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Dream Theater

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Dream Theater Once in a Livetime album cover
3.41 | 424 ratings | 20 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (76:23)
1. A Change of Seasons I: The Crimson Sunrise (3:57)
2. A Change of Seasons II: Innocence (3:06)
3. Puppies on Acid (1:25)
4. Just Let Me Breathe (5:54)
5. Voices (10:35)
6. Take the Time (12:21)
7. Derek Sherinian Piano Solo (1:55)
8. Lines in the Sand (13:14)
9. Scarred (9:28)
10. A Change of Seasons IV: The Darkest of Winters (3:18)
11. YTSE Jam (4:10)
12. Mike Portnoy Drum Solo (7:00)

CD 2 (78:09)
1. Trial of Tears (14:12) :
- i. It's Raining
- ii. Deep in Heaven
- iii. The Wasteland
2. Hollow Years (7:02)
3. Take Away My Pain (6:17)
4. Caught in a Web (5:17)
5. Lie (6:46)
6. Peruvian Skies (7:51)
7. John Petrucci Guitar Solo (8:07)
8. Pull Me Under (8:16)
9. Metropolis (6:17)
10. Learning to Live (4:14)
11. A Change of Seasons VII: The Crimson Sunset (3:50)

Total Time 154:32

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / vocals, percussion
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums & percussion, vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars
- Derek Sherinian / keyboards

- Jay Beckenstein (Spyro Gyra) / alto saxophone on "Take Away My Pain"

Releases information

Eastwest #7559-62308-2

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DREAM THEATER Once in a Livetime ratings distribution

(424 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

DREAM THEATER Once in a Livetime reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by penguindf12
1 stars My brother happened to have this CD before I had even heard of Dream Theater. I listened to this over and over and tried to like them, but I couldn't get into it. It's far too "metal" for my tastes, with little of what makes "progressive" music great. A personal preference, of course...

The songs are very loud and distorted. Even the really good studio songs are horribly mutated into something unlistenable. If you really want to enjoy Dream Theater and you are not a huge metal fan, buy the studio versions instead. These versions make my head spin, it used to make me want to throw up when I listened to them on headphones.

To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of Dream Theater in general. I wrote most of this review when I was a kid - 15 years old - and nowadays I really only enjoy parts of "Scenes from a Memory" and bits of "Inner Turbulence." So perhaps if you enjoy live albums and heavy metal more than I do, you would enjoy this - but I don't at all.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded during the "Touring Into Infinity" tour and released the year after. This is a very solid live album with overall good song selections from both "Falling Into Infinity" and Dream Theater's earlier releases. Here we also see that new keyboardist Derek Sherinian works well with the band live, and that the rest of the band works well together on stage. However, this one has it's low points too, for example the sound quality could have been better, it sounds rather muddy and lacking at times and ruins the songs a bit. Also, vocalist James LaBrie sounds awful here at times, like missing notes and husky vocals, which is strongly notable at times. But except for that, this is highly recommended for fans, though newcomers to the band should start with "Live at the Marquee" or "Live at Budokan" first.
Review by imoeng
4 stars Once In A Livetime

The live album was released in 1998, from the concert in Bataclan, France. At that time, the keyboardist is still Derek Sherinian, but shortly after this album was released, he was replaced by Jordan Rudess. Once again, a great concert with virtuosos from different instruments, but what a shame, James LaBrie did it again. In my opinion, he is a truly great singer in the studio which can he hear from the studio album, great vocal. However, in every concert I have heard, he sang quite-not-so-good and I don't know why. : )

Anyway, the coolest thing about the concert is there is a song A Change Of Season, but was divided into parts (the original parts) spread throughout the concert, without the third, fifth and seventh part, Carpe Diem, Another World and The Inevitable Summer respectively.

