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Dream Theater Live at Budokan album cover
4.25 | 529 ratings | 20 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (55:29)
1. As I Am (7:26)
2. This Dying Soul (11:44)
3. Beyond This Life (19:37)
4. Hollow Years (9:18)
5. War Inside My Head (2:23)
6. The Test That Stumped Them All (5:01)

CD 2 (56:45)
1. Endless Sacrifice (11:19)
2. Instrumedley (12:15)
3. Trial of Tears (13:50)
4. New Millennium (8:02)
5. Jordan Rudess Keyboard Solo (3:58)
6. Only a Matter of Time (7:21)

CD 3 (53:33)
1. Goodnight Kiss (6:16)
2. Solitary Shell (5:59)
3. Stream of Consciousness (10:54)
4. Disappear (5:57)
5. Pull Me Under (8:38)
6. In the Name of God (15:49)

Total Time 165:47

The material on Live at Budokan was recorded in Tokyo, Japan during the Train of Thought tour.

A DVD version will also be released.

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Petrucci / guitar
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums & percussion

Releases information


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Buy DREAM THEATER Live at Budokan Music

DREAM THEATER Live at Budokan ratings distribution

(529 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DREAM THEATER Live at Budokan reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by frenchie
4 stars The DVD is way better but the cd is still damn good too. The band play to their best abilities. The only flaws on this album are that the tracklist is split up into 3 discs which can be annoying, the DVD has em all on one disc and each individual disc loses some of its amazingness this way.

I have also noticed that sometimes there can be a little too much emphasis on the drums on a few tracks. probably on "As I Am", "This Dying Soul", "Pull Me Under" and "In the Name of God" where i noticed this most. Sometimes Petrrucci and Labrie can get drowned out a bit yet it is still very listenable and enjoyable. Those are about the only flaws on this 3 cd package.

The "Falling Into Infinity" tracks are much more enjoyable here. "Hollow Years" being the best yet i thought "New Millenium" sounded way better here. A lot darker sounding and heavier as well. I highly recommend this and the DVD as it is an essential Dream Theater purchase. I think even those who didnt like "Train of Thought" (i don't know why, it is just an incredible album!) will enjoy the live versions. The boys, once again, haven't failed to please.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As I have reviewed the DVD version, listening to the CD is for me another part of enjoyment as well. The beauty of live set CD after we've seen the video is that we can resonate the sound and associate with what sort of act the band played during the show through our mind. I don't think that I need to discuss into greater details about this live set package that contains 3 discs.Sometimes, I enjoy the DVD without turning my screen on so that I got the sound only. The only complaint I have with this CD package is its digipak package that does not provide a support to hold the disc. My experience with this kind of design has made some scratch on CD surface. This also happen with my Pink Floyd The Wall live. So, I packed the disks separately in other jewel.

Musically, it's an excellent live set! Keep on Progging! GW, Indonesia.

Review by imoeng
5 stars Live At Budokan CD

I really wanted to cry when I got this CD, because I just can listen and imagine how great the concert is. Thankfully, now I have them both and its really an amazing concert and I think is the best Dream Theater concert so far. Well, the best concert recorded though : ).

The best part is the Instrumedley, a giant medley taken from every single one Dream Theater albums, well, except Octavarium. The medley contains is about 11 minutes long and until now, I keep wondering how come they got enough stamina to play those unimaginable greatness instrumental songs. There are also three other songs which are amazing because at some part, they improvised the songs, which are Beyond This Life, Hollow Years and In The Name of God. Well in In the Name Of God, John Petrucci improvised the solo to give LaBrie a chance to say thanks to all of their Japanese fans, which is truly amazing.

I give 5 stars, because of the whole concert, not because of the CD and I gave 5 stars as well to the DVD. Now if you have the CD, but don't have the DVD, I strongly recommend you to buy the DVD, because for me it is Dream Theater best concert so far!!!

Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Review by sleeper
4 stars Live at Budokan was the third album that I got from Dream Theater (after Images and Words and Scenes From a Memory) and at the time I knew very few of the songs on here. In fact I was very new to prog as a whole so this had no trouble in surprising me at the level of musicianship that these guys displayed. But as my knowledge of Prog has grown (along with my CD collection) this has remained as one of my favourite live albums.

