Concert Review: Dreamsonic 2023 with Dream Theater, Devin Townsend & Animals As Leaders – Hollywood, FL 6/22/23

Review of the Dreamsonic 2023 tour with Dream Theater, Devin Townsend & Animals As Leaders in Hollywood, FL 6/22/23

Photos by Larry Marano Photography

The prog metal concert of the year hit South Florida on Thursday, June 22 when the Dreamsonic tour hit the Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL.  Headlined by prog metal titans Dream Theater with Devin Townsend and Animals as Leaders, this 4 hour extravaganza delivered in every way.

The newly renovated Hard Rock Theater is the premier venue in South Florida recently featuring the likes of Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and more.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house and for a venue this big, there is a still an intimate atmosphere. It was a brilliant place to present this spectacular show.

Animals as Leaders took to the stage promptly at 7pm and dazzled with their incredible virtuosity. The trio of guitarists Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, alongside drummer Matt Garstka are as good as it gets, and for those who were not aware of how good this band is, they were made immediate fans. Tracks like “Micro-Agressions,” “Physical Education,” and their classic “CAFO,” were the perfect way to get the night started and get the crowd pumped. Tosin Abasi’s playing is completely unique and draw-dropping as is that of Javier Reyes, but perhaps the star of their set is drummer Matt Garstka, who at time plays like he has 9 arms. They played for about 45 minutes and, following a brief 20 minute break, Devin Townsend took the stage.

Tosin Abasi – Photo By Larry Marano © 2023
Javier Reyes – Larry Marano © 2023
Matt Garstka – Larry Marano © 2023

On recent tours, Devin has had 6-7 members on stage with stuffed animals and palm trees as a backdrop, but on this tour it is definitely more stripped back with just 3 additional musicians and simple lighting, allowing the music to take full control. Joining Devin were guitarist/keyboardist Mike Keneally, bassist James Leach, and drummer Darby Todd, who were all exceptional, especially Keneally who is a wizard on stage. Devin opened with “Lightworker” from his latest album ‘Lightwork’, before diving into “Kingdom.” The set featured mostly heavier material from his catalog including “Truth,” “By Your Command,” and “Deadhead.” A highlight was “Deep Peace” which showcased Devin’s under appreciated guitar work. He closed with the fun and chaotic “Bad Devil.’ Throughout the show Devin’s humor was on display and showed why his such an incredible and unique showman.

Devin Townsend – Larry Marano © 2023
Mike Keneally – Larry Marano © 2023
Darby Todd – Larry Marano © 2023
James Leach – Larry Marano © 2023

After a 30 minute break, Dream Theater’s opening video montage began and the crowd filtered in quickly. The set kicked off with a pair of tracks from the band’s most recent album ‘A View From The Top of the World’, with the Grammy-award winning “The Alien” and “Sleeping Giant.” Next was the ‘Awake’ classic “Caught in a Web.” The band were as tight as ever with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess leading the way with their other-wordly solos, alongside the ever-outstanding rhythm section of John Myung and Mike Mangini.

Dream Theater – Larry Marano © 2023

Following the recent single “Answering the Call”, the group played the concluding trio of sections from ‘Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence,” which was a particular highlight on the set and allowed James Labrie to shine. The set concluded with “Pull Me Under” and the epic “The Count of Tuscany,” which has become a fan favorite over the years. The song is the perfect mix of everything the band does well and is known for.

John Myung, James LaBrie – Larry Marano © 2023

But this leads us to the best part of the night (Spoiler alert!), where the band played the powerful ballad “The Spirit Carries On.” Jordan Rudess was joined at first by Mike Keneally to being the song, and as the song developed, more players appeared including drummer Darby Todd, Tosin Abasi, and Devin Townsend. Devin alternated phrases with James, while Abasi and Petrucci harmonized on the closing guitar solo. It was the moment you didn’t know you needed to see, but one you won’t soon forget. It was an incredible close to a fantastic night of some music. This is a tour not to be missed.

John Petrucci, Tosin Abasi – Larry Marano © 2023
Devin Townsend, Dream Theater – Larry Marano © 2023
John Petrucci – Larry Marano © 2023
Jordan Rudess – Larry Marano © 2023
Larry Marano © 2023

June 16th – Cedar Park, TX – H-E-B Center At Cedar Park
June 17th – Dallas, TX – Texas Trust CU @ Grand Prairie
June 18th – Sugar Land, TX – Smart Financial Centre
June 21st – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall
June 22nd – Hollywood, FL – Hard Rock Live Arena
June 23rd – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock
June 25th – Atlanta, GA – Fox Theater
June 27th – Washington, PA – Wild Things Park
June 28th – New York, NY – Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
June 30th – Bridgeport, CT – Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater
July 1st – Philadelphia, PA – The Met
July 2nd -Boston, MA – Leader Bank Pavilion
July 4th – Laval, QC – Place Bell
July 5th – Hamilton, ON – FirstOntario Centre
July 7th – Gary, IN – Hard Rock Casino
July 8th – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion
July 9th – Newport, KY – MegaCorp Pavilion
July 11th – Detroit, MI – Masonic
July 12th – OshKosh, WI – OshKosh Arena
July 13th – Cedar Rapids, IA – Alliant Energy Power House
July 15th – Denver, CO – Mission Theater
July 17th – Spokane, WA – First Interstate Center
July 18th – Calgary, AB – Grey Eagle
July 19th – Edmonton, AB – Northern Alberta Jubilee
July 21st – Vancover, BC – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre
July 22nd – Redmond, WA – Marymoor Live
July 24th – San Jose, CA – San Jose Civic
July 25th – Inglewood, CA – YouTube Theater
July 26th – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Financial Theatre

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