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Dream Theater: The Early Years In Video

Rich Wilson traces the beginnings of the prog metal legends

Dream Theater's debut album, When Dream And Day Unite, is the subject of this issue's The Albums That Saved Prog feature.

Band biographer and Prog writer Rich Wilson has unearthed some of the finest material out there for your delectation as we delve into the very early years of Dream Theater, whilst trying not to laugh at their hair!

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 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 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”!

Charlie 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 the band’s then drummer Mike 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 Kevin Moore) to perform When Dream And Day Unite in 2004. With Jordan Rudess never having met Charlie Dominci 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 fifteen years, he certainly no longer had the look of a rock star, as this performance of Metropolis from that night shows!

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