Dream Theater - Live At Budokan
Progressive Metal
19 songs (172:34)
Release year: 2004
Dream Theater, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Archive review
Rummaging through the archives I noted that egads, at least one of Dream Theater’s prized DVD-sets is not yet reviewed here at Metalreviews. This looked like a job for…prognerditis!!

Recorded on the tour supporting DT’s arguably heaviest album, Train Of Thought, this two disc set is a pretty damn filling display of the band’s state and power at that time. If the mere notion that this concert took place at the legendary Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan doesn’t color you impressed from the get go, you should go at the very least googling for a moment right now. Should you know, you know. The local crowd packing the house displays that classic Japanese form of being respectfully subdued (well yeah, headbanging swaths abound here and there) during most of the songs and then erupting fully in between. Great crowd reactions overall, that really bring the live atmosphere through the screen.

As expected, the band is in fine form, blazing through a downright exhausting set with seeming ease. I mean seriously. While it’s a surprise to no one how instrumentally adept these guys are, watching and listening to nearly 3 hours of material like this leaves me occasionally gasping, the most furious instrumental passages just acting like an oddly pleasurable punch to the gut which takes your wind completely out due to the awe. Speaking of which, the often-maligned-for-his-live-inconsistency singer James LaBrie is in fine form too, hitting the notes and emoting very nicely. Cool interaction between him and guitarist John Petrucci too when LaBrie seemingly accidentally trips and tumbles onto his back mid-song, Petrucci just follows him down to lay on the stage for a second and not miss a note on the guitar while doing so. So yeah, these guys aren’t taking it so hurrrrdurrrr seriously either.

The setlist on the Budokan show (covering disc 1) is as follows:

- As I Am
- This Dying Soul
- Beyond This Life
- Hollow Years
- War Inside My Head
- The Test That Stumped Them All
- Endless Sacrifice
- Instrumedley
- Trial of Tears
- New Millennium
- Keyboard solo
- Only a Matter of Time
- Goodnight Kiss
- Solitary Shell
- Stream of Consciousness
- Disappear
- Pull Me Under
- In the Name of God

As one can see, heavy emphasis on Train Of Thought and the album that preceded it, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. Only A Matter Of Time from the group’s debut is a cool touch and the Instrumedley is a really neat package jam that is built around possibly the band’s most insane concoction of time signature changes, Dance Of Eternity, but also runs through a whole slew of riffs and snippets from other songs ranging from Erotomania to Ytse Jam and hell, even some passages from the realm of Liquid Tension Experiment (the band/wizard assembly of Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, drummer Mike Portnoy and renowned bassist Tony Levin). Hardcore fans have surely had a fun time nailing all the different parts played here. The sound quality of the recording is really solid and the camera work is very strong and varied, showing off adequate amounts of the crowd too.

Disc 2 then is a nifty smattering of bonuses. Guitar and keyboard freaks should get a kick out of Petrucci’s and Rudess’ respective “Instrument World” segments, where they run through their live rig and talk about some on stage-procedures as well. "Riding The Train Of Thought" is a half hour tour documentary bit that shows many different backstage and out-in-the-town moments with the guys that are good for a few viewings but nothing über-special. Portnoy’s separate drum solo-recording from their show in Osaka is cool for the elongated structure where Mike also gets a few fans on stage to play rhythms with him. Seems that this same longer solo interaction section wasn’t included on the show in Tokyo due to a stricter curfew, so it makes the Osaka-bonus pretty cool.

Wrapping up the second disc we first have “The Dream Theater Chronicles”-video that seemed to open every show on this tour and it’s a really cool package, running down the band’s history with pictures and appropriate musical breaks. Second and finally, there is a delight for all the dire cases of instrumentalism and amateur nerds of guitar/bass/drums/keyboards – A multiangle recording of the Instrumedley from the Budokan show where you can choose to follow either Petrucci, Portnoy, Rudess or ever-zen-like bassist John Myung through the entire song. Very nerdy but very neat.

All in all, this is a pretty cool double DVD set. If any gripes come to me in silly retrospect, it’s a classic setlist issue, mainly the inclusion of three full songs being played from Falling Into Infinity (and none of them being the sublime Lines In The Sand) while there is only one from Images and Words and, sigh of all sighs, none from Awake. Too bad. But aside from this personal tidbit, this a very nice addition to the audiovisual canon of Dream Theater which works both as a great introduction to this phase of their career and also as a memento to the more well-versed fan.

Killing Songs :
As I Am, This Dying Soul, Beyond This Life, War Inside My Head, The Test That Stumped Them All, New Millenium (yeah, admittedly it's killer after all), Only A Matter Of Time, Goodnight Kiss, Solitary Shell and Pull Me Under
Aleksie quoted no quote
Other albums by Dream Theater that we have reviewed:
Dream Theater - A View From the Top of the World reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Dream Theater - Distance Over Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Dream Theater - Dream Theater reviewed by Rob and quoted 79 / 100
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events reviewed by Crash and quoted 73 / 100
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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