At times it must seem to you, dear reader, that W3M3 is little more than a Dream Theater fanzine. Be that as it may, it is easily explained by yours truly's need to own everything DT-related, preferably yesterday. Less than two weeks after the release of the double CD "Once in a LiveTime", Warner have now released a 2-hour video aptly titled "5 Years in a LiveTime", collected and edited by none other than Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy.

The video takes you on a tour through the last five years of the band, starting with the "Awake" recording sessions (co-starring Kevin Moore), through various live snippets even up to the new double live album. Like keyboardist Derek Sherinian notices, "this is writing history".

The contents of the video vary widely and, indeed, wildly. Obligatory seems to be the presence of three superfluous video clips ("Lie", "Silent Man" (yawn) and "Hollow Years"), but other than that what you get it pretty darned interesting. There are several rare outtakes from the early 1995 "Ronnie Scotts Unplugged" gig, including the Marillion song they did (with Rothery), the Yes song they did (with Howe) and Metallica's "Damage Inc." (with Greenway). At least you get to see a lot more of it now then you ever got to see when MTV spent an evening of "Headbangers Ball" on Dream Theater. Other bits thrown in are several songs of the Pay-Per-View Wowow Japanese early "Awake" tour show. Of course, there are bits from the June 25th La Bataclan (Paris) show that was used to produce the double CD. Last but not least (and actually not last either) there are various tracks taped at the early June Rotterdam Fan Club show (unplugged). These include previously difficult to obtain recordings like "Speak to Me" and "Cover my Eyes". The Rotterdam show was also the source of the highlight of the tape (an unplugged version of "To Live Forever") and the absolute low (my idiosyncratically disliked "Anna Lee").

Is everything excellent on this video, then? Why, pray, are there not five bullets below? I'll tell you. The sound is poor at times. Even the professionally produced sections sound abysmal at times. There's a recording of "Metropolis" (performed at the Monsters of Rock festival I reckon) that has absolutely no bass except for Myung's tapping bit, and the initial Bataclan "Burning my Soul" has the guitar mixed way back, and the bass drums sound like slabs of meat being hit against something.

"5 Years in a LiveTime" is a really interesting document featuring a large amount of stuff previously unseen or at the least rarely seen (did I mention a small section of "Perfect Strangers" performed with Bruce Dickinson, changing into none other than the infamous Nightmare Cinema?). The sound could - and should - have been better, though.

And...um...have you got any idea who the baldening geezer in the audience is who is seen twice (once out of focus, once in focus) during the "Cover my Eyes" track, and then for a brief instant playing air guitar right at the feet of John Petrucci during the final bit of "To Live Forever"? Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's me!

Click here to check out or buy this video



Written November 1998


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