Dream Theater’s upcoming Live at Luna Park concert (releasing in November on CD, DVD, and Bluray) was shown in a limited number of theaters in many different countries over the past few days. Unfortunately, limited it truly was, as many fans simply were too far from a theater that was showing it, including some of us here at Lady Obscure.
As it turned out, a theater just over an hour and a half away from me was showing it. I knew that I had to go and bring back details and impressions. One viewing is not nearly enough to formulate a proper review, but these are just some general opinions I formed after the showing. I will note that the theater had the sound ridiculously loud, as in louder than an actual Dream Theater concert. While it still sounded good, it was slightly louder than a comfortable listening volume, and resulted in some distortion. This may throw some of my opinions way off base once the actual DVD comes out in November, but I stick to them for now.
Firstly, I want to mention how great the video quality and editing was. Even though it was definitely filmed to be shown on a smaller TV screen, it looked extremely high definition on the big theater screen. The editing was on another level, with some unique overhead shots of Jordan, which were some of my favorites throughout the entire concert. Every time that a member should have been focused on, they were. It was very knowledgeable editing.
Secondly, and most importantly to many people, James LaBrie was at the top of his game when listening to it as normal. I plugged my ears a couple time to reduce distortion and, while he still sounded good, it became easy to hear him straining slightly and sounding very thin on some high notes. He is miles better than on Live at Budokan and Chaos in Motion, but does not at all approach the level of excellence shown on Score.
Many people will be curious about Mike Mangini’s performance. It is absolutely awe-inspiring. The level of emotion displayed by him makes him a joy to watch, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he is a drumming madman. Be careful, after the solo, you may have to scoop your jaw off of the floor. He shows off quite a bit, playing a one handed snare roll while exhaustingly wiping off his forehead with the other hand, but it never seems like he is making fun of the audience, simply giving them an entertaining show. The solo is very well composed, with everything feeling like it is properly in place. Outside of the solo, Mangini gives his best performance on every single song, effortlessly performing the parts while maintaining an exuberance that extends to the audience.
John Petrucci was the king of the mix at the theater I saw this at. His guitar was right up front, and extremely loud. That isn’t to say the mix didn’t sound good, it simply could be improved upon, and may very well sound better on a traditional sound system at home. His playing was spot on, and carried a heaviness that I believe was missing on certain DVDs such as Live at Budokan. His guitar solo leading into The Spirit Carries On was good, but not great. It felt by-the-numbers to a degree, and did not invoke emotion like the solo on Score (which also led into The Spirit Carries On).
The worst part about the mix was that Jordan Rudess’ keyboards were slightly buried. They were audible throughout the entire night, and were up front when they needed to be, but there were times when I really had to listen for the keyboard part. It wasn’t terribly low, and I do believe it will sound better on a proper home theater system. His playing was, as usual, impeccable, with a very beautiful keyboard solo that James mentions was completely improvised. He wears a wizard hat for the encore, and it is awesome!
John Myung sounded loud and powerful pumping through the theater’s massive sound system, and was surprisingly audible. Many times it did blend together with the guitar due to how prominent it was in the mix, but there were some standout moments for his bass. The iconic bass solo in Metropolis Pt. 1 was slightly softer than it should have been, however.
While every song was performed excellently, some stood above the others. Bridges in the Sky is still a fantastic opening song, and the band completely rocked it, with James delivering strong vocals. The Silent Man and Beneath the Surface both greatly benefited from the string quartet, who did a fabulous job. The Root of All Evil sounded powerful and had an interesting new outro that was played on certain legs of the tour. On the Backs of Angels had a very cool transition into War Inside My Head, but I hope the band gives the combo of that and The Test That Stumped Them All a rest for a few concert DVDs. Breaking All Illusions had one of the best vocal performances of the night, and you could tell the band was still 100% in it even though it was almost the end of the concert. Finally, Metropolis Pt. 1 contained a really cool, jazzy jam near its end, and the audience in the theater clapped when it was all over.
I won’t give this a rating, but I will say that I extremely enjoyed it and already have the Bluray preordered. I know one thing for certain, which is that I can thoroughly recommend this live concert video to anyone that loves Dream Theater, or is just getting into the band. Many theaters will be showing this again in November, so if you want to skip the DVD and just see it on the big screen, or if you are getting the DVD but want to feel the bass and kick drum pulsing through you, you can!