DREAM THEATER — Once in a LIVEtime

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DREAM THEATER - Once in a LIVEtime cover
3.65 | 37 ratings | 2 reviews
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Live album · 1998


Disc 1
1. A Change of Seasons: I. The Crimson Sunrise (3:56)
2. A Change of Seasons: II. Innocence (3:05)
3. Puppies on Acid (1:24)
4. Just Let Me Breathe (5:53)
5. Voices (10:34)
6. Take the Time (12:20)
7. Derek Sherinian Piano Solo (1:54)
8. Lines in the Sand (13:13)
9. Scarred (9:27)
10. A Change of Seasons: IV. The Darkest of Winters (3:17)
11. Ytse Jam (4:09)
12. Mike Portnoy Drum Solo (6:59)

Total Time: 76:16

Disc 2
1. Trial of Tears (14:11)
2. Hollow Years (7:01)
3. Take Away My Pain (6:16)
4. Caught in a Web (5:16)
5. Lie (6:45)
6. Peruvian Skies (7:50)
7. John Petrucci Guitar Solo (8:06)
8. Pull Me Under (8:15)
9. Metropolis (6:16)
10. Learning to Live (4:13)
11. A Change of Seasons: VII. The Crimson Sunset (3:49)

Total Time: 78:02


- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Myung / bass
- John Petrucci / guitars, backing vocals
- Mike Portnoy / drums, backing vocals
- Derek Sherinian / keyboards

- Jay Beckenstein / alto saxophone on "Take Away My Pain"

About this release

Label: EastWest records
Release date: October 27, 1998

Recorded at Le Bataclan, Paris, France on June 25th 1998.

Thanks to Pekka for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Dream Theater have made gargantuan live albums part of their schtick now, so it's weird to think the first of these was Once In a Livetime, since it captures the band at a rather unrepresentative moment in their history. After all, Falling Into Infinity is one of the less well-received albums - I think it's alright, but a clear stumble compared to the preceding three albums (and the Change of Seasons EP), and part of that was because the band were being tugged in different directions in a tug-of-war between commercial leanings and prog purism which would eventually resolve with the monster success of the Metropolis Part 2 concept album, where they demonstrated that they could do both at once.

What you end up getting here is a live album which certainly leans on the "metal" side of Dream Theater's prog metal equation, but the combination of its sheer length (two and a half hours!) and the nature of most of their back catalogue means that their prog chops end up being well-represented anyway. In addition, whilst the band might have needed to please studio executives in the studio, in the live context they were still throwing in a healthy dose of improvisation and soloing.

This is, of course, the main live album from Derek Sherinian's stint in the band, and hails from towards the end of his tour of duty. When he's on form and gelling with the rest of the band, his presence is certainly helpful in making the album stand out in the mountain of Dream Theater live output - after all, even if the band have gone over a lot of the same ground in later live releases, they haven't exactly included many Derek Sherinian keyboard solos on those.

At the same time, however, there's some spots where you start realising why Sherinian's time in the band just wasn't working out. There's a few too many moments where his keyboards are either a little overwhelmed by what the rest of the band is doing, or absolutely dominating everything, and he seems to struggle to find the sweet spot in between those extremes. It doesn't happen so often to derail things, but it happens just often enough that I notice it. Of course, it isn't necessarily clear whether this is the side effect of occasionally shaky sound quality - there's a mild fuzziness which creeps in at points on the recording, at least to my ear, and it's especially unflattering as far as Sherinian's keyboards are concerned.

On the whole, it's a solid live album which delivers a fat chunk of music and finds Dream Theater giving a lot of great material a spin in a configuration that you won't find on most of their other live releases, and when you put all that together that earns a good solid four stars - but there's just enough hiccups to stop it going beyond that.
With four studio albums and one EP to their name, it's time for another Dream Theater live recording! Coming at a time when the band were towing the line between their underground progressive metal roots and record label pressure to be more mainstream, 'Once in a Livetime' came at a bit of a transitional period, when really, they were neither of these things.

The set is amazing, and features all the early Dream Theater classics. There's plenty of little tidbits, jams, and covers thrown in between and during songs, giving this a true "live" feeling, and the 20-minute epic 'A Change of Seasons' has been broken down into multiple segments, each serving as interludes amongst the other tracks, giving a nice sense of continuity throughout the show.

The sound is very good, the band are incredibly tight, and the audience add a great energy to it all (the cheering at the beginning of 'Metropolis' sends chills down my spine!). A lot of the lengthier songs have been cut down, for example, twelve-minute 'Learning to Live' is now down to a staggering four minutes, yet they manage to capture the main essence of each piece, making the whole set flow effortlessly.

The only legit detriment to this album is vocalist James LaBrie, who at this point was desperately struggling from a well-documented case of food poisoning that had ruptured his vocal chords (so well-documented, in fact, that people who have never even heard of Dream Theater know about it).

Otherwise, the only reason I never really listen to 'Once in a Livetime' any more is because it's been surpassed by later releases. 'Score', 'Live Scenes from New York', and especially 'Live at Budokan' are far superior live albums. Still, it wraps up "that period" of the bands career with keyboardist Derek Sherinian, who is an incredible musician, but always had a flamboyance about him that didn't really suit Dream Theater.

Good album to own if you're a collector, but they've done much better ones since.

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