Dream Theater in Atlanta

October 19,2010

The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA

It was time for a road trip….and I knew this one was going to be worth it.  Why?  Because I’ve watched drummer Mike Mangini for years.  He’s been a Shure endorser for over 10 years.  This was the type of band that Mike has worked for, practiced for, and should be in.

So, Mike Farriss from Pearl and myself jumped into the Shure PT Cruiser and headed down south to hang with Mike in his exiting new role as the backbone for Dream Theater.  I have followed this group since the first album and being a drummer, was always amazed at the incredible musicianship behind this  group.  Anyone else who has been following the group knows of the changes that recently occurred and the interesting way the band held auditions to find their new drummer.  Watching the video of Mike playing with the group, you can see why he was picked.  His playing is like the glass slipper that fit perfectly. When Mike got the gig, I was so happy for him and his family.

Upon our arrival at the venue, we walked up the ramp that lead right to his monstrosity of a Pearl kit.  Drums, cymbals, hardware, and mics….was I at a music store?  Considering the group, they have the best of what’s available at a music store.   Mike is using our new Beta 98AMP’s on the bulk of his toms, a Beta 27 on his floor tom, KSM32’s covering  his overheads and then a few Beta 91A’s in the kick drums.  He mentioned that they get tons of compliments on sound after the shows.  Special thanks to Nigel Paul, the bands’ FOH Engineer for that!

Walking around the rest of the stage, guitarist John Petrucci has a pair of SM57’s and a pair of KSM313’s on each guitar cabinet.  He also mentioned that he used the KSM353 to track the album with.  There were also a pair of wired SM86 vocal mics on stage.  One for John and the other for lead singer James LaBrie.

Following sound check, I was able to squeeze in a video interview with Mike Mangini where we discussed his transitioning from being an instructor at Berklee to going back out on the road.  We also discussed his use of several Shure products, both for his many recordings and now live on tour.  Look for that video on our YouTube page soon.

We killed some time between that and show time.  I went downstairs to the merchandise table to see what they had and did something I had not done for many years….purchase a tour book.  It has such great photos and the coolest thing…each member of the group had a page where they list what gear they use on tour!

The other part of the book that I took special note of was the intro letter, written by John Petrucci – specifically a paragraph where he talks about recording with Mike Mangini.

John wrote:  “Recording Mike Mangini was one of the highlights of the album experience for me. Mike’s impeccable preparation and positive spirit were refreshingly infectious and set the mood for the kinds of performances we would capture from everyone on this album.  Between the sheer technical mastery of his instrument and the raw musicality that just oozes from his pores, his performances not only brought all of the songs to life but also infused an intensity and passion into the music that was a sight to behold, a pleasure to listen to and just incredibly inspiring. “

This was $ 20.00 well spent and I encourage you to get one when you go see them.  Great photography!

The new album is called A Dramatic Turn Of Events.  A very appropriate title because when the group hit the stage, the crowd was ready to see this new super group and to witness firsthand how the groups turn of events has played out.    The show was a musically emotional roller coaster ride.  There are so many time signatures flying around on stage, it’s like being in the middle of the lottery ball machine where all the balls are time signatures instead of digits.  (OK, maybe that’s overdoing it a bit) It’s challenging to keep up with but a joy to watch the musicians do it so well.

About 5 songs in, the crowd was treated to a drum solo “from another galaxy.” If you have ever seen what Mike can do, it is truly jaw dropping.  Not only that, he brings so much intensity and energy that it’s exciting to watch.  When you understand the mechanics behind it, it makes it that much better…but also very depressing, because I know I can’t do that as a drummer.  🙂

The rest of the show was great and the crowd loved the new addition the band, signified by a loud applause at the end when James announced Mike’s name again.

If you like progressive metal or if you just want to witness 5 incredibly gifted and creative musicians on stage, you owe it to yourself to find out when they are coming to your town.  If they are not, take a vacation and fly somewhere to go see them or do like I did – ROAD TRIP!

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Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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