official release. Again, a small drum kit was set up toward the front of the stage, right up against the front rows. I looked up and there was Mike Portnoy, drumming along only a few feet away from me. I was ecstatic. Portnoy looked over at me and grinned. No words can describe that moment.

After the lovely breather of the Falling Into Infinity ballads, the metal continued with “A Crack in the Mirror/Puppies on Acid,” which is basically the first portion of “The Mirror” off the Awake CD, with a keyboard intro and jam. This track gelled into the rocking “Just Let Me Breathe” followed by the crunching groove of “Lie.” The crowd got into it, belting out the “Doooon’t tellll meeeee, you thought of meeeee” part. I looked over at one of the bouncers, black guy with a stoic look. His arms were crossed and he too was moving along to the groove while he surveyed the crowd, There were points during the song that James would walk from one end of the stage to the other, the base of his mic stand nearly whacking the security personnel in their heads. One bouncer came close to getting his skull thumped, ducking just in time as Labrie marched across the stage. “Peruvian Skies” and John Petrucci’s guitar solo followed, earning deafening applause from the crowd. Petrucci’s wizadry on the instrument blew us away.

“Pull Me Under” was next and featured a surprise guest. Ray Alder from Fates Warning came onstage and helped James with the choruses. This was too cool, seeing the front man of one of pioneering prog metal bands join Dream Theater for a song. Much to my delight, “Scarred” off of Awake came next. I was going nuts. This was my favorite track at the time and it wasn’t performed at the Maritime Hall gig. It was beyond cool to hear it performed at this show. The group then tore into “ACOS pt. IV” which led to the immortal “Ytse Jam” which got the crowd pumped. This was the perfect segue into Portnoy’s drum solo. After some solo work on the kit, Portnoy came down to the front of the stage and a crew member handed him a tom and an extra pair of sticks. Just as he did at the Maritime Hall gig, Portnoy invited a fan onstage to solo along with him. A second fan was called up and both did very well. Seeing these guys have the time of their lives, drumming along with their favorite drummer was surreal. The coolest part of the solo was near the end. While the fan pounded out a jungle rhythm on the tom-tom, someone in the audience held out a glass bottle (I’m assuming it was a bottle, although I couldn’t see it). This kid played a last round of 16th notes on the tom and transitioned to the bottle. You could hear the thumpthumpthumpthump of the tom, then the clinkclinkclinkclink of the bottle before it shattered. The entire crowd let out this gasp: “WHHOOOOAAAAA!” After some laughter and applause, Portnoy got on the mic and thanked the two fans for helping out on the drum solo. Mike then said “and thanks to the security guards for being good sports,” referring to the bouncer that almost lost an eye due to the shattering glass.

The show continued with the closer of the main set, “New Millennium,” not my favorite track off Falling Into Infinity, but we witnessed the great John Myung play the Chapman Stick on it. The band then proceeded with the encore section. To my surprise, the band launched into a Deep Purple song, “Perfect Strangers.” However the twist of the night was another special guest vocalist. James introduced Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and the crowd went crazy. Bruce added his voice to the song, singing the majority of it while James supported. At the end of the track, the band tore into “The Trooper.” You could tell this was not rehearsed, as Bruce could be seen cracking up, he was practically doubled over in laughter, and he appeared genuinely surprised. Bruce said what the hell and sang the song with ferocity. The crowd lapped it up, sang along and gave a thunderous applause at song’s end. The band further surprised Dickinson by playing snippets of “Where Eagles Dare” and “Killers.” Dickinson was having a ball, and said something along the lines of “we would play bloody well all night if we could but they’re gonna pull the plug on us.” Bruce exited the stage and Dream Theater continued with the final encore section which was the same medley played at the Maritime Hall gig.

What a show. We were definitely a part of history. Later on we would read on the Ytse Jam Digest (before DT had an official webpage or online forum) that this House of Blues show was THE show to attend this tour. We drove back to Porterville that same night and Dbfield kept drumming on my dashboard. We were so pumped. Years later this show would be released as a live CD. Dream Theater has it’s own line of “official bootlegs,” and this show was preserved. I’ve got a copy and it’s amazing to hear that performance over and over, like some kind of echo in time. I relive this show and think of how I was first introduced to this group and how because of Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater, I picked up the phone and ordered my first drum kit. The rest as they say, is history.

Lines in the Sand
Burning My Soul
Take the Time/Free Bird/Child In Time/Hot For Teacher/Moby Dick
Anna Lee
Speak to Me
A Crack in the Mirror / Puppies on Acid
Just Let Me Breathe
Peruvian Skies
Pull Me Under
A Change of Seasons: IV The Darkest of Winters
The Ytse Jam
(with drum solo)
New Millennium
Perfect Strangers
The Trooper
Where Eagles Dare
Encore 2:
Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper
Learning to Live
A Change of Seasons: VII The Crimson Sunset


cover of the official bootleg release. you can spot my friend and I in a photo in the CD booklet!


Posted on October 9, 2012, in Concerts: 1998-2004, Dream Theater and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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