Words and Photos: Elliott Gordon
The historic Buckhead Theatre in chilly Atlanta, Georgia, played host Wednesday night to guitarist John Petrucci’s latest stop on his fall headlining solo tour. Built in 1930, this 1,800-capacity venue was originally designed in a Spanish baroque style, and while concert attendees typically get the option of either a general admission floor or an upper, seated balcony, Petrucci’s all-ages event was unusually arranged (for a rock show at least) as fully seated.
Out on the road promoting his 2020 solo release “Terminal Velocity,” Petrucci — founding band member of the Grammy Award-winning Dream Theater — is touring with bassist Dave LaRue and fellow Dream Theater alum Mike Portnoy on drums. Supporting Petrucci was the opening act Meanstreak, an all-female thrash metal band anchored by the wives of three Dream Theater members.
Featuring Bettina France (vocals), Martens Myung (bass), Marlene Portnoy (guitar), Yael Rallis (drums), and Rena Sands (guitar), Meanstreak hit the stage at precisely 8:00 pm to their tune “Giant Speaks” from their 1988 album, Roadkill. Out on tour in celebration of their 30th anniversary, Meanstreak entertained the early crowd with an eight-song, nearly 45-minute set of pure metal. It was clear from the onset that these ladies have unmistakable musical talent, with songs elevated by France’s voice that could deliver in a range from angelic to anarchist. Back in the day, I could have imagined them opening for the likes of Testament, where they surely would have stirred up a sweaty moshpit of teenage boys. Meanstreak announced they are returning to the studio soon, so be on the lookout.
Following a fairly quick turnover, Petrucci, with LaRue and Portnoy in tow, took to the stage at 9:15 pm to the title track from his latest release. Having never seen Petrucci live before, my immediate thought was ‘wow, that guitar looks like a tiny toy in his barbarian-sized arms.’ Moreover, with the stage set low to the crowd (maybe only three feet tall), along with a lack of typical smoke and lighting distractions, the capacity crowd could just focus on witnessing Petrucci’s mastery of his instrument.
For 90 minutes Petrucci put on a showcase of his songwriting talent, mesmerizing the Atlanta audience with his prog-metal guitar taps, bends, and shreds as he featured seven new tracks, including “Happy Song,” “The Oddfather,” “Gemini,” and my personal favorite of the night, “Temple of Circadia.” At one point Petrucci even joked that he was “lost in the moment and forgot the crowd was even there” as he felt like he was “just jamming with his friends.” In watching the crowd, it was clear they were just as pleased to be as zoned out watching him as he was playing for them.
The band closed out the night with an emphatic encore performance of “Glasgow Kiss” from Petrucci’s 2005 solo album, Suspended Animation. Not to be missed, this tour runs through late next month, wrapping up its run at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts in Patchogue, New York, on Sunday, November 20th.
John Petrucci Solo Tour Dates with Dave LaRue and Mike Portnoy featuring special guests Meanstreak
October 19th – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre
October 20th – Nashville, TN – CMA Theater
October 21st – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music Hall
October 22nd – Clearwater, FL – Capitol Theatre
October 23rd – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Café
October 26th – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
October 27th – San Antonio, TX – Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
October 28th – Houston, TX – Stafford Centre
October 29th – Oklahoma City, OK – Tower Theatre
October 30th – Dallas, TX – Factory Deep Ellum
November 2nd – Phoenix, AZ – Celebrity Theater
November 3rd – San Diego, CA – The Magnolia
November 4th – Los Angeles, CA – Ace Hotel
November 5th – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
November 7th – San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts
November 12th – Minneapolis, MN – Pantages Theatre
November 13th – Chicago, IL – The Vic
November 14th – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater
November 16th – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
November 17th – Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
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