August 30, 2006

Music DVD Review: Dream Theater - Score

I still remember the first time I heard Dream Theater, it was around the time that Images and Words was released, way back in 1992. At the time we still had a good hard rock/metal station, and they had "Pull Me Under" in regular rotation. The song blew me away, and after I got myself a copy of that disk there was no turning back. I had never heard anything like them before, it was sort of like combining elements of Metallica and Yes and mutating into something altogether fresh. Now here we are, 14 years into my love of their music and an amazing 20 years into the lifetime of the band.

To celebrate their longevity, Dream Theater embarked on a worldwide tour. This concert was filmed in Radio City Music Hall on April 1, 2006, the final day of the tour. To say that this was an amazing concert would be an understatement. This is a group of world class musicians at the top of their game, putting it all on the stage for the love of the music and the enjoyment of the fans.

The show is split into two sets. The first set is the band tearing through 8 songs, selected from their entire catalog. The first set runs an hour in length, and is just a joy to listen to. The second ups the ante by adding a full orchestra behind them, and proceeding to play for another hour and 40 minutes. This set is comprised of 6 songs, including "Six Degees of Inner Turbulence" in its entirety.

There is very little that I can say about Dream Theater that has not already been said. Everyone knows that they are the leaders of the prog rock scene. Everyone knows that each member is a world class musician at their instrument of choice. Everyone knows that when they go onstage, they are going to lay it all out. Score does not disappoint in any respect.

Show is shot and edited beautifully. One thing that has always annoyed me in a number of concert DVD's is they use of quick cuts. Iron Maiden is the biggest offender, the cuts are so frequent that you never really get to see what they are doing. This disk is not like that. All of the band members get good screen time. Many segments allow you to get in tight and see what they are doing, Petrucci's fret hand, Portnoy's stick work, Rudess' fingerwork. It is simply amazing to watch them work.

Score shows a band that meshes so well. Five men, all instrumental virtuosos coming together and putting out a wonderful concert. Then, the addition of the Octavarium Orchestra just adds a wonderful new dimension. The sound just gets completely filled out with beautiful textures.

The highlights of the show would have to be the songs from the mid-90s era. Specifically, "Under a Glass Moon" and "Innocence Faded" from set one, and the show closer, "Metropolis" from the second set. They are the songs I know the best, but that is not to take away from anything else here, as it is mesmerizing from start to finish.

This set is more than just a concert, there is a second disk filled with more footage. The centerpiece of disk two is a documentary that runs for nearly an hour, The Score So Far.... This is a must watch for any fan of Dream Theater. It traces the bands origins from the first meetings between John Petrucci and John Myung, and then the addition of Mike Portnoy. They even have a new interview with Charlie Dominici, the band's second singer, and the one who appeared on their debut album, When Dream and Day Unite. This is a wonderful look into the history of the band spanning two decades.

Also on the second disk are three live recordings, "Another Day" from Tokyo in 1993, "The Great Debate" from Bucharest in 2002, and "Honor Thy Father" from Chicago 2005. Rounding out the disk is the band animation used during "Octavarium," it runs a little over two minutes.

The concert was also released as a three CD set, which sounds just as good as this DVD.

Bottomline. Great band, great concert, must haave music lovers everywhere. What are you waiting for? Go get it!

Highly Recommended.
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