“Wanna hear more?” When Lou Reed asks you a question, you know you’re being tested. For the past quarter of an hour, he’s been holding forth on the subject of power tube distortion. Now he wants to know if I’d like him to keep going.
“Benvenuto, bambini!” Roger Waters exclaims through his microphone to the line of children excitedly walking toward the stage inside Rome’s massive Stadio Olimpico. On this blistering afternoon in late July, the former Pink Floyd leader and his band are in the middle of the soundcheck for tonight’s show, at which they’ll perform Floyd’s classic 1979 double-album, The Wall, for 50,000 Italian fans.
Red Rocks is a musical mecca, a natural amphitheater in the foothills of the Rockies renowned for its great sound and serene setting. On this summer night, afternoon storms have given way to sunshine. A rainbow spreads across the plains behind the stage, helping to make the place feel even more magical.
Rock and roll is a funny game to be a part of in 2013. When we’re this connected and this exposed to feedback and criticism on an instant and almost constant cycle, rock and roll’s decided lack of any sort of hip, self-aware irony makes its earnestness an easy target for the smugness that has come to dominate internet culture at large.
What a difference a year makes. In February 1969, the Grateful Dead recorded a series of shows at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West in the hope of finally capturing on tape the psychedelic alchemy of their already legendary onstage interplay. The double album Live Dead, released in November that year, showcased the Dead at their adventurous and exploratory acid-peak best and cemented their reputation as the premier jamming band of the era.
The 46-year-old Petrucci certainly knows a thing or two about challenging one’s self. In more than a quarter century with Dream Theater, the native of New York’s Long Island has regularly raised the bar for six-string (and sometimes seven-string) fretboard wizardry.