The concert started with recorded A Change Of Season I, The Crimson Sunrise. Mike Portnoy clarified in his website that it was recorded not because the issue of "not-able- to-play", but just to create an effect that will also help them entering the stage. Next, followed by heavy guitar riff and improvised keyboard line of The Crimson Sunrise. After that, Dream Theater played their songs from Images And Words, Awake, Falling Into Infinity and A Change Of Season. In the concert, there were three solos, guitar, drum and keyboard solo. Also, just like every other concert, John Myung never plays solo, don't know why. John Petrucci guitar solo is just amazing, truly a virtuoso, and at some parts, he played very nice tones which is very rare to played in a solo. Oh yeah! He also played Paradigm Shift from Liquid Tension Experiment, which is an irony, the made Derek Sherinian replaced.

Dream Theater often placed other musician's riff just like when they played Master Of Puppets and other Metallica's riff into a song in Train Of Thought. This time, they did it again, they put Metallica's Enter Sandman and Pink Floyd's Have A Cigar into Peruvian Skies, which is used to be a somewhat mellow song. Also, the end of the song Take The Time contains the outro solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird and the guitar riff from Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick. The concert then was ended with A Change Of Season VII, The Crimson Sunrise, a very nice ending.

I give 4 stars because of the great concert (from what I heard from the CD!!), but again, James LaBrie was not consistent in his vocal performance throughout the concert.

Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So after Dream Theater's somewhat underwhelming effort Falling Into Infinity, they did the subsequent tour which would have them playing all over the world and in a variety of festivals and other unique types of occasions. This live album, taped in Paris on what would be the last show of the tour (and Derek Sherinian's last show with Dream Theater). This album would also show Dream Theater at their most fun with little bits of cover songs coming into play during select pieces (and I'll get to those when the time comes around). Now the set played here is a nice balance of the newer Falling Into Infinity material and some old classics, add in a couple of individual member solos and you have yourself in a brief word this live album.

The first disc opens with the first two sections of A Change of Seasons before going into Puppies on Acid (which is the main riff to the song The Mirror before the vocals come in). The first song that gets a real change is Take the Time, which is played note for note perfect until the end when they tag on the solo section to Lynyrd Skynyrd'sFree Bird and concludes with the riff to Led Zeppelin's drum epic Moby Dick. From these bits you can hear a band having a blast up on stage even if tensions were high (as Portnoy was really frustrated with what was going on and he almost quit the group). Derek Sherinian's Piano solo is actually just an introduction to Lines in the Sand, as he plays the main theme to the song on the grand piano before moving onto the synthesizers. Lines in the Sand is spectacular on this album, with some great performances from everyone, including LaBrie (who is hit and miss on this album). In the middle of the Ytse Jam Portnoy gets a drum solo, which isn't really that engaging or exciting, but it shows Mike's skills pretty nicely to say the least.

The second disc opens with a great rendition of Trial of Tears and then the set turns to an acoustic section that has Hollow Years and Take Away My Pain (the latter of which is one of the only two songs that Myung plays stick on). The acoustic songs are played nicely, although the mix here is a little bit underwhelming. Of the second disc, other things worth mentioning are Peruvian Skies, which has sections of Pink Floyd's Have a Cigar in the beginning and sections of Metallica's Enter Sandman towards the end (it's amazing how well both of those songs fit into the piece itself). It segues into John Petrucci's guitar solo, which has him playing everything from The Flight of the Bumblebee to Paradigm Shift (with Portnoy on drums, respectively) before going into a rousing version of Pull Me Under. The finale to the album is a three part medley that combines Metropolis Part 1 with Learning to Live and The Crimson Sunset section of A Change of Seasons. In all, Dream Theater were never a medley type group (and you can hear John Petrucci's sentiments on medleys in general in the commentary for the Once In a Livetime dvd, which is actually hilarious), but this isn't bad at all and is actually quite nice.

In the end, I think Dream Theater's Once in a Livetime is an excellent live album (as is the case with most Dream Theater live albums) that combines many different elements of the group's eclectic style and gives it a spin for the better. Their next live album, though, would ultimately be one of my absolute favorite live albums ever so that one, Live Scenes from New York, would be the best Dream Theater live album to begin with. This one, though, you shouldn't disappointed with. 4/5.