The show kicks of with the rousing As I Am and holds that feeling through the following song This Dying Soul and Beyond This Life. You notice pretty quick that each song flows from one to the next superbly, regardless of which album the song came from. I find that this gives the whole album an organic feel that works very well.

Extended instrumental's and improvisations seem to be the order of the day here, Beyond This Life has been fleshed out with 8 minutes of instrumental madness, Hollow Years has been transformed from a slow and boring song to something quite amazing, with one of Petrucci's most emotional solos set in the middle. On the second disc you get the awe inspiring Instrumedly (as you can guess its a medley of DT and Liquid Tension Experiment instrumental's) that contains one of the most impressive solos Myung has ever performed. Musicianship is something that isn't a problem for these guys throughout the album and they give a stunning performance.

There are a few bad points though, I'm not a huge fan of the added keyboard solos from Rudess in Beyond This Life and Keyboard Solo on the second disc, but that's only a few minutes of rhythmles showing off in nearly a 3 hour show. I would also have preferred it if they replaced This Dying Soul (my least favourite song from Train of Thought) with a couple of songs from Awake, an album that seems to have been overlooked on this performance and The Mirror/Lie could have fit in perfectly on this album.

Overall though, this was an amazing experience for me when I bought it and it remains one of my favourites, and most played, live albums. A must for fans of DT and Prog-metal in general, 4 stars.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This live album was recorded at the legendary Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan at the height of Dream Theater's Train of Thought tour. It was the final show they did in Japan for the tour. Now the audio presentation (and the video presentation for the dvd) is nothing short of impeccable, with a great overall mix and a nice balance of instruments (although sometimes the bass is very low). The set played encompasses a wide variety of the group's albums, with every album up to Train of Thought getting a song or two played from it (except Awake, which only gets Erotomania in the Instrumedley). Although all the songs are played perfectly, the only thing I dislike about this album is that although Beyond This Life and Hollow Years get some extensions, most of the show doesn't have that genuine live feel with a nice jam going or any little live additions that aren't originally in the studio version, which leaves a bit of a cold feeling. But other than that, though, this is a superb live album.

The first disc opens with As I Am, which segues into This Dying Soul. Both of these tracks are played note for note and have no real invention to them, but that doesn't mean they aren't fun songs. Petrucci shreds again and again while Myung and Portnoy lay a solid foundation and Rudess provides some solid work underneath (with his keyboard tone acting as another guitar). LaBrie's vocal performance here, while not as good as in the studio, is solid for him because he's often a hit/miss vocalist in live aspects. Beyond This Life is the first song that gets a major extension to it. In the middle, a nice instrumental jam proceeds, beginning with a nice guitar solo from Petrucci, and then a keyboard/drum duel between Portnoy and Rudess, who's keyboard tone on this section is remnicent of something Tommy Mars would play for Zappa. In fact, an excerpt from Baby Snakes is played during the instrumental section of this album.

Hollow Years follows with some more extensions thanks to a lengthy guitar introduction from Petrucci as well as a lengthy guitar solo towards the middle of the song. The next songs played are War Inside My Head/The Test That Stumped Them All, both played wonderfully and without any faults or mistakes. Disc two opens with Endless Sacrifice which is played the same as the studio counterpart, but I'm quite fond of the instrumental middle section in which everyone gets a chance to shine. Next is the Instrumedley, a 12 minute instrumental comprised of all the instrumentals Dream Theater has composed (minus Overture 1928 and Stream of Consciousness) all worked within the framework of The Dance of Eternity (which acts as a bridge between different sections). Trial of Tears is next. I've always been fond of this song because of the great playing on Myung and Petrucci's part, they are mesh well together on this song, especially during the instrumental middle section.

The second set of the show opens with New Millenium, which is played wonderfully. Kudos to Portnoy on this track, who offers a great backing vocal to LaBrie's lead. Only a Matter of Time follows, and I find this track to be better than the studio version (same goes with Hollow Years on disc one). Rudess's keyboard solo here is more dynamic than Moore's solo on When Dream and Day Unite and the song really sounds a lot better here than in the studio version. Following that is Rudess's keyboard solo, which ends the second disc. It's the only song I truly don't care for on this live set, all it is is him fiddling with the guitar type sound on his keyboard with a wah effect and then into a synthesizer ditty that goes nowhere. Disc three opens with two more songs from the Six Degrees suite, Goodnight Kiss and Solitary Shell. They are both played quite well and they don't really stray far from the studio version.

