GIG REVIEW: An Evening With JORDAN RUDESS Live at The Triffid Bar, Brisbane
To prog metal fans around the world, Dream Theater is a band renowned for outstanding musicianship, ambitious concept albums and ecstatic performances. A band where each member drives the engine equally and the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. The individual members however have forged their own paths and while Dream Theater continues to tour and release new albums, over the years band members have come and gone with each member garnering a reputation that allows them to work as session musicians or tour solo.
Keyboardist Jordan Rudess has been dazzling the metal world with his extraordinary talent but his training as a classical pianist at the prestigious Julliard School in Manhattan gave him plenty of opportunities to play in multiple genres working with artists such as David Bowie to composing with keyboard and orchestra in the Czech Republic. For the first time in his career Jordan embarks on a world tour under his name titled From Bach to Rock: A Musicians Journey Tour, a chance for his loyal fans to see him play on his own in an intimate setting and to hear him tell stories about his personal journey while playing covers of songs that greatly inspired him and songs that he composed with the various bands he has worked with over the years.
Jordan’s first Australian solo concert was in The Triffid bar in Brisbane, a small room where a couple hundred people gathered and faced just a Korg Grandstage digital Piano on stage. Unlike any rock concert that Jordan has ever associated himself with, when the man himself arrived the atmosphere felt very much like a piano bar show. The only resemblance with a Dream Theater concert was the one hour two sets with a 15-minute interval in between. In the first half there was lots of story telling about his early days discovering his gift as a pianist, auditioning and being accepted into the Julliard School, making the audience laugh with his anecdote of playing piano in a Band-Aid commercial and finding his musical direction when he first listened to the album ‘Tarkus’ by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and at the same time discovering the mind blowing sounds of the Moog Synthesizer. It felt as if everyone there was invited into his personal rehearsal space, as his repertoire introduced Bach as well as a medley of songs by Pink Floyd, Genesis and King Crimson.
The second half shifted to his latter career, he shared the story of receiving a call from Mike Portnoy to first join Liquid Tension Experiment and then accepting the vacant role of full time keyboardist with Dream Theater. He also fondly remembered being asked by David Bowie to play on his 2002 album ‘Heathen’ and asking the guys from Dream Theater if he could take 12 days off to record somewhere on top of a mountain with Bowie. This proceeded with a poignant rendition of “Space Oddity” where Jordan attempted to sing while playing the piano.
Of course he could not do a solo show without including some Dream Theater compositions and to the delight of the fans he played a few songs of his debut album 19 years ago with the progressive metal titans ‘Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From a Memory’ including that incredibly gymnastic and spellbinding instrumental “The Dance of Eternity”. Jordan’s desire to be innovative was also on display with his demonstration of the GeoShred app on an IPad shredding the blues scale to smithereens.
After the show fans got a chance to meet Jordan at the merch desk and most people left with a completely different experience to any other show from a rock musician. Jordan wears many hats but his journey from classical to rock gives him the freedom to play shows to thousands of people in large venues or to an intimate theater size room with just a couple of hundred people watching. He did promise he would return to Australia with Dream Theater in the future but for fans that wanted something more personal with stories accompanying the music, this was a special evening that may well not ever happen again.