Review by richardh
3 stars As you would expect with the Dream Theater this is full of fast instrumental runs but is dragged down by James La Brie's forced vocals. The instrumental sections are worth 5/5 on their own as the band are in fine form but as soon as Jimmy starts singing its like fingernails on a blackboard to me.I just can't see myself playing this much because of the vocals sorry to say but as I've only listened to it once I'll hedge my bets.3/5
Review by ZowieZiggy

I am not very ethusisastic about this live album. Track list is not super that's the first thing. But to emasculate such a track as "A Change Of Seasons" should be prohibited ! Completely trussed up. A little part to open the show, some other parts a little later and a final one to close the concert. That's how "brilliant" it is represented here. Not a good idea, IMO.

This live recording really start with "Just Let Me Breathe" and its "The Mule" oriented intro (drumming is rather close as well during some sections). A bit (!) heavier than the original. Since it is the supporting for "Falling Into...", several songs will logically come out this album. It is probably not the one which is praised the most amongst "Dream Theater" fans but it did not sound bad to my ears.

Now, the second problem with this album lies in the interpretation of some songs. I have commented my view already upon "A Change", but this won't be a unique example, unfortunately. Several track features long and boring soli which should have been avoided. I know that this is a TM for "DT" concerts (and I will soon experience this since I am going to attend their concert in Antwerp early October this year).

This was a habit of the early seventies. Some drum solo, a guitar one and of course let's not forget the piano / keyboards. "The Who" and "Yes" adding even a bass solo (but Entwistle and Fish are fabulous in the genre, at least when you were able to WATCH them). Because the difference between watching and hearing is enourmous.

There are of course some very good songs played here, like "Voices" which displays all the facets of a great "DT" song. Melody, strong bass, even some more keys than usual. One of the few highlights. It is wonderfully followed by "Take The Time". Hesitant vocals to start but wonderful beat and some virtuosity from Petrucci.. Voilā. This is as much as we will get on this first CD.

The other "songs" will be pure self indulgence. The filiation with Purple concert is obvious in its concept. Not in the rendition. Because Sherinian is not Jon Lord. While you listen to his "solo" which is imediately combined with "Line In The Sand" you will know what I am talking about. Fully "Lazy" oriented (while played live of course). But IMO, these type of tracks are outdated. They belong to another generation (mine actually, but such a long time ago ...). The "Space Truckin"-like riff that one can hear at times (briefly, I admit) adds a special feeling about this song. Lots of virtuosity again, and a very much Gilmouresque (great) solo but the last four minutes are painful to bear.

Unfortunately, if you believe that things will improve on CD 2 you are wrong. Same stuff. But the feeling is getting worse because one has already been through the first part of the concert. A funny moment though while the band will play some "Have A Cigar" (Floyd) notes. "DT" has already released an "official bootleg" called "Uncovered" (1995) from which they took out several tracks featured on "A Change Of Seasons". "Floyd" was already covered with "In The Flesh" (much more to come of course...).

Most of their great tracks are not pleasantly performed. "Trial...", "Peruvian Skies", but more obviously during "Pull Me Under". It is one of my preferred "DT" song but not in this format, for sure. There will be an attempt to FEEL like "Led Zep" when "DT" plays two acoustic songs side by side; maybe to pastiche the acoustic set during "Led Zep's concerts. But LaBrie is not Robert Plant).

I really do not recommend this live album neither to "DT" fans nor to the casual one who would like to get acquainted with the band. They did already a better one in their early stage of their career ("Live At The Marquee", 1993) and will release their ultimate live album a little later. But these are other scenes...

