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An amazing live DVD, almost flawless - 94%

gazzoid, December 23rd, 2005

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Well, I watched this DVD with an open mind, not being a Dream Theater fan for many years though at the same time not having anything against them. I’d heard Train of Thought and quite frankly thought it was brilliant, but I was introduced to them fully and introduced to most of their albums by a friend, and that also included this gem, a live DVD of Dream Theater’s gig on their Train of Thought tour at the legendary Budokan arena in Tokyo. When I saw the package it wasn’t overly impressive and a booklet was nowhere to be seen. But seriously, that doesn’t matter when you have two dvd’s that are full of such great music?

I was able to enjoy a whole recorded Dream Theater, featuring 18 tracks (One of them a keyboard solo, one an medly of instrumental sections from past songs). They kicked off with hit “As I am” and other album song “This Dying Soul” Seeing them play these songs live is breathtaking. As they ripped through other album tracks like “Endless Sacrifice” and the classic “Beyond this Life” during the early stage of the DVD! James LaBrie can certainly sing live despite a few awkward patched here and there. But his vocals are possibly even better than on the studio when the ballads are sung. Especially “Hollow Years” These songs are all great and even better to witness live than on a the studio releases even. Watching everyone Rudess, Portnoy, Petrucci and Muyng live is amazing.

Never is the incredible musicianship more apparent then on the stunning “Instrumedley” which is one of the real highlights. It was stunning! An epic track that as the title describes is a medley of all the instrumental sections that Dream Theater have done, including some Liquid Tension Experiment as well! A true demonstration of why these guys are for me, the greatest musical ensemble in rock and metal history! Each one a master at their own craft and unlike some groups including great individual musicians, it all works so well.

The gig goes on and on in fantastic fashion. They rip through more classics such as “New Millennium” “trial of Tears” etc. We even have time for a two-part keyboard solo from the masterful Jordan Rudess. After watching this guy play I decided to take up keyboards. His first section is pretty mandatory, doing scales on the keyboard, it’s hardly tuneful but it has a certain space age edge to it that makes it work. His second section is what really works for me, an oriental style tune that is beautiful, purely beautiful. A real treat!

The classics keep coming as the strain starts to show on LaBrie’s vocals. He gets a rest for the epic instrumental off Train of Thought “Stream of Consciousness” that once again [proves their musical wizardry. The crowd really enjoyed this one and they got one heck of a cheer at the end. James LaBrie returned to an applause as they closed with what else but their biggest ever commercial hit, the insanely catchy “Pull Me Under” His singing sounds a bit strained at times here, but you still find yourself singing along to “This world is spinning around me, This world is spinning without me” and so forth. They leave…

But of course like most bands they return for the encore. They only play one of course, because that is the truly epic 14 minute masterpiece off Train of Thought”In the Name of God” It sound great here like on the album, despite a few dodgy notes from La Brie, he still sounds good and can obviously sing live, but he has a tendancy of hitting a few notes funnily and strangely enough singing the harsher vocals in a way that you’d have no idea what he was saying if you weren’t aware of the lyrics already. But it’s still a great track to close, and at the end you have a great feeling of satisfaction. And who wouldn’t after witnessing a 3hour show from these masters?

The second disk is full of some nice extras including an entertaining drum solo. A short run through of their career, a tour documentary and both a bit about the keyboards and guitars. Ok, neither Petrucci nor Rudess explain in the most ott entertaining way ever, but they tell it how it is, and it’s quite interesting. Nice little bonus DVD worth watching especially for the drum solo.

Negatives – La Brie’s rare tendencies to sound a bit off or be impossible to understand. The package isn’t too amazing either…

Positives – Great live show in general, Truly amazing examples of musicianship, most of the classics, some nice treats, excellent picture and sound quality. A good little bonus DVD

If you’re a Dream Theater fan, this is an essential thing to own. If you hate ‘em, avoid at all costs. If neutral, I’d still encourage you to buy, buy, buy!