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Dream Theater at their best - 96%

gazzoid, February 10th, 2007

Over the last couple of years it’s fair to say that Dream Theater have become one of my all time favourite bands. Out of their 8 albums I adore 6, with Awake and Falling into Infinity being the only exceptions, and even they have their moments. I’ve also always enjoyed their live work, having seen ‘Live at Budokan’ and owning ‘Scenes from New York.’ So when I heard that they were releasing another DVD of their 20th anniversary tour finale, highlighting their entire career, I was always going to buy it at some point. Then of course I heard that some of the show was being played with the Octavarium orchestra, naturally I now intended to buy it as soon as it came out.

Well, firstly I have to say, the packaging looks awesome. Mike Portnoy designed it I believe, he’s a truly multi-talented guy. It’s eye catching indeed. There is no booklet to coincide with the actual DVD, just advertising one. However that matters little as the back of the cover features as many live photos of the band as you could possibly need. Overall, nicely packaged.

The DVD kicks off with a couple of tracks off “Octavarium” in the shape of The Root of All Evil and I Walk Beside You. These songs really work better live I feel, (perhaps it’s hearing them without the sub-par album production). Early on, you feel that LaBrie is on top form vocally and has a real aura about him.

This was a concert spanning their entire career so they then started playing songs in chronological order. From songs from the Majesty days like “Another Won” to classics like “Under a Glass Moon” they ripped through the set. They were all on top form, especially as I mentioned earlier LaBrie who was almost flawless. They finished the set with a moving performance of “The Spirit Carries On” and that was the end of part one of the concert. The highlight so far being LaBrie getting a chance to sing songs like “Afterlife” that were of course originally sung by Charles Dominici.

But it was now that the fun part began, as the Orchestra made their way out. We’ve heard bands like Metallica, Kiss and Scorpions play with orchestra’s, now it was Dream Theater’s turn… and what better song to open with for an orchestra than Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The band often paly snippets of the song live but this was a rare opportunity to hear the whole 45minutes + played live and with an orchestra to boot. One thing I noticed throughout this song and the rest of the concert in fairness is that the orchestra didn’t make as much of a difference as I expected. With bands I mentioned previously, it totally changed how certain songs sounded, however on this occasion (probably due to the fact that DT use more orchestration than the other band) the songs weren’t altered dramatically. However, the orchestra provided a subtle touch and extra edge to the ambience, they went so well with the band that they didn’t alter the sound as much as they might have.

They skip through tracks like “Vacant” (a chance for LaBrie to show us just how well he was singing) and “The Answer Lies Within” and then we were back with Octavarium. (While it was a career-spanning concert, this was still the main focus) One of the real highlights was “Sacrificed Sons” which sounded awesome with the orchestra as well and with LaBrie on such good form. After “Octavarium” the band went off but came back for one more encore, their classic “Metropolis” leaving the crowd in attendance and folk like me watching the DVD very happy.

Their performance of every song was as ever verging on flawless. They truly are incredible musicians and LaBrie proved this night that he is a great singer himself. My only slight problem was with the song selection. Overall it was good, no doubt, but it was missing some more punch. It may have benefited from another song off “Train of Thought” to add a bit of impact, it wasn’t the heaviest set they’ve ever done.
However, all in all it was an awesome live performance.

Now it’s always a good sign when there is a whole new disco for extras, and the extras don’t come any better than this. There is the usual tomfoolery of artwork and the like, but here we have a couple of extra live tracks and most importantly, the main attraction the hour-long documentary. Now, often documentaries are too short and whip quickly through a band’s career, but DT have never been one’s to cut things short. The documentary charts the band’s career, from how they met and formed in Music College to their recent success. With each member of the band (as well as a couple of past members) adding their two cents this documentary and the extras themselves prove to be a winner.

So, overall this was a seriously good DVD package. The packaging is good, there are genuinely worthwhile extras and of course, the concert performance is brilliant as always. In fact, it was a particularly good show and this is a particularly good DVD release, and by Dream Theater standards that truly is saying something.