Two stars.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars They'd have better livetimes

Following up their commercial flop, Falling Into Infinity, is one of the band's least beloved live albums. An unfortunate series, since this album does have some pretty fantastic moments. But let's face it, usually a commercial flop is not a good album to release your first (major) live album on, especially when a large amount of the material off the live album is from the studio album. Luckily for the fans, Dream Theater had already amassed a decent body of work going into this effort, so they were still able to fill two discs with quality material. A lot of fans may have wanted to see A Change of Seasons in it's entirety, being that it's often considered the band's masterpiece song in the progressive rock circles, but I think it's a case of ''happy with what you have to be happy with''. The album does suffer from a few things, but it's also got some pretty excellent moments, so let's dig right in.

A track by track analysis of a live album such as this would likely be one of the most redundant things I could do, so I'll spare the pain and get right into the good stuff, of which is plentiful on this album. There really are great moments on this album, which, if you're a fan, leave you thinking ''ooooh, coooool''. If you're not a fan you'd likely be saying ''oh, ho-hum'', but actually be thinking, ''okay, that was pretty cool''. Take for example the extended ending section of Take The Time where John Petrucci goes off on a long rock and roll rant with his guita - and was that Freebird mixed into the song?? Cool. Moving on. More tributes come in later on as well as the band opens Trial Of Tears with a very clear nod to Rush's Xanadu with Portnoy playing the opening percussion section, Petrucci bending his strings like Lerxt. More cool moments come in the form of the rendition of Peruvian Skies (arguably the best song from Falling into Infinity) when the already cool song becomes cooler as they manage to sneak seamlessly into Welcome To The Machine in the middle of the song, from there moving onto heavy riffs from Metallica's Enter Sandman, finally moving back into the original song. Prog fans be delighted!

More great moments come without the need to paying tribute. Sherinian's malicious Piano Solo is always a highlight, as is the blistering Petrucci Guitar Solo in which he even takes a crack at Flight Of The Bumblebee. Some may call them flashy or pretentious for doing stuff like that - but you gotta admit that it is pretty damn impressive. The band also offers up a great live version of one of their greatest compositions, Scarred, which flows seamlessly into section IV of A Change Of Seasons, and from there seamlessly again into the band's signature instrumental, The Yste Jam. Mike Portnoy gets to slam his drum solo right in the middle of ''The jam'' in a very Neal Peart-esque way, at the end of which the band concludes the song. More fan favorites appear like the MTV hit Pull Me Under and the always wonderful Caught In A Web and are delivered well.

But if there's one thing that really drags down this album - it's the sound quality. While it's certainly not in cohesive one can't help but think that the entire concert sounds a little bit... flat. And there are some moments where LaBrie either has trouble hitting his notes or just pulls into a Vince Neal ''just pretend to know the lyrics and shout out just the melody'' section, albeit not for very long periods of time. His voice on Voices (ironic, I know) is particularly ear jerking, whether it be the mix or who-knows-what, but it feels like the drums and the voice are competing with each other, and it makes for a painful experience, spoiling what should have been a standout song in the set.

Overall this is a very good effort. I wouldn't recommend it beyond fans, even if there are some really cool moments on it, because the band does have better live albums these days. Still, fans will certainly get a kick out of it, and it's a good place to go for people who have early material from the band and are hesitant about Falling Into Infinity, or fans of the later life of the band who want to check out the earlier material. This one is going to get 3 livetimes out of 5, a good disc, but don't feel bad about not buying it.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by jampa17
3 stars Luckily it happened only once in their career.

Well, this is maybe the worst live album of Dream Theater and is perfectly justified. James Labrie gave his worst effort, showing his vocals problems, screaming and trashing all the melodies, he just had too much trouble to reach the high notes during that years. Besides, is evident as well that the band was really passing a bad time, Petrucci sounds uninspired (he had stated that he "wasn't in the f*ckin mood" that night) and unfortunately for Sherinian, in his only and last chance to show his live skills, just cannot save this show, he did a good performance, but the shadow of bad luck was still over their heads. So, about the album:

There's a lot of material covering almost 2 and half hours of show. This was the first time DT did this kind of shows that later on become trademark of the band. The selection of songs was focused on songs of Awake and Falling into Infinity and the epic Change of Seasons split through the whole show. There's a lot of medleys and instrumental extended versions (maybe to help Labrie to rest a little). When I said extended versions I mean, a huge amount of improvisation and jamming around, especially in CD 1. There's a jamming at the end of Take The Time, another in Scarred, a keyboard solo and in between the instrumental YTSEjam there's a drum solo for about 8 minutes. So, if you are not that into jamming and prog-metal instrumental "show off", you won't enjoy this CD.