Stream of Consciousness follows with a 10 minute instrumental that goes through many motions, but is guided by a cool 5/4 motif. Petrucci's solo on this song is incredible and Myung's performance here is quite nice as well. Disappear follows with some heartfelt vocals from LaBrie, who sounds more solemn here than on the studio counterpart. It's cut short from the studio song though, because Petrucci's guitar outro doesn't last as long. It's a quite nice rendition. Pull Me Under is next, and you can expect this version to be no different than any other live version of Pull Me Under. The encore is In the Name of God, which gets the benefit of an extended guitar solo in the end from Petrucci. It's wonderfully played by all members and ends the show well.

In the end, Live at Budokan is a great live album, but not Dream Theater's best. There are some problems in my opinion with the songs being relatively unchanged from the studio counterparts and the lack of songs from Awake (The Mirror or Voices would have been nice). But all in all, this is a great sounding live set that fans of Dream Theater should love. 4/5.

Review by jampa17
4 stars One of their best live performances.

If you are here for enough time, you already knew that I'm a die hard fan of Dream Theater. But to be honest, I've never bought live DVD's and CD's of the same presentation. I love to put the DVD's and just hear them or actually watch them, so for me is a waste of money to buy both. But well, for those who are thinking on getting this album or for those who still don't have seen the DVD, I want to help you with a little guide.

Well, after the first three songs of this live album you will get what is all about. Metal and technical ability all the way. They were promoting their heaviest album Train of Thought and they were really into metal during that time. The extended instrumental section in the middle of Beyond this Life worth the experience on it's own. More than just soloing over and over (which is not necessary, we all know they are at the top of the league on their instruments) they share ideas and makes interesting answers in between the instruments. They have fun and the audience as well.

But the good things don't stop there. The songlist is rising to prepare you to the real focus of the presentation: the INSTRUMEDLEY. While I don't like medleys in general, because I always want to hear the complete songs and not just experts of it, this is really an impressive performance in a journey through all the instrumental songs of each album of the band. Technical ability and a collage of colors and emotions you will get in this "no resting" interpretation. The close part of the INSTRUMEDLEY is the moody and underrated Hell's Kitchen, which is in my opinion, the best instrumental song of them. You have to listen to it to believe it.

But the good things don't stop there yet! TRIAL OF TEARS, DISAPPEAR and ONLY A MATTER OF TIME are there to lift you up to the very best of their catalogue. I don't think there's a better set list really, and the interpretation of each is on the top level really.

The fact that I don't mention the rest of the material doesn't mean that it don't worth the listening. It's great really, but you have to hear it to believe it. In this gig they choose a lot of old and new songs, so you can have your favorites but I think you should not miss the above mentioned. Quality of sound at it's very best. Labrie sounds great with mic through wire, a lot better than wireless. His vocals sound with enough reverb and space. And the mix is only down of the Score album. It's all there, the best of the best. So...

I don't like the song by song description but just to help to guide new guys getting into the music. So, now you know it. Really heavy metal stuff with a lot of instrumental parts, soloing and medleys. High quality of interpretation and sound and enough music to be satisfied. Recommended to both fans and newbies. 4 stars is fair.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Strength in metal

Yes, here we have yet another Dream Theater live release. Nothing special, right? Yes and no. Yes, because here we have Dream Theater again, in their third official live release. No, because they're Dream Theater, and they're live performance is as impeccable as ever. No, because this a massive 3 disc live set, detailing 18 Dream Theater tracks, 4 of which are off Train of Thought (the album this tour was in support of). The band, well known for their fantastic live discs and performances, have returned again this time in the famed Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, a country known for their love of foreign music. To a screaming crowd, the band played a number of their well known tracks as well as a few of the "lesser known" tracks such as Only a Matter of Time and New Millennium. Overall, the album has fantastic production, fantastic reception (from the crows), and an overall superb performance. 4 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars When I decided I needed to get a live DREAM THEATER album I noticed their last three were rated very highly by the fans. What swayed my decision to get this one was the fact it was for the "Train Of Thought" tour and I love that album. Besides I hear that this one rocks the hardest which is no surprise considering the album they were promoting. Almost all of "Train Of Thought" is on here.This is a three disc affair and really for me only the third disc slips a bit because of the three more laid back tracks on there, although they still are very good songs."Live Scenes From New York" was tempting only because it has my favourite track on it by them "A Change Of Seasons".

