TWO drastically different rock acts are throwing concerts here next week. Progressive rock band Dream Theater (main head picture) is returning after its Singapore debut last year, while veteran Australian performer Jimmy Barnes is here for the first time since way back in 1993.
Dream Theater is in a league of its own as the only band of the genre signed to a major label. And a steady stream of successful and varied albums have made it seem like the band is still in peak form.
Vocalist James LaBrie, however, hasn't been in optimal vocal shape, though he has been at the top of his game artistically. You'd be forgiven for being incredulous at this if you'd heard LaBrie scream on the past few albums - but the best singers know how to sing around their limitations.
"For a while there I experienced a lot of vocal problems because in 1994, at the very end of the year, I ruptured my vocal cords through food poisoning in Cuba," La Brie explains. "It has taken me a good eight years to fully recover and get my voice back to what it was before the accident."
He adds: "In the past three years, I've really been able to come back and be the singer I knew I always was, though I still wasn't able to put 100 per cent out every night. But right now, to be honest with you, I think I'm in the best shape I've been in my life."
All this means is that contrary to plateauing, as many bands do after sustained success, Dream Theater may be poised for a new golden age. There may never have been a better time to see them live, even if you caught them last year.
You also needn't worry about a duplicated song set because the band has kept track of what it played last year and will work hard to give you your money's worth. "You'll definitely be hearing songs from the Systematic Chaos album," LaBrie says. "But also it's been important to us to include songs from the entire catalogue, so it will be a pretty well-packed evening of music, with a few songs from each and every album. It's really important to us that we give as much as we can to our fans."
Progressive rock is characterised by drama, technical proficiency, elaborate arrangements and long songs. And that's a far cry from Jimmy Barnes' straightforward style.
His 1993 performance at Sentosa, at which he sang a duet with Jon Bon Jovi, was very much an old school hollering-on-stage rock affair.
But Barnes' performance next week promises to be something different because it's an acoustic set that should achieve a level of rock energy while also being quite intimate.
"Unfortunately, as much as you like a place you can't just walk in and do shows. People have to book you," Barnes says, explaining why it has taken him so long to perform here again. "I've been in Bangkok for the past few weeks on holiday and a few friends there asked me if I'd like to play in Hong Kong and Singapore," he reveals. "It's a great chance to play to people I've played to before, as well as some new people. There's something very satisfying about performing to a live audience because you know instantly whether or not you're doing well."
Although Barnes released a new album in November called Out In The Blue, he says he won't be performing his new material exclusively, and will be exploring his back catalogue, "and maybe a few surprises too".
While that might be good for audiences who have never seen him before, it's actually a bit of a shame since Out In The Blue came after an especially creative period following open-heart surgery early last year. Warner Music also has no plans to make the album available in Singapore so the concert may be the only chance many people will get to hear the new songs.
Dream Theater - Chaos In Motion World Tour 2008
Jan 17, 8pm, Fort Canning Park
Tickets: $95 (till Jan 16), $105 (on Jan 17) from Sistic
VIP package available from LAMC Productions for $435 including ticket, or $340 for ticket upgrade
Jimmy Barnes Live
Jan 19, 10pm, IndoChine Waterfront
Tickets: $85 (till Jan 13), $95 (from Jan 14), from Sistic