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Progressive Rock DVD/Video Reviews

Dream Theater

Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live With the Octavarium Orchestra DVD

Review by Julie Knispel

Dream Theater has heavily embraced the home video/DVD market over the years, releasing five full-length videos over the past 12 years. Their latest video release, Score, celebrates the band’s 20th anniversary with a full headlining set recorded live at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall on 1 April 2006. As the lengthy title states, a full orchestra joined the band for part of the show, conducted by Jamshied Sharifi.

The band intended this tour to cover the full history of the band, from their earliest days as Majesty through their 2005 release Octavarium. The setlist shows this, including rarities such as “Another Won,” originally recorded as part of the group’s first demo sessions from 1986, and “Raise The Knife,” an outtake from the Falling Into Infinity sessions from 1996 that has seen release only on an out of print fan club CD. The concert’s first set does not ignore any Dream Theater album; following an opening double shot of “The Root of All Evil” and “I Walk Beside You” from their most recent disc, the set continues in chronological order, closing out with “The Spirit Carries On” from Scenes From A Memory.

It is the second set from this performance that shocked the audience at this show. Curtains closed, the opening bars of the overture from “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” were heard, and as the curtains were drawn open, the Octavarium orchestra could be seen playing the piece live. The rest of the group came back on stage for a full performance of the 42-minute piece, the title track to their 2002 2-CD release. Continuing on with the orchestra, Dream Theater offered up excellent performances of the emotional “Vacant” and “The Answer Lies Within,” continuing the chronology through Train of Thought to the current day. Following a solid rendition of the politically charged “Sacrificed Sons,” the main set closed with an extended take on the symphonic epic “Octavarium,” complete with some excellent modular synth playing by maestro Jordan Rudess.

The performance concluded with “Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Dreamer” from Images and Words as encore, ending things where most fans began their discovery of the group.

Video quality is excellent, very crisp with good selection of shots. Unlike many current long-form concert videos, editing does not suffer from “MTV-itis,” exemplified by rapid-fire cuts from shot to shot. Camera angles and shots linger, giving the viewer opportunity to see everything happening on stage without feeling like the editor suffered from severe ADD. Audio quality is solid as well, in both 2.0 LPCM stereo and 5.1 surround.

Above and beyond the standard concert content, this release features a bonus DVD with additional footage. The longest of these extra features is an extensive documentary on the band’s history titled “The Score So Far,” which includes rare footage dating back to the very beginnings of the band when they met at Berklee College of Music. The documentary closes with sound check footage from the RCMH show immortalized on DVD 1 of the package. Additionally, 3 bonus performances are included from Tokyo 1993, Bucharest 2002 and Chicago 2005, featuring songs not on any other Dream Theater DVD. Finally, the bonus features are rounded off with a clean presentation of the infamous “Octavarium Animation” that was screened during the intense instrumental movement near the end of the epic.

Dream Theater has made every attempt with Score to please their die-hard fan base, and has succeeded with a feature-filled package that surpasses expectation on every angle. Score is recommended as a great way to introduce a newcomer to the band’s symphonic heaviness, and marks the opening of a new chapter in their history.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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