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Dream Theater - Dark Side Of The Moon CD (album) cover

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.92 | 108 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Don't make the mistake of writing this one off!

To those who are rolling their eyes at the thought of this DVD, I scream passionately to your mind's ear: do NOT hang up! Read on! As some of you have figured out I have a fairly cynical worldview myself and the thought of watching this DVD seemed not only sacrilegious but also like taking any credibility I have here as a reviewer to the edge of the cliff, and giving it a swift kick off the edge. For all of the abuse that this band takes on this website, some of it warranted and some of it not, they have taken on a challenge here that could not be more fraught with pitfalls and they have delivered huge.

Not only does this work, it is f***ing phenomenal. Among the many obstacles to performing a complete version of DSOTM live was the absolute most critical one: they would have to do a faithful version of the album in a reverent manner while at the same time making it something more alive than what fans can get by just going to the local Floyd laser spectacular or watching the Aussie Floyd on TV. Dream Theater have walked this tightrope without a net, they have actually bound across it carrying a tray of martinis on each arm. They are as reverent as can be arranging each track with clear love to the original. They resist the urge to bust out of the Floyd mood into DT muscle territory and tear it up, an urge that is visibly apparent in Portnoy as he valiantly restrains himself to the level of Nick Mason drumming (well, mostly.more on that later.) The second half of their magic trick is that while the performance is reverent to the material, the band and guests exude so much sincere passion in their playing/singing that it fills the show with a life and freshness sure to convert any young people to the power of this music made decades before they were born. They manage to convey power, poignancy, excitement and the various emotions of the music. Perhaps they take music that is about madness and death to a place that is more "happy" than it should be, but I think that is more a by-product of their natural excitement of being able to play this music to a packed Hammersmith Odeon. I'm sure it was quite a rush even for a big time band.

Highlights? Well, the entire show really. But "Time" is especially nice with Petrucci showing he understands the warm glow of Gilmour's vibrant lead guitar. "The Great Gig in the Sky" proves that Theresa Thomason is capable of doing the most impressive rendition of the legendary Clare Torry vocal that I've ever heard, she literally brought a lump to my throat and shivers down my spine with her joy and command of the vocal. She was not intimidated for a second and she did a more emotional version than the Floyd camps recent live versions where they sometimes feel the need to employ up to three vocalists to cover this song. "Money" was as driving as could be with Roger Water's own Norbert Stachel just totally killing the saxophone parts. My favorite though was the heated jamming that broke through a bit on "Any Colour You Like." They really rock here and I laughed as Portnoy finally gives in, just a bit mind you, to the temptation to spike the fills with a bit of his own juice. Petrucci too to a lesser extent, and both lads quickly reign it in and hold the mood to the material. The ending is as spectacular and emotional as is should be and you will feel utterly entertained and not the least bit ashamed of giving in to this guilty pleasure. Labrie has the most difficult task in that he has to sing parts that our brains associate with the distinctive vocals of Gilmour and Waters. It's not possible for him to replicate but he does a fine job of using his own voice to document the songs, tempering his sometimes showboating style of performance substantially. Jordan was notable both for recreating the many sound effects and for his care filled touch assuming Rick Wright's contemplative keyboards.

Trust me, the fun you'll have watching this, especially if you party a bit first, will far outweigh dealing with the abuse some of your purist prog friends may heap on you for buying a Dream Theater cover show. It's really a 5-star performance that gets a 4 from me because I'm tight with my stars and can't conceive of 5 stars for a cover release. That said, I can not give a higher recommendation to fans of Dark Side to pick this up. It is SO much fun to hear. Bonuses include an amusing interview with Portnoy where he hints at the torture of restraining himself, and bonus tracks which are considerably less awesome older covers of single Floyd tracks from different shows. Portnoy explains that they chose this album because The Wall (his personal favorite, good taste Mike!) would be simply far too much for the band and the audience to absorb. He comments on how this album would bore some of the metal fans and how Master of Puppets may have pissed off the prog fans, and that ultimately they couldn't please everyone so they just went with their gut. I have had my issues with accepting Dream Theater in the past and this release has done much to win me over. It has done so by showing me just how much these guys love music and how unpretentious their approach was. Like Portnoy exclaims, this is Dark Side, best not to f**k with it too much.

More than anything, this first class presentation illustrates the power and timelessness of Pink Floyd. They have succeeded in creating a work that not only inspires today's bands to pay homage but that succeeds in delivering an emotional experience to people not even born when the music was written. Very few of today's "flavor of the month" bands will be having another group perform one of their albums 40 years from now to a rapt audience hanging on every note. Their music has transcended themselves, their band's personal setbacks, and the selfish ego wars of the Waters and Gilmour camps. That is as big a tribute to the men in Pink Floyd as they could possibly receive.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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