Disc one starts off the concert with two tracks from "Train Of Thought" in "As I Am" and "This Dying Soul".The first opens with the crowd clapping along until they are wiped out by the sheer power of the band. Pertucci proceeds to rip it up before 5 1/2 minutes followed by Portnoy putting on a show. Speaking of Portnoy he opens up the second track with a barrage of drums fills. Some raw aggression follows that will come and go.Two killer tracks to start.

"Beyond This Life" from "Metropolis:Scenes From A Memory" opens with some ripping guitar as the drums pound. Hell yeah ! It settles back before a minute with vocals but not for long as these contrasts continue. Rudess to the fore after 8 1/2 minutes. Actually from after 6 minutes to before 14 minutes the guitar, bass and drums sound incredible. Fantastic song. "Hollow Years" from "Falling Into Infinity" is fairly laid back overall. Good song though.

The next two are from "Sx Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" and they blend into one another making it one long track. Cool. "War Inside My Head" and "The Test That Stumped Them All" sound great live.

Disc two starts off with another "Train Of Thought" track in "Endless Sacrifice". Nice and heavy and it kicks in pretty good 5 minutes in. Kicking ass 8 minutes in. "Intrumedley" is just that. Not my favourite but yeah these guys can play. "Trail Of Tears" is great, in fact the beginning and ending remind me of "Xanadu" by RUSH. I like this a lot more than the studio version on "Falling Into Infinity".

"New Milleninum" sounds incredible to start and I like the synths after 5 minutes. "Keyboard Solo" makes me laugh everytime. I have to give Rudess credit the guy is innovative and man he puts on an amazing show here. Killer stuff. "Only A Matter Of Time" from the debut is surprisingly well done. Powerful to start and really this song sounds different from the rest. I like it.

Disc three begins with two straight tunes from "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence"."Goodnight Kiss" and "Solitary Shell".They are both good but too laid back for my tastes. "Stream Of Consciousness" changes that as this "Train Of Thought" track blows the doors off. "Disappear" is again fairly laid back before they end it with two excellent tracks in "Pull Me Under" the best version i've heard so far and "In The Name Of God" a thunderous track from "Train Of Thought".

All in all a very solid 4 stars and one I really enjoyed despite it's length.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A strong live album in the glory days for Dream Theater ramming prog down the throats of Budokan fans. It is an incredible performance best seen than heard though the audio experience offers much as a type of Dream Theater concoction of the best of the earlier years.

There are a few odd surprises scattered in the mammoth set list but the classics are here and played to perfection. Beyond This Life is a huge epic clocking 19:37, and with some dynamic lead guitar from Petrucci. The Test That Stumped Them All is always a killer track live and sounds fresh and powerful with huge bass runs of Myung and Portnoy's slamming percussion.

Endless Sacrifice is an 11 minute gruelling journey into prog excess with a wild keyboard section from Rudess. The Instrumedley to follow features some awesome musicianship. LaBrie is in fine form on soaring vocals, and shines on such compositions as the 14 minute Trial Of Tears and New Millennium. It is always a pleasure to hear a Jordan Rudess keyboard solo and it is as inventive here as ever.

CD 3 features some amazing songs such as Solitary Shell, Stream Of Consciousness and quintessential Pull Me Under. The set closes with epic 16 minute In The Name Of God. So overall this is a great set with power metal and tons of instrumental breaks. It is progressive and packed to the gills with mind bending virtuoso solos and material from some of their best albums. It was the "Train of Thought" tour so there is plenty from that album as well as "Six Degrees" and "Images and Words" among others. All Dream Theater fans must have it.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Triple live albums are a lot to digest - in vinyl days when bands like Yes or ELP put them out, you'd be looking at some 2 hours of music, and in the CD era bands with a mind to could push this to closer to 3 hours (or even longer).

