The Theater Equation

1. Day One: Vigil
2. Day Two: Isolation
3. Day Three: Pain
4. Day Four: Mystery
5. Day Five: Voices
6. Reprise Pain 1
7. Day Six: Childhood
8. Day Seven: Hope
9. Day Eight: School
10. Reprise Childhood
11. Day Nine: Playground
12. Day Ten: Memories
13. Reprise Pain 2
14. Day Eleven: Love
15. Day Twelve: Trauma
16. Day Thirteen: Sign
17. Day Fourteen: Pride
18. Reprise Vigil
19. Day Fifteen: Betrayal
20. Reprise School
21. Day Sixteen: Loser
22. Day Seventeen: Accident?
23. Reprise Pain 3
24. Day Eighteen: Realization
25. Reprise Trauma
26. Day Nineteen: Disclosure
27. Day Twenty: Confrontation
28. Dream Sequencer System Offline


James LaBrie as 'Me'
Devon Graves as 'Agony'
Heather Findlay as ‘Love'
Eric Clayton as 'Reason'
Magnus Ekwall as 'Pride',
Marcela Bovio as 'Wife'
Irene Jansen as 'Passion'
Anneke van Giersbergen as 'Fear',
Jermain van der Bogt (Wudstik) as 'Best Friend'
Mike Mills as 'Rage/Father'
Nienke Verboom as 'Nurse'
Peter Moltmaker as 'Doctor'
Anita van der Hoeven as 'Mom'

Ed Warby: Drums
Jeroen Goossens: Flutes and woodwinds
Johan van Stratum: Bass
Maaike Peterse: Cello
Ben Mathot: Violin
Marcel Coenen: Guitars
Freek Gielen: Guitars
Erik van Ittersum: Keyboards/synths
Ruben Wijga: Keyboards/synths
Epic Rock Choir

The Final Experiment (1995)
Actual Fantasy (1996)
Into the Electric Castle (1998)
Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator (2000)
Ayreonauts Only (2000)
The Human Equation (2004)
01011001 (2008)
The Theory of Everything (2013)


Recorded and filmed at Nieuwe Luxor theater in Rotterdam
Producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Directed by Yvette Boertje

Released 2016-06-17
Reviewed 2016-06-10




“Is this a dream or is it real? – Sometimes the dream becomes reality.” Those lines from the second track called Day 2 Isolation is what I came to think of when I heard about this project. Taking the equation to the stage, this because I recall how I expressed a desire to see this project in movie form when I reviewed The Human Equation back in 2004 when it was released. And now it will come in movie form as the show that took place in Rotterdam almost a year ago was recorded and filmed and it comes in Blu-ray and everything. “Ah, the human equation – I remember” says Forever of the Stars in the end as do I although I brought out the album and played it again for the first time in a very long while.

It is Ayreon so it is difficult for me not to have expectations and I did order the fattest issue of this release even before having received this promo material, kind of a mad bet I suppose but then again I make money from gambling so why not? But how’s this for racking up expectations? The two Ayreon albums that has been released during our web life has received seven out of seven points and that is something only 18 albums have done since we started in 2007 and four of those are older albums reissued or remembered, the latest one (besides a reissue) I gave seven points is an Ayreon album. But not only that, the Star One album Live on Earth is a brilliant example of how great Ayreon stuff can be live – I still think that album is one of the best ever.

I judge the video through a web stream so the picture quality is probably much better, at least I hope so because the live-DVD by Star One looks better and I really hope this is a better video production. It is better filmed though, the way the story is told through the video is excellent – but I cannot know about the quality until I have watched the blu-ray in a week or so. I also think that they could have utilised the stage better, hiding the instrumentalists somewhere out of sight to give room for a bigger stage production. They should also have made a more dynamic work on the stage moving things between songs and stuff but that would probably have been way too expensive and as it looks I am quite sure this production is quite expensive anyway. I think the look and the stage show is somewhere between a normal live show and theatre, nor really one or the other but lets get back to this after I say some thing about the music.

You can get this as a double CD as well as DVD or blu-ray but to be honest I cannot see why you should. The studio equation is so much better, at least a million times. Still, I think this is a great live production as the sound is good and generally it has power and emotion, there are some songs that are really bad compared with the studio versions but when listening without really analysing too much I would say that most of it is almost as good as on the studio album. The cast is quite similar to the one on the studio equation although Arjen himself does not repeat his role and isn’t really that visible at all in the live show. Other notable differences is that Fear is now a woman, a change that is bad when listening to the music on the headphones but not really anything that bothers me when watching the show. So Åkerfeldt is gone as is Devin Townsend (Rage) and Mike Baker (Father) replaced by Mike Mills – that is not a good change.

So there are some weaknesses in the music I think, favourite songs like Loser, Love and Hope sounds really poor in comparison, they lack the power of the studio versions and Loser has a looser replacing the highlights of the album. The Townsend rage in the end of that song and Mike Baker’s performance are the best on the studio album, also love feels like it is quite ruined by Irene Jansen not being able to sing a good chorus on the song with the best chorus on the entire album. There is another thing that creeps up on me when listening to this, back in 2003 when I reviewed the Live on Earth album I remember thinking that the songs were better on the live album than the studio ones, I never even once thought this when listening to this album. I have revisited Live on Earth, Flight of the Migrator, Into the Electric Castle and The Human Equation and that has not changed my opinion. Live on Earth is definitely by far the best album featuring live versions of Ayreon songs.

But let us not dwell on what is a little poor, this is still a fantastic release in most regards and I really enjoy it. Sure I think I would have been better off just buying the Blu-ray as I know I will not ever play the CDs as the studio equation is miles better but I still think it is a release worth getting and Ayreon fans will probably love it a lot. The performers do mostly well even though you note that they are not really that great actors even though Devon Graves and Eric Clayton both are brilliant and I also think that main character James LaBrie does really well. Jermain van der Bogt who does Arjen’s part as Best Friend might not sing as well as Arjen does on the studio equation but he does his part well as does the wife actor Marcela Bovio. You notice that this isn’t quite their comfort zone but I still like this show and it is well worth watching – and the music is great even though it doesn’t rival the original version released many years ago.

Perhaps the best thing about this album is that it gave me a good reason to play The Human Equation, The Migrator-albums, Into the Electric Castle and Live on Earth again. But it is not only that, I think the equation is a rather elegant one that has a solid solution to the formula, it is worth watching and enjoying. As it always is with Mr Lucassen and his stuff, the minimalism is ground-breaking and you kind of know that the end result cannot be bad - in fact it is excellent.

It became a very long review to say that it is a release well worth checking out, it is different and exciting and even though it has its weaknesses (like the worst sounding release ever by Ayreon) it is a great album and one of this year’s biggest highlights so far. Now all I can do is await my ordered release and confirm that it looks much better than the internet stream I had to watch to review this. Arjen never disappoints, not even when he does.




Label: InsideOut
Three similar bands:
Star One/Arjen Anthony Lucassen/Vengeance
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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