WEST VALLEY CITY Somebody better check Gov. Huntsman's iPod. When New York quintet Dream Theater took the stage at the Ford Theater Monday night in the E Center, it did so on its very own day, as designated by the governor.
To the approximately 2,000 fans gathered to hear the progressive-rock icons, the night would have been special anyway.
Playing inside the Beehive State for the first time since 2000, the group invaded the stage after a video montage that introduced more than 20 years of the band's history with both images and music.
Kicking off the high-energy set was Richard Strauss' dramatic classical selection "Also Sprach Zarathustra," which led right into "Constant Motion" from the band's latest album, "Systematic Chaos."
While the new disc would figure prominently in the set list, the band didn't ignore its old favorites, unleashing "Take The Time" and the ballad-turned-thumper "Endless Sacrifice."
The latter tune featured some speedy and complex duet sections between bassist John Myung and guitarist John Petrucci with Jordan Rudess on keyboards, who was difficult to ignore as he lit up the scales.
Both songs, as with almost every tune in DT's catalog, feature dizzying individual musical acrobatics that are difficult for a casual listener to fathom or appreciate. Few in attendance Monday were casual, however, as most anticipated every note of the lightning-quick finger work as evidenced by air guitars, air drums and fist pumps.
Meanwhile, band leader and drummer Mike Portnoy seemed to enjoy playing to the audience with enthusiastic gestures and facial expressions while leading the plentiful in-song time changes. Vocalist James LaBrie's soaring operatic singing gave the performance a human element in an ocean of expertly played electronica.
LaBrie announced to the crowd that the band's meeting with Huntsman led to the designation of "Dream Theater day in Utah." He credited the governor with a fair knowledge of the type of music the band plays and assured the crowd that there wouldn't be such a long pause between visits to Utah.
Then the band jumped into more new material with the heavy and dark "The Dark Eternal Night."
Things lightened up a bit with a much less aggressive and more melodious "I Walk Beside You" and "Take Me As I Am," and then "Pull Me Under," perhaps the unit's most important song in establishing its early career. LaBrie's pipes were just up to the challenge of the powerful high notes that were required.
Wrapping up the regular set was the new "In The Presence of Enemies." Divided into two parts on the album, it got the full 26-minute treatment as a whole song Monday.The band's encore consisted of a lengthy medley of favorites and another promise from the band that it would not wait so long again before returning to Salt Lake City.
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