DREAM THEATER: Distant Memories — Live in London

Distant Memories — Live in London



PROGRESSIVE METAL: Do we really need another live Dream Theater record? Distant Memories – Live in London CD/DVD is the progressive metal maestros’ ninth live installment and was recorded at their sold-out show at the historic Apollo Theatre in London, England. Some music fans deem live albums as being boring, while some older rock fans grew up on classic live albums such as Ted Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo, Peter Frampton’s Comes Alive, UFO’s Strangers in the Night, and KISS Alive!, to name a few.

The over two-and-a-half-hour performance documents the band’s popular world tour in support of their latest critically acclaimed studio album, Distance Over Time. Plus, to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their 1999 seminal concept album, Metropolis Part 2 – Scenes from a Memory, the band plays it in its entirety. The lone “A Nightmare to Remember” from 2009’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings and “In the Presence of Enemies – Part 1” from 2007’s Systematic Chaos also appear. The DVD was filmed by Pierre and Francois Lamoureux and produced by guitarist John Petrucci, consisting of minimal yet poignant production values.

As expected, the band’s performance throughout the night is flawless. Starting the evening with “Untethered Angel” from Distance Over Time, the quintet immediately commands the London audience. Vocalist James LaBrie has never had difficulty with his stellar range, and on this night his voice was poetry in motion. However, we’re not sure if there was any studio trickery involved with LaBrie’s vocals or not, as they almost sound too perfect. Equally impressive is John Petrucci’s guitar wizardry, John Myung’s precision-like bass lines, Jordan Rudess’ swirling keyboard flourishes, and Mike Mangini’s dynamic drum playing, while the audience’s reaction is highly appreciative.

Although Dream Theater isn’t the most exuberant live band and doesn’t move around a lot on stage, they prefer to let their music do their talking. And the music on this night was fabulous. Standout moments include the glorious melodies and precision-like performance of “Scene Three: II. Fatal Tragedy” and the explosive crowd response on “In the Presence of Enemies – Part 1,” while the grand finale “At Wit’s End” is energetic and engaging, proving to be the perfect ending for the night.

To answer the question that started this review, yes, the world could use another live Dream Theater record! Since Covid-19 hit and tours have been canceled, the band wasn’t able to play much of this new material live, so this is the closest thing we have to this new material being performed live this year. Distant Memories – Live in London is a different representation of the band’s current era material with a nostalgic representation of the 20th anniversary of their seminal classic album done only in the classy, heartfelt, and workmanship-like way that fans have come to expect from this band. ~ Kelley Simms