New York based veteran prog-rock band Dream Theater has been creating music for well over two decades. To be more exact, almost twenty-five years have passed since the band’s debut album When Dream and Day Unite was originally released. That release saw Charlie Dominici on vocals, with then drummer and keyboardist Mike Portnoy and Kevin Moore and founding members John Petrucci and John Myung on guitar and bass. Dream Theater has seen a number of lineup changes since then. Dominici was replaced with James LaBrie, who still fronts the band today. Kevin Moore was replaced by Derek Sherinian and then later by current keyboardist Jordan Rudess. And Mike Portnoy has also since left for greener pastures and been replaced by Mike Mangini, giving audiences the band’s current lineup. What does this have to do with anything one might ask. It has everything to do with everything. As audiences will see in the band’s brand new live recording, Live at Luna Park, DT has never sounded better than it does with its most current lineup. This latest live release is Dream Theater at its peak. That is the first thing that audiences and fans will take away from LALP (as it will henceforth be known). Longtime fans will also appreciate that while the term “career-spanning” isn’t bandied about for this recording, it is a justified term in this case. This is the case despite the fact that not all of the band’s albums are represented in this concert. And those with HDTVs and home theater surround sound systems will appreciate the overall sound and video mix throughout the concert. They are the icing on the cake of this recording and together with the aforementioned elements, make LALP one more example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to lead the pack in the world of live recordings.
The very first thing that audiences will notice about LALP is that this recording presents Dream Theater at its collective best. Longtime fans of the band will agree with this sentiment, too. No disrespect is meant to any of the band’s now former members. But there is a certain something about the band in this concert that feels different from any of the band’s previous live recordings. It feels like the band has a whole new energy about it. There’s no denying the talents of the band’s former (and founding) member, Mike Portnoy. He is still one of the best drummers in the industry today. But watching Mike Mangini behind his kit, there’s also no denying that Mangini is right up there with Portnoy in terms of his abilities. Watching him perform his crossover maneuvers and reach up above himself to play his rototoms without missing a beat is breathtaking to say the least. Getting to see him perform from so many angles makes that experience even more awe-inspiring. It’s enough to make one question could Mangini in fact be even better than Portnoy? That’s a topic for another time. Getting back on topic, keyboardist Jordan Rudess more than lives up to the moniker of being a keyboard wizard, as audiences will both see and hear throughout the concert. Just as much awe is felt watching bassist John Myung as he works his way through each of the numbers in this performance. It’s obvious in watching this recording why Mynug has maintained the nickname of “The Octopus” throughout his career with Dream Theater. One would be remiss to omit any mention of guitarist and vocalist John Petrucci and James LaBrie. They too prove that they still have plenty left in the tank. LaBrie is still a vocal powerhouse to this day. And Petrucci can still shred with the best of them. What’s more, he looks like he has seriously bulked up. Put a mask on him, and he could be mistaken for Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson.
It’s obvious in watching LALP that Dream Theater is at the top of its game right now. If the band were to call it a career right now, then the musicianship of the band’s members alone would be a fitting immortalization of the band in this recording. It’s not the only aspect of the recording to which audiences have to look forward. Fans will also appreciate the extensive set list. While this performance doesn’t necessarily cover the band’s entire catalogue, it does quite the job of representing most of the band’s albums. That being the case, it’s safe to use the term career-spanning here. Audiences will each have their own favorite moments from this concert. This critic personally recommends the band’s original take on ‘The Silent Man’ for starters, off of the band’s 1994 album Awake as a starting point. The string accompanists make the song even richer than the already impressive take included on the album. On the heavier side, ‘Pull Me Under’ was the perfect choice to close the show. This is the song that broke Dream Theater out and truly introduced the band to the masses in 1992. And ‘Caught in a Web’ is a good middle ground piece for audiences to take in. This song also came from the band’s 1994 album, Awake. It’s not too hard or light. It’s a good, solid driving rock song. And experiencing it being performed with the band’s current shows once again that Dream Theater hasn’t lost any steam over the course of nearly twenty-five years. It’s just one more aspect of a recording that is the perfect starting point for the band’s new fans and just as impressive for those that have followed the band from its earliest days.
The set list and the talent displayed by the band throughout this performance are incredible, to say the least. Just as incredible and noteworthy are the audio and video mixes. Home viewers are taken into even more depth with this recording than those in attendance got. Thanks to the work of the camera crew and director Mike Leonard, viewers are taken up close and personal so to speak with the band. They get to be the proverbial fly on the wall, watching keyboardist Jordan Rudess work his magic and drummer Mike Mangini do things with his two hands that don’t even seem humanly possible at every turn. Mangini’s talents behind the kit will assuredly blow away every viewer, drummer or not. That is thanks to his talents being so effectively captured by the show’s camera crew and director Leonard. The side-by-side shots of Petrucci and Rudess are just as impressive. They serve together to add even more to the overall amazing effect of the performance itself. Not one shot is wasted. Nor is any mic. Those with HDTVs and surround sound home theater systems will get the most immersive experience of all with the show’s Blu-ray recording. And even if one doesn’t own a surround sound system, the audio and video mix alongside the show’s set list and the amazing display of talent by the band will still impress audiences, regardless of how long they have been listening to the band. And should the band put out another live recording in the future, it goes without saying that it is this same mix of elements that will make it tough for Dream Theater to top this recording. It is definitely the band at its best. And it’s available now in stores and online. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt. More information on this and other releases from Dream Theater as well as the band’s latest tour news and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial and http://www.dreamtheater.net. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.