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Dream Theater enjoying grandeur or new album, stage show

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2016

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About this time, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci is either bursting with pride -- or wondering what in God's name he's done to himself and his group.

Not only did the Grammy Award-winning progressive hard rock quintet release the most ambitious album of its career, "The Astonishing," in January, but it's also performing the two-disc conceptual piece in its entirety on the road this year. It's more than two hours of characteristically intricate material with metaphysical meaning, which is a lot to handle for an audience -- or a band.

"I was thinking 'Dear God, what have we done!' at the start of this, especially during rehearsals," Petrucci, 48, says by phone from Quebec City. "It was like, 'What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?!' But now that the European leg is done and was a success and we're in the groove and everything is working in the show and we know that we can pull it off, we have a great sense of relief."

Petrucci says a large-scale concept album is "something I really felt that, personally, I wanted to do, and I knew that the band was capable of doing this." He started working on the project in 2013, creating a futuristic, dystopian tale that weaves together elements of science fiction, rebellion and Midieval heroism. "I felt like not only were we able to handle it as a band, but we had the perfect audience for this, for the types of things that would be open to this elaborate sort of rock opera idea," Petrucci says. "That's proven to be the case.

"It's great to be in a band where everybody still has that kind of youthful hunger and excitement about the music, about being creative people, about doing things outside your comfort zone. We all kind of have that fire, and to be able to have an audience that's willing to listen and enjoy this the way we do is a great bonus."

Dream Theater will be presenting "The Astonishing" most of this year and possibly into next. Meanwhile the group is planning to do more with the concept, including a mobile video game, a movie adaptation, a stage musical and possibly a graphic novel in addition to a tour DVD -- though no details have been firmed up for any of that yet.

"We have the album out and now we have the tour, so phases one and two are completely in motion," Petrucci says. "Everyone's been so encouraging about this -- the band, the record company, everyone. There were no naysayers, which was great. Everyone's open to whatever we can do with this. It really fueled the creative fire, so I'm really grateful for that."

Dream Theater

Friday, April 29. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are sold out.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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