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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!

Living the Live Theater show - 95%

Passoul, November 30th, 2005

I own the entire discography of Dream Theater at the exception of some booklets and special release and this DVD is one my favorite life album ever. It is in my opinion the finest work of images and of music on stage of Dream Theater. The images of this DVD is like if it was real! I mean you can even try to touch to the gigantic drum of Mike Portnoy or trying to see how Petrucci plays his solos with the perfection even outside of studio. At first, we could think that it is a movie about this band, but it is a live DVD of a 3 hours perfomance on stage. For the music, the choice of the tracks are good and are spread around all of their discography even if it is a show for Train of Thought which was their last release at this time.

First, it starts with As I Am and it really catch you there where you want it. Powerful music representation with energy in the music. It is one of the best track to begin a show. The little problem is that Labrie sound on this track is not perfect and that he has some problem starting the show. But this doesn't stop him of putting energy on stage. Then it switch to This Dying Soul, heavy sound with good instruments passages. Still again, something is wrong with Labrie's singing just like it wasn't fix yet with the volume of the music going on.

But everything is fix when it follows on Beyond This Life. Impressive Labrie voice that is heard on Scenes from a Memory is there and is even magic with the music. The very impressive part of this song is when they do the jamming thing. It is just awesome! Petrucci plays a very strong jamming solo with a sound that chills me to the bone everytime I hear it! It is powerful and clear, beginning slowly like any good progressive sound and this pushing faster and faster along with the bass rolling a good riff and the drum of Mike always crushing down the beat with so much energy. After the Petrucci part, Portnoy and Rudess (on keyboard) do an awesome fighting of drums vs the keyboard. One of my favorite part is the one with the cow bells it is really impressive to see and hear how they keep the thing together!

Then, after Beyond This Life, there is Hollow Years with some add-ons with Petrucci playing a little solo of his own and a more classical style of sound of guitar at the opening of it. Following that, there is War Inside My Head/The Test That Stumped Them All. Those tracks are well played on scene and there is a strong energy going out of it. It goes on with Endless Sacrifice, a ToT track, well play just like if they were on studio. The Instrumendly is an impressive tracks where Portnoy, Myung, Petrucci and Rudess are playing parts of instrumental songs all together in a happy-mixing. Everytime the listener is there trying to find what tracks they are playing and then it switch to another one. The main tracks of this song which the other parts are mix together is flowing music is The Dance of Eternity. Two of my favorite parts of this unique track are the Metropolis solos and the YTSE JAM part!
Then there is the Trial of Tears, a long track that some could find more boring, but it is one of the few time that they play it live and for the true fans of DT, it is a good song. Then there is New Millennium, with the weird bass of Myung playing very difficult part and making a lot of tapping on this 12 strings type of bass. Then there is a good standing of Jordan Rudess making a solo of his own with strange sound and a classical part of piano as he likes to do. It is a good standing. It is followed with the track named Only a Matter of Time coming out of the first studio album of DT. People wanted to see how Labrie would do on this song that was not originaly sing by him. He does good, but lack some speed and he is always trying to catch his breath. The intrumental ending of this track that was add for the show is a very good review of the entire track at a fast speed.

Then it is the depressing track named Disappear. It is one of the missed track of this album. The music mixing is not awesome, but it is a though songs to play live. Sometime you don't even hear what Labrie is singing or the drum is too heavy to hear the keyboards very well as it should be. Maybe it will be better next time, and they must pratice it further to play it with the entire energy it should have! Then they make their come back with Pull Me Under which is there classic, always well played and impressive energy with the crowd which is one of the few times on the DVD. The final track is In The Name of God which is the final track of ToT too. Still a good DT sound just like if they were playing only with perfection the lines.

Along with the show itself, the DVD comes with donus material like a Japanese Documentary that was turned before the actual show where you can see each members explaining how they came to play in Budokan. It is one of the best documentary I have seen on DT.

So actually, if you want to buy a good DVD of Dream Theater or that you are a fan of prog-metal, you should actualy buy Live at Budokan. It is an unique and one of the best music DVD I have seen of my life along with some classic like "Rock in Rio" from Iron Maiden! 95% for this live DVD!


f4c30fd34th, October 9th, 2004

Holy shit. This DVD is close to perfection. The selection of songs is perfect- it has the best songs from ToT (seeing as how that's what album the tour was for), and excludes the not so good ones; and the other songs are very well chosen, spanning all of DT's discography. It started with As I Am and This Dying SOul, and then Beyond This Life. The Zappa tribute jam in Beyond This Life features some godly soloage from JP, and an awesome duel between MP and JR; after BYL is Hollow Years, a wonderful FII ballad. The Test That Stumped Them All is played at a shockingly faster pace than the album version (which as already pretty fast). The Instrumedley WILL make you crap your pants. 14 minutes of various sections of DT's various instrumentals, including parts of 2 LTE songs (Paradigm Shift and Universal Mind) bound seamlessly together by The Dance Of Eternity. Some of the transitions bwteen songs are so perfect that it seems like they were meant to be that way. The intro to Trial Of Tears is extended into an amazing ambient section, and the rest of the song is of course awesome, particularly JP's solo. New Millenium is there with JM playing his Chapman Stick- which of course is quite Myung-core. JR has a nice solo section to himself, which starts with some fast (and awesome) wankery, and then a well written piano composition. Next up is Only A Matter Of Time- a classic WDADU song, which sounds awesome with James on vocals. Next up is Goodnight Kiss- holy crap, the feeling of the last solo is incredible live. Solitary Shell provides a brief rest with it's lightheartedness, but that is quickly replaced by more technical perfection with Stream Of Consciousness. Following that is Disappear, and the classic Pull Me Under. For the encore is In The Name Of God, which is way more powerful than the album version, very awe-inspiring.
The video quality is amazing, and looks close to high definition (well, at least on my HD TV). The camera angles are very well done, and provide an atmosphere of a film.There are some very impressive angles, one of my favorite is when the camera shows a view from the side of JM, looking across to JP, while the focus of the camera switches from JM to JP and back to JM. The sound is delivered in some very good Dolby Digital.
The crowd in this show is amazing. Apparently, in Japanese culture, a concetr is a very formal event, such as going to an symphony or opera. Many of the audience members are wearing suits. They are a great audience- they stand sitll when they need to, move around when they should, clap at the right times, and most importantly, stay quiet except at the end of a song, or the end of an awesome solo.
The second DVD contains lots of extra features such as documentaries, a drum solo and a multiangle version of instrumedley- good stuff.