Live At Budokan is the second triple live release from Dream Theater, following up the excellent Live Scenes In New York. To their credit, they don't overstuff it to the extent they could have, with the total running time coming in at under 3 hours. There's also a lot of solid material on here, much of which hadn't been on a major Dream Theater live release before (ie, setting aside fan club releases and official bootlegs and things of that nature): you get a good helping of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, plus most of Train of Thought, plus good selections from the rest (including the remarkable Instrumedley of various Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment instrumental snippets and a take on Beyond This Life which works in a Frank Zappa cover/tribute).

The main reason I don't think it quite measures up to Live Scenes From New York is that that had the play-through of the entire Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory concept album to really give that a solid reason for being as long as it was - main album, plus some shorter songs not on that album, plus a clutch of epics added up to three hours which went by in a breeze. Here, the length seems a tad excessive.

The reason I don't think it's more than half a star below Live Scenes From New York is that the material here is damn strong, and Dream Theater are at the height of their powers here. If you are interested in exploring Dream Theater's many live releases, I'd still give Live Scenes From New York the top prize, but I'd say this should be close after it on your checklist.

Latest members reviews

4 stars As if 2000's 'Scenes from a Memory' wasn't enough, here's Dream Theater with another three-disc assault on the senses, with 2004's live album from Japan's world-renowned Budokan venue, aptly titled 'Live at Budokan'. Touring to promote 2003's 'Train of Thought', 'Live at Budokan' sees the band ... (read more)

Report this review (#1948847) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, July 17, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've had Live At Budokan for eight years now. What a pleasure it was to revisit the CDs this week. I listened to disc 1 Wednesday morning, disc 2 on Thursday morning, and on this morning of Friday May 17, 2013, I listened to disc 3. My five-star rating of this mammoth live release comes from c ... (read more)

Report this review (#960639) | Posted by RedKlouD72 | Friday, May 17, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Good live CD, dream theater in Japan, how glorious! And in the format of a 3 CD madness, yeah baby! And I must also add that LaBrie has been improving his live vocalization problem too. Not perfect, but still very enjoyable. There is a couple of songs that the music was a little off so that it d ... (read more)

Report this review (#93265) | Posted by Xeroth | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Very good live album, and I am glad that they finally got a good recording of the vocals. On once in a Livetime I though James Labries singing was very lackluster and at times he sounded like he was just yelling in order to hit a note. None of that on this album at all. Sometimes I think th ... (read more)

Report this review (#49703) | Posted by tennyson | Sunday, October 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very good live album. Dream theatre have a good mix of songs hear. The album opens with 2 very heavy songs on which the band is basically a power trio with Labrie singing i can barely hear Rudess on these tracks. The next song beyond this life turns into an uber- jam streatching out to almost ... (read more)

Report this review (#47112) | Posted by walrus333 | Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hello, Proggers! There are two important hinks here. The first is the highly musicianship and technique master that the band has reached,DAMN they can play every repertoire they want!! and i think if they've reached that level is just because they love what they play and when you love to do ... (read more)

Report this review (#32833) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Live at Budokan marks Dream Theater's third full-length, live album release, aside from the few official bootlegs that have been released on drummer Portnoy's YtseJam Records. Recorded at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan on April 26th, 2004 during touring in support of their 2003 album, Train of Thoug ... (read more)

Report this review (#32824) | Posted by | Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First of all, I'd like to give this 5 stars, because this is an incredibly good live album. The musicianship is top notch, the recording quality is the best you can get. And Dream Theater is the best band there is for this sort of stuff, and one of my favourite bands. Now don't get me wrong, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#32823) | Posted by | Sunday, December 5, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This live album is one of the best live albums ever, I havent heared this type of live album ever since the "metropolis 2000" album, this album is awesome, the begining is cool because of "as i am" and "this dying soul" with its unison that sounds incredible, they were in promotion of his new ... (read more)

Report this review (#32820) | Posted by patomtz | Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Perfection, really, you can't tell where or when the studio meets the auditorium... sometimes annoying, sometimes outstanding. You got to listen to it, to really got a jaw- droping expresion. Since Rudess arrived to DT, they have been pushing the boundries of perfection from time to time, howev ... (read more)

Report this review (#32818) | Posted by arqwave | Friday, October 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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