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Dream Theater - Once in a Livetime CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.34 | 411 ratings

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2 stars Once in a Livetime is the second official live album from Dream Theater. It was recorded during the tour for Falling Into Infinity and has songs from both Images & Words, Awake, Falling Into Infinity, an excerpt from A Change of Seasons, Ytse Jam from the debut and solo performances from both Derek Sherinian, Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci.

I saw Dream Theater live in KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark on this tour and Once in a Livetime is an authentic testimony to how they sounded on that tour IMO. I had witnessed Dream Theater on the Awake tour a couple of years before and I remember that I was very excited about seing them again even though I was a bit disappointed about Falling Into Infinity. Vanden Plas came on as the first band and then Dream Theater started playing. It became a long and trying night for me. All of the things that annoyed me that night are unfortunately also present here on Once in a Livetime but in some ways thatīs alright as it really shows us how Dream Theater is live.

The song selection is very good even though there are far too many songs from the mediocre Falling Into Infinity ( And where is New Millennium ?). Songs like Take The Time, Voices and Scarred are among my favorites from the band while I could have lived without Hollow Years and Take Away My Pain. The guitar, keyboard and drum solos are not to my liking either. The decision to split A Change of Seasons and only play a few parts from it is also a bad one IMO. Itīs one long epic track. Donīt mess with that. The idea to make a medley of some of the songs from Images & Words also annoy me. I want to hear whole songs not excerpts.

Now the song selection on a live album is always up for discussion but what isnīt is the quality of the performance. Iīm very disappointed by the performance as I was when I attended the concert in Copenhagen. First of all let me state this: James LaBrie is not a very accomplished singer in a live environment. His voice is weak, he canīt hit the right notes and his attempts at changing the melody falls out very unfortunate which means that some of the melodies sound totally out of tune. Sometimes it seems that he is out of breath and he cuts the words short. It seems that he spends too much time running around on the stage like a real rock star instead of concentrating on his singing. Now I witnessed another one of the great progressive metal bands from the nineties Fates Warning when they warmed up for Dream Theater on the Awake tour and even though Ray Alderīs stage presence can seem a bit introvert the man sings like a dream. Not one error and with great emotion in every word and phrase. James LaBrie could learn something there. He is a total disaster on Once in a Livetime and really drags the album down more than neccessary.

Secondly there are the backing vocals from Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci which they started performing live on this tour. Out of tune and below standard. Need I say more ?

As a last thing I would like to say this: I greatly admire Mike Portnoy and generally consider him to be one of the best drummers in the world but his live performances are way too playful and sometimes interfere with both melody lines and other fixpoints in the music which means that the songs donīt always seem as tight as they should. I know some people consider this to be great and challenging but it annoys me.

The musicianship besides James LaBrieīs performance is excellent, but sometimes it sounds like five musicians playing without listening to the others and itīs confusing and not very impressive. So each musician knows his tricks but the interplay isnīt that exciting.

The production isnīt too well done either. The keyboards are too loud and itīs just not a very good sound that they have chosen.

Disappointing is the word that comes to mind after listening to this live album. For me this is a 2 star album. I simply cannot give this album more than that. I hope others enjoy this more than me but I canīt recommend it.

UMUR | 2/5 |


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