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Dream Theater

Live at the Vic Theater, Chicago, Illinois May 13, 1998

Review by Gary Hill

The debate as to whether or not Dream Theater is progressive/art rock still rages on. After seeing this show, I cast my ballot in the "are" category. Never have I seen such a display of tight musicianship through intricate pieces of music (with the possible exception of Alan Holdsworth). If you do not go out and see this band live, it is certainly your loss. The show was very high energy, and, yes, they are definitely rooted in the heavy metal traditions (but hasn`t drawing from varied musical styles always been a progressive/art rock forte?). The band seems to like to pay homage to their influences by interspersing various bits and pieces of other groups songs, into theirs. Notable tidbits on this particular night were Skynyrd`s Freebird, Rush, Pink Floyd, and many others. The band also likes to throw interesting twists into their own songs live, sort of shaking up the arrangement a bit (perhaps changing the timing of one section, reworking another). The only complaint that can be made about this show was the sound. Although not bad, the keyboards could certainly have been mixed higher. Throughout a good portion of the show, keysman Derek Sherinian could barely be heard. Surprises of the night included "Speak to Me", a song currently unreleased in the US, and a snippet of Liquid Tension Experiment`s "Paradigm Shift". Do yourself a favor and make one of DT's shows.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 6 at
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