This is one of my favourite live releases from the 2000 era. Dream Theater is touring on the back of their most metal album ever in “Train Of Thought”.
“Live at Budokan” was recorded at the Nippon Budokan Hall on April 26, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan and released on October 2004. It’s the same venue as “At Budokan” from Cheap Trick, however the audio for the Cheap Trick album was from the Osaka show, as the audio from the Budokan show was unusable.
Due to time constraints for the set, the songs “The Great Debate”, “Under a Glass Moon” and “Caught in a Web”, which included an extended drum solo, were removed from the set list at the last minute.
As I Am
It makes sense to kick off the show with the opening track “As I Am” from the “Train Of Thought” album with its ominous Black Sabbath like intro making way for a Metallica like riff. Of course, any influence from the past is done in the Dream Theater way with some fills and different endings on the 4th bar.
This Dying Soul
It also makes sense to feedback into the thrash metal like “This Dying Soul”.
The song actually moves through quite a few musical and vocal styles. It reminds me of “Beyond This Life” which also comes next. While James LaBrie cops a lot of flak, he is a very diverse and unique singer who can cover a lot of different vocal styles.
Scene Four: Beyond This Life
They take a long song and extend it to 20 minutes in length. For a band that is very technical and very precise, they really like to be loose and just jam. Sometimes I wish they didn’t, but hey, if I wanted to hear the songs as per the album, then I would just press play on the album. This is another song that moves through a lot of styles musically and vocally.
This is why the live album is a favourite.
The song is extended. But, it’s not just extended for the sake of it.
The intro has John Petrucci on acoustic guitar doing some flamenco/classical like leads over the verse chords that Jordan Rudess plays on the keys. The actual song (like the studio cut) version starts at 1.20.
At 5.30, there is an approx. 2 minute guitar solo which John Petrucci shreds on. And you know how in concerts the guitar solo spotlight is just that, the guitarist and no one else. Well, here Petrucci uses the songs solo chordal structure and the whole band for his spotlight.
It’s basically them extending the songs solo section. Something like how The Black Crowes do. And it is excellent.
If you are a guitar player you need to hear this. If you are not a guitar player you still need to hear this. This is why I go to the live show. To hear artists communicating musically on stage. Even James LaBrie thinks this is a highlight, as he screams in the microphone at 6.21, Mr John Petrucci and the crowd roars their approval. At 6.40 it’s over and they are back into the song’s pre-chorus.
War Inside My Head / The Test That Stumped Them All
These two songs are back to back in the “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” song and they always should be played back to back. They are thrash groove Metal done in Dream Theaters way.
I get the same goose bumps when I hear the live version as I do for the studio version.
It wouldn’t be a Dream Theater show if it didn’t have an instrumental song created purely for the live show.
In this case and on this tour, they take sections from their instrumentals and the instrumental sections from lyrical songs and create some new jams with it and they must have had a proviso that said it had to be at least 12 minutes long.
It’s broken down like this.
I. The Dance of Eternity
II. Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper’
III. I. Erotomania
IV. The Dance of Eternity
V. Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper’
VI. The Darkest of Winters
VII. When the Water Breaks (Liquid Tension Experiment Cover)
VIII. The Darkest of Winters
IX. Ytse Jam
X. The Dance of Eternity
XI. Paradigm Shift (Liquid Tension Experiment Cover)
XII. Universal Mind (Liquid Tension Experiment Cover)
XIII. The Dance of Eternity
XIV. Hell’s Kitchen
As a fan of those musical sections, it didn’t feel long nor boring. Plus you get some “Liquid Tension Experiment” sections, which I am also a fan of.
And they finish it off with my favourite section from “Hell’s Kitchen”.
Trial Of Tears
The keyboard ringing out segues into “Trial of Tears”. Another massive cut at almost 14 minutes long.
But it never gets boring, bringing back memories of 70’s progressive rock with a hook that reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (the “it’s raining” part).
This song rocks.
I can get over how hard rock sounding the song really is. Its technical but still rooted in hard rock. Maybe because the keyboard parts are written by Derek Sherinian originally.
The style of Allan Holdsworth and what EVH was trying to do with “Van Halen III” comes to mind here musically.
It’s a skip for me. Not all live shows are killer.
Only A Matter Of Time
A track from the long forgotten debut album. This track had embryonic elements of songs like “Learning To Live”, “A Change Of Seasons” and “Metropolis” that would come after.
It’s almost like a lullaby. Very Pink Floyd like with the shimmering clean tone guitar and samples of children voices playing. It’s another song within the massive “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” song. Petrucci’s lead break is full of hope and wonder.
They continue with the major key vibes and go into “Solitary Shell” from the “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” album. This one is very Peter Gabriel like.
Stream Of Consciousness
Another instrumental from their recent album. LaBrie gets a chance to rest while the remainder of the band jam for another 12 minutes. And the song goes through so many different movements, you cannot get bored listening to it.
Press play to hear the section between 4 and 5 minutes. James LaBrie. What a vocal performance. Brilliant.
Pull Me Under
When I saw this album title for the first time ever, I just presumed it was a song about getting jerked off. Man, was I wrong. Never judge a song by its title.
As soon as the acoustic guitar lines start, the crowd is at its loudest and it’s all systems go.
In The Name Of God
Press play to hear the bone crunching riffs and the jazz fusion like lead section which has Petrucci wailing away at supersonic speeds.
And it’s not an easy song vocally with a lot of highs, but LaBrie does it well.
I have the DVD and the CD of this release. The DVD was also certified Platinum in January, 2005.
6 thoughts on “The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Live At Budokan”
I’m listening to Portnoy’s Sons of Apollo for my Soto series and I’ve never really reviewed a prog type album before. Not sure how to talk about all the stuff going on.
SOA is basically how DT sounded on their first 5 albums.
From my perspective there has to be a song first. Something that catches me vocally and melodically.
If that is there and they then go into a long musical conversation, there will be a section or multiple sections that will move me musically and I’ll try and describe it.
I’m starting to enjoy this one a lot more. A couple I don’t like, but mostly not bad. I just needed a few more listens (well 5 more so far).
I haven’t heard this one but it sounds like a good deal. I like when bands get creative with their live stuff and DT are a band that have plenty of room to go off with their sets.
Megadeth played budokan a few weeks back- I was surprised it was their first time there. Great show!!
I saw that Mustaine was heavily promoting it on Twitter