It was a full day of guitar for me. First, I played guitar for my church (Terra Nova) in our morning service. Then I went to the John Petrucci clinic that afternoon. And I JUST got back from the Dream Theater concert in downtown Albany. I have to say it was a good day.
So I got to attend the two hour clinic that Petrucci held before the show. As John walked right by me to take the “stage” I immediately noticed that he’s built! He looks like he benches 300 lbs. In a rock world of drug-’n-alcohol-emaciated skank-males with wispy gangly limbs this is a welcome departure. John actually made several gym references and workout analogies during the clinic.
The next thing I noticed was that he really knew his music theory… (what did I expect?!) …which is what happens when you come out of Berklee and not your cousin’s garage. And he also spoke with authority, yet with a relaxed down-to-earth tone… like a police officer speaking at a school. It was great, and completely unexpected.
Needless to say the small performance illustrations he did during the clinic blew everyone away. This guy is insanely good. He is easily one of the top, top rock guitarists in the world. He covered a lot of ground in a short time, but here are some of them:
- Inversions – 1 note per string, 2 notes-per-string (with alternating finger assignments)
- Practicing – EVERY day… even if only for short periods, and getting in the habit of practicing through whole songs or sequences (as if playing live)
- Strength Exercises – 4 sets of 10 repetitions of tight, fast licks (just like working out)
- Endurance Exercises – Performing fretboard exercises like doing wind sprints (SPRINT JOG SPRINT JOG)
- Skill Exercises – Pure repetition of difficult phrases… over and over and over on top of one another
- Polish Exercises – Custom made repetition exercises to fine tune difficult phrases, hard to hit notes, and hard to form chord changes
- Sweep Picking – 2, 3, and 4-note sweeping (the right-hand tempo and consistency is the key)
This was my first concert at Albany’s Washington Avenue Armory… a cute little basketball arena that serves the purpose, I guess. We showed up in time to catch the last half of the third (and final) opening band (Opeth, who growled and gurgled a lot).
Once Dream Theater took the stage the place was electric. Despite the muddy sound mix (the low end really muddied both the vocals and the more treble-y moments) the band sounded other-worldly, each performing his craft to mind-numbing levels of accuracy and precision. At several points Petrucci has me just shaking my head… there was nothing else I could do but watch his effortless sweeps and runs (legato and alt-picked) up and down the neck. *sigh*
Here’s the setlist, compliments of Krazy Ken:
1. Constant Motion 2. Panic Attack 3. Strange Deja-Vu 4. Through My Words 5. Fatal Tragedy 6. Surrounded (extended) 7. The Dark Eternal Night 8. Take The Time ------------------------------------ 9. Shmedley Wilcox: I.Trial Of Tears II. Finally Free III. Learning To Live IV. In The Name Of God V. Octavarium (Razor's Edge)
It was a great show. This was my first time seeing them. My only real complaint? They didn’t play Pull Me Under!? Holy smokes… how can you go to a Dream Theater show and not hear Pull Me Under? Oh well… just another reason to see them again.