20th-anniversary, “Octavarium World Tour 2005/2006”

Bangkok, Muang Thong Thani, Thailand, January 25th, 2006
Impact Arena Exhibition and Convention Centre

Organized and sponsored by Overdrive magazine and Singha beer by 8 million THB (over 170,000 euros), it was the first time in Thailand for Dream Theater, who almost filled the Impact Arena by themselves, with a capacity of 12,000. Only a few seats stayed empty, and the huge crowd present seemed very dedicated to the band, making lots of noise throughout the show. Among the Thai-filled arena, a few dozens of European fans had also found their way to the arena. It was only a day before the show that a huge street add, few meters wide and high, caught our eyes while walking past the Victory Monument. This show was promoted well in Thailand and Impact Arena had more action going than many other arenas around the world. There were all kinds of booths with different merchandise, instrument and other presentations, competitions and whatnot. If you found your way there too early, you didn't get bored. You even had choices between restaurants, though nothing fancy, just typical fast food. And what a sight for sore eyes to see some finnish Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius band t-shirts around too.

For the Thai Dream Theater crowd a wide variety of merchandise was offered at the venue. The sold merchandise mostly concentrated on instruction DVD's by John Petrucci, Kiko Loureiro (Angra), Mike Portnoy, Steve Vai, Michael Angelo and the likes. The ticket prices varied from really cheap to really expensive. The floor was also covered with seats and one had to pay 60 euros to get down close to the band. Not many Thais can afford such prices and so all the seats weren't full. The cheapest tickets went with 12 euros. Before the show could begin, people had to pay respect for their King by standing up and listening to "The King's Anthem", this time as a jazzversion. The song also plays in movie theaters with pictures of the Royal family and people must stand up for it no matter where they are. Being in a metal show with seats all over the place wasn't the best choice in Bangkok and as Dream Theater took the stage, everyone stood up immediately. At times people sat down, but as the evening got closer to its end, the atmosphere grew more intense and finally the fans just ran in front of the stage, standing there till the end. The floor was in two sections, so not all had the chance to walk in front of the stage. Having seen nine Dream Theater shows around the world, there's never been such wild crowd as this. Might've been the fact, that beer and other drinks were allowed anywhere in the venue and the wildest fans seemed a bit drunk. Well, one had to buy that Singha-promoted plastic beer mug. After all, the print advertised this unforgettable night with Dream Theater logo on it. Only one was filled with water..

The local crowd didn't response to other things in Europen way either. The most brutal songs and solos were the highlights of the evening, while ballads made fans sit down, but still the air was filled with lights from lighters and cellphones. The crowds response was amazing. Whenever John Petrucci or Jordan Rudess started their solos, the crowd even sang along to them! James LaBrie helped Rudess out on his solos, while he played with his Haken Continuum Fingerboard model keyboard and lap steel guitar, sliding his fingers on them, which seemed like an easy task for him. The concert place wasn't exactly the best for a show like this, the echoes bothered a bit and the stage lighting was pretty poor. The stage was stripped down, which made it easier to follow each musician on stage though.

Dream Theater played two sets, just as they've played for a while now and between there was a fifteen minute break. The set began with two new songs, "The Root Of All Evil" and "Panic Attack" and from there on the band went through their albums from start to finish. Anytime the crowd seemed to ease down, Mike Portnoy stood up behind his drumkit and waved the crowd to stand up. He was also throwing around his drumsticks, probably with a roadie, who was standing on Mike's side of the stage and whenever Portnoy catched his sticks, which was most of them, the crowd cheered. There were other tricks too. While playing, he was banging his head with the drumsticks as usual.

LaBrie was the one, who got the crowd going really easily anytime he wanted that. He and the band played a very tight set this evening and LaBrie's vocals were in fine tune. He just didn't speak to the crowd much, and neither did he introduce the songs. The band was introduced at the end of the show. The crowd was singing along to the songs very loudly and the ones sitting far away saw the show from two big screens, with Octavarium-backdrop on stage. The band included the Pink Floyd / Metallica parts in between the songs again and the crowd seemed to love them too. While the band was taking their break, the background tape played Dream Theater songs sung by a female vocalist, acoustically.

Seemed like the album "Images And Words" to the latest one, "Octavarium", had the most impact on Thai fans. "As I Am" got great response, as did "Lie", "Under A Glass Moon" and especially the most complex songs. Portnoy and Rudess had fun fooling around together with their instruments, but LaBrie also impressed with a very heavy and scary part, screaming his lungs out in the end of the show, but that was an actual part of the song, no improvising. Some fan threw a beer mug on stage and this isn't exactly approved behaviour anywhere, so some ten security guys started their search after the person.

The rest of the evening was more like a party, than a show. During the years the guys have cut down their hairs a bit, and unfortunately so has bassist John Myung, who's birthday was celebrated this evening, eventhough it was actually a day earlier. Portnoy brought a birthday cake on stage, but Myung escaped from it, as if he was about to be caked. The whole arena sang "happy birthday" to him and Portnoy threw some bits from the cake to the audience. He also went and took John's bass, played a rough solo with it and joked about bashing it on the floor. The guys still played the mix of "Pull Me Under / Metropolis" and that completed a perfect, three hour event. The guys still came and bowed to their crowd, and seemed very happy about the response they had gotten this night. Portnoy was walking around in his "Iron Mike Portnoy"- robe, which has been seen by many fans during the years. While being such great musicians as they are, they never forgot the humour while perfecting their skills. And that's an admirable feature.

After the show people scavenged through the merchandise boots again and just mingled. The outside arena area and the streets got quickly filled with fans and the passing cars had trouble driving past the arena. Taxis were amazingly few for such a huge concert, but after a twenty minute wait one took us back to Bangkok central in another twenty minutes. We didn't even get robbed by the late ride, it only cost 300 THB, which is around 6 euros.

Unfortunately there are no photos of the show here, but you can view them from Overdrive magazine. Links are found below.

Set One:
The Root Of All Evil
Panic Attack
A Fortune In Lies
Under A Glass Moon
Peruvian Skies
Strange Deja Vu
Through My Words / Fatal Tragedy
Solitary Shell
About To Crash (Reprise)
Losing Time / Grand Finale

Set Two:
As I Am
Endless Sacrifice
I Walk Beside You
Sacrificed Sons

The Spirit Carries On
Pull Me Under / Metropolis

Some Thailand links: Overdrive-magazine, Dream Theater photos
Impact Arena


Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at]
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