Sound: Dream Theater, one of the biggest names in the modern realm of Progressive Rock/Metal, have become quite an icon to many aspiring musicians all around the world. 5 members, each representing near godlike ability on their respective positions, capable of performing incredibly technical compositions up to 42 minutes in length. To keep going strong more than 20 years in is an amazing accomplishment for any band, but if anything Dream Theater show on this DVD that they have only improved with age.
The band has simply never been better since their Images and Words days. The Guitar and Keyboard Wizardry of John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess never ceases to amaze me, and "Iron Mike Portnoy" is just a machine on the good 'ol pots and pans. John Myung, the most overlooked member of the band, gives some great bass work, especially on the intro to Panic Attack. James Labrie puts on a good show overall considering he's pushing 50 right about now. There are a couple parts where his singing could make you cringe (the chorus to Blind Faith, the second verse of Surrounded, etc.) but on some songs, especially the ones from Systematic Chaos, he soars. // 9
Content: The first disc, fittingly entitled "Around the World in 180 Minutes", features a plethora of live performances from several different venues around the world. Here is the Setlist:
01. Intro/Also Sprach Zarathustra: that old theme we all know from 2001: A Space Oddessy. One of the most epic introductions to any concert I've ever seen.
02. Constant Motion: great metal song. Very Megadeth-like. Perfect choice for an opener. Better than the studio version.
03. Panic Attack: heaviest song from Octavarium. Starts with some awesome bass shredding from John Myung. Again, possibly better than the album.
04. Blind Faith: one of my favorite songs from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. (besides SDOIT itself of course!) Jordan absolutely shreds on this one. James' singing is a little off though.
05. Surrounded: this one is a real treat. Extended intro, solo, and of course the addition of a much longer outro. Petrucci even plays the solo to Pink Floyd's "Mother" at one point. On the downside, this is the one part of the DVD where I'd say James sounds genuenly bad.
06. The Dark Eternal Night: I never really cared for this song on the album, but I love this live version! Really edgy vocals, and the guitar work is so heavy. Not sure how I feel about the whole cartoon Dream Theater scene up on the screen during the solo, but hey, at least it gave me a pretty good chuckle!
07. Jordan Rudess Keyboard Solo: we see Rudess messing around with the Continnum Fingerboard and his cool Keytar, though like the first half of his solo at Budokan it lacks the musicality I tend to expect from Jordan such as on his Live Scenes from New York solo and ultimately boils down to him just playing random notes and expecting it to sound great.
08. Lines In The Sand: great song from Falling Into Infinity. One of my personal favorites on the DVD. Not much else to say here.
09. Scarred: Tied with Space Dye-Vest for my favorite song on Awake. The extended blues solo at the beginning is pure bliss to the ears. James sounds a little frantic here though, and I wonder why Portnoy or Petrucci don't do backup vocals during the "Blood heal me..." part.
10. Forsaken: love this song, and this is a great live performance. That's all.
11. The Ministry of Lost Souls: PERFECTION. This one sounds so much like the album it's not even funny. Even James sounds spot on. The final solo Petrucci does almost brings me to tears. Definately one of the best on the DVD.
12. Take The Time: again, fantastic song, fantastic performance. The outro on this one is just so powerful. Only downside is they skipped the second verse. Guess they figured James was getting too old to hit that high section.
13. In The Presence Of Enemies: parts 1 and 2 from start to finish. This one is worth the entire price of the DVD alone!
14. Schmedley Wilcox: like the Instrumedley but with lyrics. Starts as Trial of Tears (Petrucci even plays part of Eruption in the beginning!) becomes Finally Free, then goes into Learning to Live, an even heavier version of In the Name of God, and finishes up with the Razors Edge from Octavarium. You just gotta see this one.
In addition, there are a couple videos of Progressive Nation '08 thrown in, including a massive Drum solo with Portnoy and the Drummers of the other 4 bands pounding away at Mikes Drumset, and a live clip of Repentence with Michael from Opeth on vocals!
Disc Two features "Behind the Chaos on the Road", a 90 minute documentary exploring the band, stage crew, and whatever goes on behind the scenes. It also includes the full music videos for Constant Motion and Forsaken, as well as studio footage of Forsaken and The Dark Eternal Night, and even the Live-Screen Projection Films used during Dark Eternal, Ministry, and Enemies. Mike also shows you around on stage and back stage, plus a cool photo gallery. This DVD has so much stuff it's not even funny! // 10
Production Quality: It should be noted that this Live Release is radically different than anything Dream Theater has done before. Whereas all of the band's previous releases included studio mixing to make everything sound crisp and clear, the audio here is completely raw and unaltered. Upon hearing the performances however, it is immediately clear none of this studio work is required nor necessary for such a tight live act. The camera angles are also very odd, and at times seem somewhat unprofessional, staying in one place for far too long or not getting close enough to the band. To be completely honest this seemingly sub-par camera work, while at first dissapointing, has a rather unique charm to it, as though you are watching a bootleg or even prying into Mike Portnoy's personal collection of recorded performances rather than viewing an official live release.
In between every 2 or so songs, the camera switches to either an interview with a band member or some behind the scenes footage. This unfortunately breaks up the flow of music for me, and makes it feel like I'm watching a VH1 special rather than a true Dream Theater concert. I feel that these behind the scenes portions could have been saved for disc two, but they don't hinder the experience much. These minor flaws are just a small chink in the golden armor and by no means damage the experience, but fans of Live at Budokan or Score may be dissapointed. // 7
Overall Impression: If you are a die-hard Dream Theater fan, I suggest you go out and find this DVD right now. It is by no means perfect, but it will last you a long time and give you plenty of entertainment. If you are new to Dream Theater, I would suggest picking up either Live Scenes from New York or Live at Budokan first, and then buying this. That way you will aquire a much more well rounded knowledge of the band, and you will be able to fully appreciate this or Score. If it were lost or stolen I would definately buy it again. Great DVD, Great Band. // 9