James LaBrie of Dream Theater shares “We let Mike Portnoy take over the setlist again and he’s done a terrific job”

Author Benedetta Baldin - 19.6.2024

The singer of Dream Theater, James LaBrie, discussed the progressive music giants’ impending “40th Anniversary Tour 2024 – 2025” in a recent interview with Brazilian music journalist Igor Miranda. “An Evening With Dream Theater” is the name of the tour, which marks the group’s first performance since drummer Mike Portnoy rejoined them in October 2008. Beginning on October 20 and ending on November 24, Dream Theater‘s “40th Anniversary Tour 2024 – 2025” will make visits to 23 locations throughout Europe. When asked if there had been any conversation over the tour’s set list, James replied:

Well, absolutely. And just so you know, we let Mike Portnoy take over the setlist again. So he’s back to creating the setlist and he’s doing, like we were almost positive he would, he’s done a terrific job. I mean, the setlist he put together… And the thing is with Mike, he was saying, ‘Hey, guys, if there’s a song you don’t wanna do, let me know. If there’s songs that you really wanna do, let me know.’ And so there’s some very strong and cool communication going on. But yeah, he’s glad to be putting the setlist together. I can’t reveal what the setlist will be, but I can tell you that it’s amazing. And I can’t imagine any fan walking out of the venue and going, ‘Oh, shit, man, I wanted them to play this’ or ‘I wanted them to play that.’ This setlist really touches on so many grandiose moments in the band, so it’s really like a power-punch setlist, and it’s really gonna be exciting to see the fans and then to start hearing the conversations once we’re actually playing it live. But now we’re stoked. It’s gonna be a great, great evening, amazing production. And, yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.

LaBrie was also asked about the reunion with Portnoy.

Well, it was something that was slowly… We could kind of see the signs in a way, although at the time, you’re not really paying much attention to it. But now we can kind of reflect back and go, ‘Yeah, I guess that opened a door of maybe some dialogue that would lead to the next thing.’ Being like, if Mike got together with John Petrucci and Jordan [Rudess] and did an LTE album. I mean, that’s one thing that opened one door there. And then Mike got together with John Petrucci and did [Petrucci’s] last solo album. And then he did his first solo tour. So this kind of starts happening. Then Mike and I made amends a few years ago when Dream Theater was playing in New York at the Beacon Theater, and then Mike came out. And it was the first time that him and I had seen each other in — holy shit — probably 12 years at that time, at that point. So that was another thing that kind of led to… I think way in the back of our head, at the time were we thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s inevitable. We’re gonna get back together and put the original lineup back together’? I don’t think any of us were thinking that, but I think there’s probably always a little iota of that sense that it could possibly happen. And I think with us, one thing just kept leading to the other, and eventually, when we were done [with] the last world tour, we kind of… ‘A View From The Top Of The World’, when we finished that [tour in support of that album] and wrapped it up [in] July of ’23, we kind of knew at that point that we just wanted to kind of reflect on everything and take a reading of where we were in our career. what was it that we wanted to achieve. And then the whole Mike Portnoy thing kind of started to become more a reality, where it was just kind of, like, ‘Hey, you know what, guys? We’re at this point in our life and career, if we’re gonna do something like this, maybe now is the time that we should be considering.’ But like I said, it was several things that just started to materialize, little things that grew into a little bit bigger things. And it just kind of evolves from there and it mushrooms into what was undeniable to us at some point in time where we went, ‘Hey, let’s do this. This makes perfect sense.’ And no diss to Mike Mangini’s an amazing, incredible fricking musician, drummer, and the albums he did with us we’re all extremely proud of; they’re great albums. But now here we are in this chapter, back with the original drummer and our 40th-anniversary world tour coming up. So it’s huge. It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be big.

He also shared some news of the upcoming record.

Right now, keyboards are being recorded, as you and I speak. So, yeah, it’s basically, record keyboards and then vocals. And then it has to be mixed and mastered and all that stuff. And then, obviously, the artwork and everything that goes along with any given new album, that also has to be put into the works, and it’s being discussed and so on and so forth. So, yeah, there’s a lot going on, and like any given album when you record it, there’s a process. And, yeah, it’s moving along and it’s coming along amazingly. So, we’re pretty stoked.

LaBrie decided to keep secret the direction of the new album.

You know what? I would really like to save that for when we start interviewing for the new album. I’ll just tell you this: I’ll say, quite simply, we couldn’t be happier with where it is because it’s the album that we wanted to write. It’s the album that we wanted to create, and we nailed it. It’s everything that we wanted to achieve and more. So, what can I tell you? We’re ecstatic. We’re so, so happy about it. And that’s really the best place to be. When you’re creating something like a reunion album, you want it to be absolutely incredible. So we’re stoked. Absolutely.