There's brief reference to another bands, like Pink Floyd, Metallica, Liquid Tension and Platypus in between their instrumental madness as well.

The CD 2 is better with a short unplugged segment which helps to relax a little after the billion of notes attack from the first CD. The ambient of the whole album is very moody and dark. The soft material is really worth to listen, and the crowd was with them through the whole journey. French people are loud man.

All in all, the quality of sound is great, crystal clear but the lack of inspiration and the instrumental section were too plain. Happened that I really enjoy this album, 'cause it remember me my teenage days and I feel really good hearing it. But for new fans of people not used to the DT catalogue, I advise to start in whatever other material but this one. This is too much to take in one sitting. So, it worth for the great songs and classics in there like Scarred, Take The Time, Trial of Tears and Peruvian Skies. Three stars is fair.

*Addition*: the cover art of this album is maybe the most controversial. During that time, a lot of fans were really mad because the trademark logo and letter style of the band were not there. The band didn't have control over the art and it really sucks, been honest. For some, this was the sign of DT selling out and betraying their fan base. But in the other hand, the music was there as always, so, they survived this bad era and they are still here with us, more than a decade after.

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars Once in a while I enjoy this live release

Dream Theater are well known for their impeccable live performances. They have also become known for their numerous live albums. Once in a LIVEtime is their second live release, and is in my opinion their worst. A two disc live album recorded at a festival in France in support of Falling Into Infinity, their (currently) least popular album. The songs on the album, although preformed well, are heavily protracted with slow openers and mini jam sessions. Although the performance is good, overall the album presents nothing that special to the listener, other than another live album to listen to. The instrumental spot solos awarded to Portnoy, Sherinian, and Petrucci are good, but can sound a bit choppy and unnecessary at times. In the end, the description of good, but non-essential is perfect for this live album. 3 stars.

Review by Wicket
5 stars One of the most electrifying and intriguing live shows DT ever recorded, and one of my favorites.

Getting this out of the way first, yes, the sound quality is not the best (hello, it's a live show for crying out loud!), and this was recorded after LaBrie's infamous food poisoning, pretty much ruining his wonderful falsetto and making diehard fans cringing the moment they realize he can't hit those high notes in "Take The Time" anymore. Still, for one of the few metal bands that master the jam tendencies and always find a way to make a boring show special, this will definitely pique your curiosity if you are thinking about buying this live record.

The show begins in dynamic fashion with the first two movements of their (at the time) recent epic "A Change Of Seasons". Already, the presence of Derek Sherinian differs from the playing style of former keyboardist Kevin Moore. While Moore was more of the symphonic type, Sherinian favored (and still does) that "wah-wah" sound that he used during his fills and is also the same sound that graces many (if not all) of his solo records.

Another interesting feature of DT's live performances is the way they interlock songs together so the sound like one fluid track. Indeed, not all of them are picture perfect, but the meshing of the first two ACOS movements to "Puppies In Acid" (the intro to "The Mirror") and their attempted radio hit "Just Let Me Breathe" is one of my favorites. That 3 chord riff in Puppies/Mirror just instigates a massive headbanging, along with the keys providing ample support and theatrics in the background. Yes, the segue to "Just let Me Breathe" is a bit abrupt, but I have no qualms, as the atmosphere at this point in Paris was probably electric and jumping. Yes, it's not the most famous of DT tracks (and Falling Into Infinity will forever be known as "the album made just to appease the record label because they wanted us to play music that sounds like s*** on the radio), but add in Petrucci's heavy riffing and I'm sold. Yes, I'm also a metalhead through and through.

