[LIVE REVIEW] Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress @ The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne – 25/11/2017

Progressive music fans bow down, Mike Portnoy is here and he has chosen Melbourne to play his last ever Shattered Fortress show. It comes as no surprise that Melbourne is the final destination for this amazing tour, our veins bleed live music, and what an honour and privilege it was to witness the end of something so monumental in Mike Portnoy’s distinguished career.

As the clock ticked down to nine o’clock the electricity in the room reached an all time high, the anticipation thick enough to cut with a knife, would this show meet my expectations? You bet your ass it would, it would meet it and then kick it to the next hemisphere!

As the curtains slid back the sound was deafening as Mike (with trademark blue beard and headband) accompanied by English prog metal outfit Haken together with Eric Gillette took to the stage. The band all wearing their favourite Dream Theatre T-Shirts and Mike wearing a Haken one, a terrific sentiment for the last ever performance of  Shattered Fortress. The band played the songs as though there were there own, absolutely faultless all night, their passion for this intricate music unwavering.

Opening with Overture 1928, Strange Déjà vu and The Mirror it was a winning trifecta right there for any Dream Theatre fan. Mike then took a moment for a quick chat, stating that this will be the last time he plays these songs.  While this is a really sad moment for many it is a pivotal moment for Mike who is moving in a different direction and has new music on the horizon with Sons of Apollo.

Back to his second home behind the kit and into the Twelve-Step Suite, The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul and The Root of All Evil, each equally as brilliant as the last. With the crowd at fever pitch and fist pumping in overdrive it was time to take it down a notch and catch your breath as Repentance rang out.  A great time to watch and reflect on the history that this superb musician has given us, it was an extremely emotive journey over the course of the evening.

With accolade’s a plenty, and undoubtedly the world’s finest drummer, Mike Portnoy was simply sensational. His drumsticks an extension of his body, his body at one with his kit, the fusion between the two indistinguishable. Shattered Fortress took The Croxton to celestial heights fans screaming, singing and some crying, their adoration of this man and his music undeniable.

As the chants for more rose to a thunderous crescendo, the boys were back and straight into Home, The Dance of Eternity and finishing it out with Finally Free.  The musicianship second to none, all on stage completely spent, nothing left in the tank but so proud to be part of this once in a lifetime event.  On a side note, the sound was absolutely incredible, the lighting bloody perfect and Mike’s drum technician one in a million, full credit to all involved in making this the unforgettable night it was.

As Mike and his band took to the stage for a final bow the screaming hoards raised the roof in appreciation, then his final words, “see you next year with Sons of Apollo” now that is something to look forward to!  Thank you Mike Portnoy for years of dedication to progressive metal music, you take us on a journey every time you step behind your kit. We will now count the days until your return, but please don’t leave it too long!

Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale