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Six tracks is all you will need. - 100%

PowerDaso, November 26th, 2010

Whenever I thought about Live at the Marquee I would say "Hey, it's only six songs, it can't be that good". Of course, I though that way maybe because I expected more from a live album, and even much more knowing that it is not any random band, but we're talking about prog gods Dream Theater here, recalling that they have 3 hour-long setlists. If you think properly about this, all this information may be correct, but you're forgetting something. Dream Theater was a really young band back then in the '93, and even being as famous as they were for their acknowledged single, Pull Me Under, they still had a long way to go. Now, since I've recently entered deeply into the early Dream Theater world (not that I wasn't there before, but I just wanted to know more), I decided to get Live at the Marquee and see what it was all about. I found myself much more trapped withing the sound of this than I ever thought I would be.

Dream Theater has always kept the intention of playing perfectly live. Here on Live at the Marquee they had not yet reached to the point where adding extra pieces (or "improvisations", as they are wrongly called nowadays) to the songs, but instead they tried to play the songs properly, identically to the ones on the album. The only one to differ in these standards was James LaBrie, whose case I will explain later on. The mixing of this live album helps a lot in the replication of the studio version of the songs. Every instrument, just like on the albums, which by the date were only two, stands out as much as the others. I especially like the fact that there are When Dream and Day Unite songs in here, since those are pretty uncommon these days and, besides this, they are sang by James LaBrie instead of Charlie Dominici and their sound quality (believe it or not) is better than the one from the studio versions of the songs. They also added Another Hand to make a variation on The Killing Hand's intro. As much as I like The Killing Hand's original version, Another Hand makes it even better and propels the listener to keep listening to the song. It was also a step up to the "extra pieces" that they add more than commonly now.

As mentioned earlier, Dream Theater was a very young band back then. Regardless of this, they have always been virtuosos on their instruments, every single one of them. One of the most outstanding things of Live at the Marquee is James LaBrie. If you have seen any recent live performances by them, it is easy to notice how much his voice has changed. On Live at the Marquee, LaBrie's voice is intendedly powerful, wide-ranged and perfectly managed and really in-tune with the songs. He by no means lets his skills be overshadowed by other elements in the music and in fact does his best effort here. If you listen to Metropolis in here, he has that uncommon grip on his voice, and at the same time he lets his range go out as high as it can, even singing out a F#5 in mid-verse. That's only a slight proof of how good he did in here. Kevin Moore, ex-keyboardist of the band, was also in here. He, unlike Rudess, makes the songs sound more similar to their album versions, for he is the one to have the original patches of the songs and he doesn't add improvisations to the songs. For comprehension, listen to Live at Budokan's Pull Me Under and this album's version of Pull Me Under.

Other than that we have John Myung, John Petrucci and ex-drummer Mike Portnoy. They, as usual, try to play the songs perfectly while adding their unique touch to the music. The most outstanding track for the three of them and Moore is Bombay Vindaloo, a song that is unique for this album. Petrucci gets the spotlight fully on him in this song, doing some awesome fast and sensefull solos, while Myung shows off his bass playing technique more in the intro with some bass harmonics and such. The song has basically this harmonic minor (or Egyptian-like) sound to it, but it is utterly enjoyable. It is mostly pretty calm, with some string backups by Moore and a common, yet at times progressive drumming from Portnoy. The solos' work in every other song was great, they were performed identically to the album versions but they still have the crisp of a live presentation.

So yeah, six songs only. The reason for liking this album so much is the perfection of how those six songs are performed, the energy of the audience and the outstanding power in LaBrie's vocals. I think this is a true "must" for every single Dream Theater fan, so if you don't have it try to check it out.