"Voices" is another track that provides an insight on DT's jam tendencies. After a heavy chord, the music seems to fade into silence. With woodblock and percussion in the background and Myung noodling on the bass as always, along with Petrucci playing an atmospheric version of the Star Wars theme, the mood suddenly changes, and the track begins with Myung again on the bass. Seeing as the track is a part of the "A Mind Beside Itself" suite, it's a great way to make it a stand-alone track. It starts in in typical DT fashion, coupled with Petrucci's heavy, bone-crushing riffs and Portnoy's double bass before it all fades out to Sherinian and LaBrie's haunting "every Sunday morning" line that gives chills down [my] spine. It turns into a beautiful (dare I use that word, as a guy, I can't stand that word) track, and a wonderful version of it as well.

As stated previously, "Take The Time" in performances around this time (1998) aren't exactly the best simply because LaBrie can't hit those high notes anymore. It was interesting to hear Portnoy and Petrucci sing the first few lines before handing it off to LaBrie. The atmosphere building around this song is very impressive, and while some versions of good song such as these don't have as good a sound quality as, say, the studio version, there's more excitement and energy in live versions (not to mention the "Free Bird" excerpt at the end of this particular one, followed by the 10-second "Moby Dick" ditty) then the studio ones, which is why with certain DT tracks I prefer live versions rather than their studio counterparts.

Derek gets a minute and two to shine on a solo spot, reminiscent of some of his work with Platypus he would later work with when DT cut him from the lineup. The solo leads into "Lines In The Sand", even though he's still jamming a few minutes into the actual track. The intro starts very strongly (containing Sherinian's, er, "trade-mark" 'keyboard squeal', the only person I've heard it from, as Sherinian is the most "synth-y" of DT keyboardists to date). Again, it's another fantastic version of of one of their longer songs, and one of my favorites from "Falling Into Infinity".

Then comes the massive sequence "Scarred / A Change Of Seasons IV: The Darkest Of Winters / YTSE Jam / Mike Portnoy Drum Solo + YTSE Jam Reprise". Petrucci begins with a wonderful solo before Portnoy's subtle 3 sixteenth-note cymbal taps kick in. Once again the energy around this great track is fierce and electric, despite LaBrie trashing a few notes here and there, but it's good enough to listen through the whole track. The ensemble manages to keep the energy going through to "The Darkest Of Winters", which is one of my favorite parts of the "Change Of Seasons" suite. It's always interesting to hear the 3 solo spots near the end to see what the band comes up with (such as Myung's ditty in this particular version, or the Simpsons theme on the "Live Scenes From New York" show). This segues into "YTSE Jam", which really needs no introduction; it's just another great instrumental jam and one of the better tracks from "When Dream And Day Unite". That, coupled with a drum solo from Portnoy (which you can never go wrong with him) makes this a very nice sequence and one worth listening to over and over again.

That ends the first disc; which I will couple with this quick interlude; instead of waiting to review this disc fully at the end of this review, I will be quick to note that yes, LaBrie didn't exactly soar through this show without any problems. Yes, there were a few butchered notes and yes, he kinda thrashed through a few high notes, but the sound quality and the energy itself was enough to keep me entertained and the diversity of the setlist was another positive for me. Another thing people tend to complain about is the dissection of "A Change Of Seasons" throughout the entire setlist. I find it interesting because in the most challenging of instrumental sections that, through the band's jam tendencies, they are able to dissect bits and pieces of songs and reattach them from different songs and sections. From a listener's point of view, it seems trivial at best, but as a musician myself having attempted similar jams like this, I can say very easily that it is not the easiest thing in the world to play one song and then seamlessly groove into another beat or jam, so I always give major props to these guys for pulling stuff like that off.

Disc 2 begins with the somewhat-disappointing "Trial Of Tears". I hadn't really been the biggest fan of the track, but there just seems to be something lacking, which becomes evident in the next few tracks. This, along with "Hollow Years" and "Take Away My Pain" are the sappiest, least interesting tracks out of the entire album and, I'll admit it, back to back like this, it can easily put me to sleep. Then again, it does balance out the entire first disc which is loud, heavy and smash-you-face-in-a-brutal-car-accident kind of way. Yet, these songs are also off of, in my opinion, their most commercial album, and their worst one to date (behind WDADU, of course)

So, I'll say nothing more about them....

