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John Petrucci and Meanstreak Make It a Family Affair at the CMA Theater in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Guitar World Hall-of-Famer and Grammy Award-winner John Petrucci spent much of the pandemic downtime recording his second proper full-length solo album Terminal Velocity with help from former Dream Theater bandmate Mike Portnoy on drums and longtime G3 support man Dave LaRue on bass. When the coast was finally clear he called both players who are instrumental to his sound and asked them to join him on his first ever solo tour. This much anticipated trek rolled into Nashville's CMA Theater on October 20, 2022 with a million notes in tow.

Dave LaRue, Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci at the CMA Theater in Nashville.

What makes this outing extra special is that it is a tale of renewed friendship and a love story with a mean streak. You see, Petrucci and Portnoy have not shared a stage in twelve years ever since the damn fine drummer departed the band he co-founded after 25 years of service in 2010. When that group was forming in the late 80's three of its principle members all coincidentally fell for a few of the ladies in the all female heavy metal band Meanstreak - who have joined this tour for their own extra special 30th anniversary reunion spectacular.

The ladies - Bettina France, vocals; Martens Myung, bass; Yael Rallis, drums; Marlene Portnoy, guitar; and Rena Sands, guitar - were quite good as they presented their own brand of progressive rock and thrash that explored a dark array of themes in the opening slot. The Dream Theater wives made a decision to leave their equipment on the sidelines over 30 years ago in order to raise families while their husbands earned a living and built reputations as prolific gods of prog rock. Now reunited after three decades, they played a mix of both old and new tracks from a forthcoming release so it seems as if this monster is once again woken from a long dormancy making for legitimate competition in the family business.

The CMA Theater got a jolt of metal in Music City.

In Nashville, Petrucci greeted those in attendance at the circular theater and talked about how they - well, mostly Mike - had friends in the audience (spotted in the room were Neal Morse and Korn drummer Ray Luzier). John talked about taking in the exhibits at the Country Music Hall of Fame and dining with his wife Rena earlier in the day at the upscale Palm restaurant before adding that this venue most likely hadn't experienced this much metal before on a single night and he was probably right about that.

Our highlights from the progressive power trio's set included the title track from Petrucci's new album and the older "Gemini" from the same album that John said he wrote a long time ago but still fit right in with the twin statements that his pair of solo records have made to date. The encore "Glasgow Kiss" felt uplifting before closing out with a brief snippet of "Freebird" to mark the 45th anniversary of the Lynyrd Skynyrd tragedy that occurred this day back in 1977.

Post show triumph with the terrific threesome.

That quick foray into southern rock got us thinking about the future of DT now that John and Mike Portnoy are working together again. Could they ever take a page out of the Allman Brothers Band and hit the road with two drummers? If so, perhaps Jordan Rudess could move up front to join J.P. on guitar while they bring back Derek Sherinian to man the keyboard duties? Since we were sitting right behind him, we passed on this suggestion to DT's soundboard tech and he said he would "put in the order" while revealing that there have been similar conversations within the ranks over the years. Can you imagine a seven-piece Dream Theater? Now, that would really be something to see in Music City.

JOHN PETRUCCI SETLIST: Terminal Velocity | The Happy Song | Jaws of Life | The Oddfather | Gemini | Out of the Blue | Tunnel Vision | Damage Control | Snake in My Boot | Temple of Circadia | Encore | Glasgow Kiss

Meanstreak meant business in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on JOHN PETRUCCI and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - John Petrucci | Meanstreak | CMA Theater


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