Iconic drummer and former member of DREAM THEATER, Mike Portnoy performed the band's "12 Step Suite" in its entirety for the first time ever on the Cruise To The Edge, which sailed out of Tampa, Florida on February 7. The music documents the musician's battle with alcoholism, and is an ensemble of five songs recorded by DREAM THEATER from 2002 to 2009, with titles that reflect his struggles: "The Glass Prison", "This Dying Soul", "The Root Of All Evil", "Repentance" and "The Shattered Fortress".
The February 10 concert, which was staged under the MIKE PORTNOY'S SHATTERED FORTRESS banner, featured the following setlist:
First set: LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT material
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Bass, chapman stick: Tony Levin
Keyboards: Diego Tejeida
Guitar: Eric Gillette
02. Acid Rain
03. Universal Mind
Second set: "12 Step Suite"
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Bass: Conner Green
Keys: Diego Tejeida
Guitars: Richard Henshall, Charlie Griffiths, Eric Gillette
Lead vocals on "The Glass Prison": Ross Jennings
Lead vocals on "This Dying Soul": Daniel Gildenlöw
Lead vocals on "The Root Of All Evil": Ted Leonard
Lead vocals on "Repentence": Mike Portnoy
Lead vocals on "The Shattered Fortress": Ross Jennings
Backing vocals: all of the above vocalists, plus Eric Gillette and Charlie Griffiths
Portnoy, who also celebrated his 50th birthday on Cruise To The Edge, said that it was always part of his master plan to perform "12 Step Suite" in its entirety live on stage with DREAM THEATER. However, his 2010 exit from the band made that impossible, until now.
"I would love nothing more than to perform it with [DREAM THEATER]," he told The National Student. "But they've made it clear that they have no intention in reuniting at any point. So, life is short; this is going to be my 50th birthday and it just felt like the right time and place to finally play this music."
He continued: "I wrote all five of these songs with the intention of them being performed from start to finish, and I would have loved nothing more than to be doing it with DREAM THEATER. But it's obviously not on the cards for them. I can't sit around waiting for a reunion that may not happen."
Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than thirty 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 He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI). Portnoy later revealed that he tried to rejoin DREAM THEATER, only to be rebuffed.
Asked in a 2015 interview with Loudwire if it's true that he quit DREAM THEATER due to the fact that he wanted a five-year break from the band but the other guys in the group disagreed, Portnoy said: "Well, I mean, obviously, the fact that I left the band is a fact. But the five-year break thing is fiction. That's a… What is it called? Not a rumor… a myth… urban legend. The five-year thing is an urban legend. I never said five years. I just wanted to have a hiatus. Just 'cause we had been going 25 years — boom! boom! boom! — with no break. Write-record-tour, write-record-tour, and it was burning me out. It didn't mean I wanted to stop making music. One of the biggest misconceptions was, after I left DREAM THEATER, I went off and did, like, five different bands and side projects. Everyone was, like, 'We thought you wanted a break.' And it was, like, well, I didn't want a break from making music; I just needed a break from the DREAM THEATER camp. It was 25 years without a break in that camp, and I was just fried. I needed other people and other musical outlets in my life. But the five-year hiatus, I think… I had suggested hiatus of any length, it somehow got misinterpreted as a five-year… which, coincidentally, would have been now. So it would have been up by now, actually — if it was a five-year hiatus."
Portnoy was also asked whether it's true that he offered to return to DREAM THEATER shortly after quitting the band, but that his offer was rebuffed via DREAM THEATER's lawyer. He responded: "I'll just say that there was… Once I left, there was a tremendous amount of legalities and technicalities, so I'll just say that I was doing whatever it would take to keep peace and keep things going smooth. And at that point, they were just only speaking through their lawyer. But it's a 25-year relationship coming to an end, so, obviously, it goes very, very deep, not only personally and emotionally, but also legally, and all the red tape that's involved with something like that. So it was a tough time, a tough period, and, luckily, we all got through it. But, yeah, I don't wish that kind of stuff on anybody in a band. It's tough."