This live show is where one of my favorite recordings of "Caught In A Web" resides, flowing into "Lie", another good track, as well. Again, the flowing of one track to another without flaw, without falter continues to amaze me each and every time this band performs. That heaviness and omniscient sound from "Awake" is still there, except Sherinian continues to resort to that synth-y sound, whereas previous keyboardist Kevin Moore specialized in that dark, brooding, horror-sound. You could say that Sherinian butchers all the old songs, and that might be a good reason why he was dumped after only one album (on one of their worst yet).

One of my all-time favorite sequences in DT shows has to me the "Peruvian Skies > John Petrucci Guitar Solo > Pull Me Under" sequence. "Peruvian Skies" is one of the more likeable tunes off of "Falling Into Infinity". The first chorus leads to a "Have A Cigar" tease off of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (quite possibly their best record ever made), and a good tease at that, before the band segues back into the main riff. The energy from the crowd in the middle of the song is tremendous. If you can't start headbanging at this point, you're not a true DT fan. The seriousness from the studio albums is never reflected in the live shows. In fact, the band's attitude is more humorous is anything. You can tell at the end of the song how Petrucci changes his riffs from the Skies riff to Metallica's "Enter Sandman"'s famous chords. That of course leads to a guitar solo by the very man which, as all his solos are, "EPIC". It starts out serious enough, as the main goal is to shred every Frenchmen's face off in the entire city of Paris. Then he pokes fun at traditional songs, teasing the "Flight Of The Bumblebee" and even teasing Liquid Tension Experiment's "Paradigm Shift", with Portnoy backing him up (since both are in LTE). An epic solo like that can only be followed up with "Pull Me Under", which would've been a great way to end the show had the audience not ask for an encore.

Yet the final sequence of "Metropolis > Learning To Live > A Change Of Seasons: The Crimson Sunset" was the best way to end the show. The band managed to drag the audience through their FII songs (to promote the stupid thing) and finish the show with some (excerpts) of their best songs from "Images & Words", all culminating with the final movement of the "Change Of Seasons" suite and an electrifying mood from the crowd.

Positives: The variety of the setlist, the teases and solo in between and the excitement from the crowd really makes this a top-notch (and underrated) performance.

Negatives: LaBrie (occasionally) thrashes about on some of the higher-pitched notes, not to mention Sherinian is in this show (which is almost always a cause for concern; I've met few people that thought Sherinian was a good fit for DT at all)

Overall Verdict: I find this to be one of my favorite DT shows simply because it is out of the ordinary with the setlist, teasers and solo in between. Yes, I do have this behind "Budokan" and "Live Scenes In New York" respectively. If you love Dream Theater's more humorous and adventurous side, this is a must-have recording. If the (roughly) 7 notes LaBrie butchers in this entire show prevent you from listening to 2 seconds of this entire show, that's ok, too; you're just not a true DT fan. Yes, Budokan has the infamou "Instrumedley" and LSINY has the entire "Scenes From A Memory" album, along with the "A Mind Beside Itself" and "A Change Of Seasons" suite (along with LTE's "Acid Rain"), this is the next best live show. Get all three of these shows if you do not already have them. Now. Do it now. Go get them. Now.

I'm not kidding. Get these live shows. Now. Or you will never experience true happiness.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Dream Theater have made gargantuan live albums part of their schtick now, so it's weird to think the first of these was Once In a Livetime, since it captures the band at a rather unrepresentative moment in their history. After all, Falling Into Infinity is one of the less well-received albums - I think it's alright, but a clear stumble compared to the preceding three albums (and the Change of Seasons EP), and part of that was because the band were being tugged in different directions in a tug-of-war between commercial leanings and prog purism which would eventually resolve with the monster success of the Metropolis Part 2 concept album, where they demonstrated that they could do both at once.

