Mike Portnoy attended his second DREAM THEATER concert as a spectator last night (Saturday, July 1) at The Met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 56-year-old drummer, who left DREAM THEATER in 2010, took to his social media to share a selfie of him and his wife Marlene in the crowd at the Philadelphia show, which is part of the band's "Dreamsonic" tour with Devin Townsend and ANIMALS AS LEADERS, and he included the following message: "OK…this is slightly weird!!" He also added a laughing crying emoji.
Portnoy, who lives in Pennsylvania with his family, previously attended DREAM THEATER's concert in March 2022 at Beacon Theatre in New York City. It was the first time he witnessed his former bandmates perform live since his exit from the iconic progressive metal outfit 13 years ago.
According to DREAM THEATER fans who attended the Beacon Theatre show, DREAM THEATER singer James LaBrie gave Portnoy a shoutout from the stage and Mike waved. Several fans also took pictures of Portnoy at the venue, with Mike and his wife reportedly watching the performance from near the Beacon Theatre soundboard.
The next day, Portnoy shared a few backstage photos from the Beacon Theatre concert and he included the following message: "After 36 years, I finally got to see my 1st DREAM THEATER show last night! It was a wonderful evening and it was such a pleasure to spend time with my old friends again".
During a May 2022 appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Mike stated about the circumstances that led to him being present at the Beacon Theatre show: "We had been slowly rekindling the relationships over the years. Obviously, [DREAM THEATER guitarist] John Petrucci and I have made a few albums together at this point — I played on his last solo album, and then he and myself and Jordan [Rudess, DREAM THEATER keyboardist] and Tony Levin got back together to do a LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT album in 2020. So, yeah, John Petrucci and Jordan had been hanging with me a lot through the years, and our families as well. In fact, the first time I played together with Jordan again was on the last Cruise To The Edge in 2019; Jordan and I played together on that. So the relationships had been really, really good and comfortable with those guys. And John Myung [DREAM THEATER bassist] lives right down the street from me, so I would see him in town all the time. And his wife is very, very good friends with my wife. So there's three of the guys that I had been on very, very good terms with over the years. And my wife and John Myung's wife were going to see them at the New York show, and I was, like, 'You know what? What the hell.'"
Portnoy went on to say that he had previously "dreamt about going to see" DREAM THEATER play. "I'm not saying I dreamt like it was my goal; I'm saying I literally would have dreams at night sleeping, where in my dreams I'm going to see DREAM THEATER and it's just an awkward thing," he explained. "So for a long time I was very nervous about it, like how weird would it feel? Would it be uncomfortable? But I finally was at peace with it. I went to the show, and it was really a cool experience; it was not as awkward as I had anticipated or feared. And at the show, James [LaBrie, DREAM THEATER singer] welcomed me from the stage. And I hadn't spoken to James — as a lot of people know, I hadn't spoken to him since I left the band — so I got to see him that night after the show. And I went into his dressing room, and within literally 10 seconds, any of that drama or B.S. that had built up through the years, it melted away immediately. And it was all hugs and kisses and 'love you, bro' and 'miss you, bro.' And it was, like, all that bullshit from the last 11 years was just water under the bridge."
Mike continued: "You can't spend most of your life with a group of guys like that and not be family for life. I met John Petrucci and John Myung when we were teenagers; we met in college and our families have grown up together and our wives all played in a band together and our kids — my daughter and John Petrucci's daughter — live together in Brooklyn. So it's a family. Whether I'm currently in the band or not, that doesn't matter; you can't take away the friendship and the family and the history and the experiences we shared for so, so long."
Regarding what it was like to see another drummer play his parts live with DREAM THEATER, Portnoy said: "I've always been the type of drummer that just flies [by] the seat of my pants in the moment. Even with my own drum parts, I don't necessarily stick to them faithfully from show to show, whereas [current DREAM THEATER drummer Mike] Mangini obviously really studied the drum parts and they had everything programmed out. They're all about the precision, and that's surely their thing. And yeah, he killed it. There's no doubt he's an amazing drummer and he plays my parts incredibly faithfully. I feel bad for him. He and I joked about it. He's in a horrible situation where he's damned if he does and he's damned if he doesn't. He expressed that frustration to me, and I feel for him; it's definitely a weird position to be put into. I kind of had it a little bit when I played with AVENGED SEVENFOLD and TWISTED SISTER, coming into the throne of two drummers that have passed away, and I tried to learn those parts as faithfully as I could. When I had a hired-gun gig like that, I spent a lot of attention trying to honor the drummer that came before me — it's important. I don't wanna go into a gig like either of those and try to force my style onto it."
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER 38 years ago, abruptly quit the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).
In a February 2023 interview with Ollie Winiberg of "The Heavy Hooks Show", Portnoy was asked if he would consider playing a one-off show as a 'hired gun" with his former bandmates to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2025. He responded: "Well, I would surely welcome the idea — absolutely — and I've told the guys such, depending on the circumstances. Obviously, there's a lot of hypothetical circumstances."
He continued: "I don't know if I'd necessarily wanna be a 'hired gun' for a band that I formed; [that's] a little bit of a strange term in that respect. But if you're asking, would I ever play with the guys again? Sure. If the right hypothetical situation came about, yeah, of course. I'm always open to that."
Three years ago, Petrucci released his second solo album, "Terminal Velocity", via Sound Mind Music/The Orchard. The follow-up to 2005's "Suspended Animation" featured guest musicians Portnoy on drums and Dave LaRue (DIXIE DREGS) on bass. The effort marked the first time Petrucci and Portnoy recorded together in over a decade, as well as their first time playing together since Portnoy departed DREAM THEATER.
Photo credit: Travis Shinn (courtesy of ABC PR)