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Ok, for a show that starts out with A Change Of Seasons, this ain't bad. The song itself is great for a 24 minute epic. The first disc is great, showcasing Puppies on Acid, Voices (with a quick SW force theme intro), Take The Time (with Free Bird / Moby Dick teasers at the end), along with Sherinian's solo and the massive Scarred -> The Darkest Of Winters -> YTSE Jam -> Mike's solo.
Being a drummer myself, any of Mike's solos are incredible. Sherinian's wasn't, though, too short, and too heavily influenced by Lines In The Sand, which, although a great song, took away from his originality, which is simply a 30 second jam of him playing a few quick notes.
The next disc gets a bit foggy. Trial Of Tears starts with an intro to some cool teasers, including Close Encounters With The Third Kind, and ends awesomely. Hollow Years is definitely a week spot there, including Take Away My Pain. What? Seriously! You had Burning My Soul and Hell's Kitchen, 2 awesome songs from FII, my personal favorites, and you played Hollow Years and Take Away My Pain? For shame.
Caught In A Web is played excellently in this show, although Lie wasn't. LaBrie's voice faltered at times where I couldn't hear what he was saying. One song that he doesn't sing high on for the verses, and I STILL CAN'T HEAR HIM!
Peruvian Skies is a personal favorite, with the Have A Cigar and Enter Sandman teasers in there, it's way better than the studio version. I personally am a big favorite of solos, and John's is great, however, at times his soloing was, need I say it, "too crazy" where you can't hear the notes being played. If you can't hear the notes in a solo, what's the point of playing it? That said, the whole transition ending at Pull Me Under is fantastic, great way to close out a show.
Metropolis starts the encore, although after 2:30 they start to solo right into Learning To Live. That whole transition, and in fact, the whole 10 miutes of both of those songs were another week point. The songs could've been longer, but they weren't, Metropolis at 6:16, LTL at 4:13. Heck, I couldn't even tell I was listening to LTL at a certain point!
Ending the encore with The Crimson Sunset, the show isn't that bad overall, but could've been a lot better. Burning My Soul and Hell's Kitchen, as I said before would be much better and make the show so much better, since they would make such epic endings.
This show, however, is a great way to avoid getting Falling Into Infinity, since most of the good songs are already on here, and Burning My Soul and Hell's Kitchen are only better live. Overall, great album, but not perfect. Barely every live show is ever perfect.
Well, I'm generally not a fan of live albums because many of them reek of cash-in or a deficit of creativity, you know, a stop-gap in other words. I own several, but count few as my favourites. Once in a LIVEtime is no different, the record being a live album that has high-quality recording and solid performances, but not a record that takes great songs and makes them better (Let There Be Rock: The Movie, Unleashed in the East, Tokyo Tapes) and therefore perhaps not a must-own, not an integral addition to the catalogue.
Still any album that manages to pack no less than four of the best Dream Theater songs in a row, those being (he says in a quavering voice) "Voices", "Take the Time", "Scarred", and "Lines in the Sand", all of those songs being ten minute-plus Epics with that capital "E". Not only that, but they follow it with a killer instrumedley featuring "The Darkest of Winters" and the most insane 'world-domination through technicality' attempt, the "Ytse Jam". The first disc of this collection is a blinding collection of truly amazing songs, from pieces of inevitable (and overrated) fan-favourite "A Change of Seasons" to the aforementioned classics, it's all good. It's interesting what trade-offs you get, from the slightly sloppy yet sparkly and energetic live version of "Take the Time" as compared to the streamlined and totally perfect studio version.
Alas, the second disc is pretty weak in comparison, a frustrating Falling Into Infinity three-for kicking this off and boring you to death. I can't believe they actually performed "Take Away My Pain" live, let alone recorded it. Have they no shame? "Trial of Tears" features an extended intro which prolongs the boredom, and "Hollow Years" seems to just ramble on even longer than usual. "Caught in a Web" is solid, but man, "Lie" doesn't go as well as it should, and the final medley succeeds only in frustrating my interest in hearing good live versions of "Metropolis" and "Learning to Live". Luckily, "Peruvian Skies" and "Pull Me Under" knock it out of the park, the former grafting on pieces of "Have a Cigar" and "Enter Sandman" which somehow work perfectly.
Also, I hate solo spots on live albums because they lose all the effect they had on the live audience, and this album has three of them. Luckily, the piano solo and drum solo are kept short, and the guitar solo manages to be sporadically interesting.
Anyway, this album is well worth a buy if you don't feel like blowing a hole in your wallet for Live Scenes From New York, but it is simple a stellar live album, no more and certainly no less.
First of all, I would like to say that this album is called Once in a Livetime. In some areas, such as John Petrucci's guitar playing ability, this album shows improvements from the studio. Another high point of this album is how the band chooses to show their talents by dedicating tracks to solos for Petrucci, Portnoy, and Sherinian. One of the flaws of the album is the voice of James LaBrie. He has an excellent voice, but on this album it kind of gets away from him at times to where what he is saying cannot really be interpreted if you have never heard the song before. I was also slightly disappointed in the track selection. They have most of their best songs on here, such as Lie, Pull Me Under, and The Mirror(which are all done amazingly), but they felt that they had to include the majority of the often criticized album A Change of Seasons. Its kind of strange though how at the end of Take the Time, they play the guitar solo to Free Bird(IMO way better than the original) and in another song, they play the opening riff to Enter Sandman. Unless you are a diehard Dream Theater fan, I wouldn't recommend paying full price for this 2-cd set, but its a pretty good deal if you can find it for about the price of a used cd.