“It was like having Billy Joel try to sing with Queensryche or Iron Maiden. It just didn’t work”: Watch five examples of Dream Theater’s early live struggles

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In 2014 Dream Theater biographer and Prog writer Rich Wilson unearthed some examples of the band’s early live performance issues – demonstrating the challenges and hard lessons that need to learned before a truly mindblowing show can be delivered.

Prior to Dream Theater releasing their debut album, they were known as Majesty, and spent much of their time rehearsing in the basement of a hair salon. This first clip is a recording of one of those sessions and captures Mike Portnoy wearing some alarming shorts, and singer Charlie Dominici jumping in and out of shot with pixie boots on his feet! Predictably, the ever silent John Myung doesn’t say a word during the “meet the band” segment.

The dynamics of the band were also pretty interesting at this time, as can be seen on this next video, which consists of a short Q&A followed by a live performance of The Ytse Jam. The band’s then keyboard player Kevin Moore was a central force, and possessed a dry sense of humour, here suggesting that The Ytse Jam was named after a “traffic situation in India…”

Dominici would leave Dream Theater shortly after the album’s release, after the band had decided that he wasn’t quite the perfect fit – especially when playing live. As Portnoy explained, “It was like having Billy Joel try to sing with Queensrÿche or Iron Maiden. It just didn’t work.” That might sound harsh, but this rare footage certainly demonstrates what he means… Dad dancing?

Mind you, there were other mishaps to affect the band during those early live dates. Here, John Petrucci somehow manages to plummet from the stage into the crowd at the beginning of his solo. Ever the true pro, he quickly hops back on the stage without needing the help of the roadies who were sprinting to his aid. Indeed, a break in the solo and a touch of feedback aside, he covered up the incident pretty well.

Dream Theater’s early line-line up reunited (with the exception of Moore) to perform When Dream And Day Unite in 2004. With Jordan Rudess never having met Charlie Dominici before that night, he later admitted that when talking to him, he had no idea who he was. “I thought he was one of our drivers or something!”

With Dominici having stayed away from music for 15 years, he certainly no longer had the look of a rock star, as this performance of Metropolis from that night shows.