What you end up getting here is a live album which certainly leans on the "metal" side of Dream Theater's prog metal equation, but the combination of its sheer length (two and a half hours!) and the nature of most of their back catalogue means that their prog chops end up being well-represented anyway. In addition, whilst the band might have needed to please studio executives in the studio, in the live context they were still throwing in a healthy dose of improvisation and soloing.

This is, of course, the main live album from Derek Sherinian's stint in the band, and hails from towards the end of his tour of duty. When he's on form and gelling with the rest of the band, his presence is certainly helpful in making the album stand out in the mountain of Dream Theater live output - after all, even if the band have gone over a lot of the same ground in later live releases, they haven't exactly included many Derek Sherinian keyboard solos on those.

At the same time, however, there's some spots where you start realising why Sherinian's time in the band just wasn't working out. There's a few too many moments where his keyboards are either a little overwhelmed by what the rest of the band is doing, or absolutely dominating everything, and he seems to struggle to find the sweet spot in between those extremes. It doesn't happen so often to derail things, but it happens just often enough that I notice it. Of course, it isn't necessarily clear whether this is the side effect of occasionally shaky sound quality - there's a mild fuzziness which creeps in at points on the recording, at least to my ear, and it's especially unflattering as far as Sherinian's keyboards are concerned.

On the whole, it's a solid live album which delivers a fat chunk of music and finds Dream Theater giving a lot of great material a spin in a configuration that you won't find on most of their other live releases, and when you put all that together that earns a good solid four stars - but there's just enough hiccups to stop it going beyond that.

Latest members reviews

3 stars With four studio albums and one EP to their name, it's time for another Dream Theater live recording! Coming at a time when the band were towing the line between their underground progressive metal roots and record label pressure to be more mainstream, 'Once in a Livetime' came at a bit of a tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#1787587) | Posted by martindavey87 | Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've just been listening to this one and it is an excellent live album. For those who complain that DT are far to precise and that their live output is exactly like their studio cuts, then this release proves them wrong. The band is, as always, musically tight and, yes, precise. But there are s ... (read more)

Report this review (#114899) | Posted by scarista | Monday, March 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not bad from DT, splitting up Seasons was interesting, and the music selection was good too. I enjoyed this album, and though there are a few songs that LaBrie doesn't sound to good, the music is at it's top quality. A great rendition of the early days of DT. If you like the era of When Dream and ... (read more)

Report this review (#93264) | Posted by Xeroth | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The fall of 1998 found me walking through Times Square in New York City. I had not been to New York for almost 8 years at that time so I was rather amazed at the transformation. Whereas Times Square had once been a haven of porno shops and peep joints the area now looked like a cut-out from middl ... (read more)

Report this review (#85135) | Posted by MrMan2000 | Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Dream Theater's first official live album 'Live at the Marquee,' released in 1993, presented New York's pioneers of progressive metal at the start of their consistently successful career, but five years and a number of albums, EPs and record label changes later, 'Once in a Livetime' presented ... (read more)

Report this review (#79477) | Posted by Frankingsteins | Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After the solid Falling Into Infinity, Dream Theater, for reasons unknown to myself, decided to release this disappointing live dud. Granted, there are some fine moments on here, such as the "Freebird" version of "Take The Time", and the dropping in of various sections of "A Change of Seasons" th ... (read more)

Report this review (#74996) | Posted by fratelmaestro | Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a BIG demostration of powerful Dream Theater live performances. The songs are played excellent, but some of them with some changes. "Puppies on acid" it's like the introduction of Awake's "The mirror" before the voice enters, very overdistorted guitar, it blows up your head!! Another ... (read more)

Report this review (#69808) | Posted by Martín | Friday, February 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Great live album, one of the best. Some of their songs just sound better when they're tied together live and slightly changed. This really was a great performance, and the overall effect of the album is amazing with mind blowing solos and extras. Probably more suited for the hardcore fan, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#11589) | Posted by | Friday, September 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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