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Dream Theater - New York City 3/4/93 CD (album) cover

NEW YORK CITY 3/4/93

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.57 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pekka
4 stars This here is something of a Holy Grail for the early DT fan. A complete show from the Images & Words tour, before Kevin Moore left the band, before James LaBrie busted his voice for years, and before they finished writing a certain song that is arguably (argued by me) their single crowning achievement, and instead played it as a work-in-progress version.

The more I listen to Images & Words and the rest of their output, the clearer it becomes that it stands head and shoulders above the rest of their full length albums. The reason most likely is that because of the label problems and the frustratingly unfruitful search for a new vocalist they had years and years time to hone the material, making it extremely colourful and sophisticated. Pure instrumental magic, and when they did in the end find their vocalist, he fit the material perfectly.

Recorded at home turf slightly before the Marquee show, the band in general are in good shape, if that's a surprise to anyone. There actually are some rare sloppier moments and plain fuck-ups, like in the beginning of Take the Time when Moore misses his cue, but they're quite few and far between. The setlist is obviously mostly excellent given the album they were promoting, and a couple of future B-sides make an appearance as well. Detracting from the excellence is The Killing Hand, which could've been replaced by four or five better tracks from the debut album, and the less said about the drum solo interrupting The Ytse Jam the better.

LaBrie isn't having his strongest night here. Far too often he ends up wobbling somewhere around the correct pitch even in lower registers (in all fairness that's probably due to monitor problems rather than lack of skill, but for the listener it makes very little difference), and when his tour-strained range is not enough for the higher notes, he usually resorts to a croaking, ugly falsetto. But what he missed in accuracy he surprisingly well makes up in raw, gutsy delivery, and while he may at times come off as a slightly feminine choirboy with no real threat to his snarl, here he manages to be quite convincing. The chorus of Pull Me Under is my favourite example of this.

Historically the most interesting song is obviously the halfway-there-version of A Change of Seasons. And I say it was very very wise of them to leave it on the shelf for a few years. The structure of the song is very much ready, but the intro would be fleshed out a couple of minutes worth, a lot of the lyrics would be reworked, vocal arrangements would go through a lot of refining, and some soloing sections would be completely replaced. It might me just the force of habit of listening to the final version, but I'm still going to say that every single change they made was for the better, and this version is valuable mostly for being historically interesting.

When you see the word "bootleg", the first question is obviously the sound quality. And as far as bootlegs go, official or not, this one is rather a good one. A quite clear soundboard recording, with some variance in quality. Most of the time the instruments are well in balance, but at times it may feel difficult to find Petrucci in the mix. But most of the time it's fine.

If you have a choice betweeen Live at the Marquee and this one, don't hesitate to spend a few extra bucks, euros, what have you. The slightly inferior sound and performance quality are made up in the extensive set list. This is a very good live album.

(Star rating rounded up from the three and a half originally given at MMA)

Pekka | 4/5 |

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