On June 10, 2000, Dream Theater mates John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess took the stage at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, N.Y., for an evening of unrehearsed, largely improvised guitar and piano music. Translation: Not Metal.
Petrucci's guitar is the more dominant instrument, even during acoustic pieces, yet none of the nine songs here would sound the same without Rudess' elegant and fluid playing. (Incidentally, the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center was the venue where Rudess recorded his solo-piano record 4NYC on Sept. 24, 2001, as a tribute album of sorts to humanity's resilience.)
This set — originally released by Sound Mind Music before Steve Vai heard it and recently reissued it on his own Favored Nations label — opens with "Furia Taurina," a spooky piece that evolves into a Latin-style hoedown featuring furious picking by Petrucci, who later opts for electric fusion on the slow-building "Hang 11." Rudess and Petrucci pass through many moods on "Truth," while the New Age mysticism of "From Within" and the melodic beauty of "The Rena Song" eventually give way to a touch of aggression on both "In the Moment" and "Black Ice." With a little tinkering, both would make decent metal songs. The shredfest studio version of "Bite of the Mosquito" closes the album by flirting with neoclassical metal.
But this CD is clearly not about metal music; it's about revealing another side of two musicians — both classically trained on their instruments at an early age — who, yes, happen to play metal but who also have more talent in their fingers than many headbangers have in their entire bodies.
1) Furia Taurina (10:10)
2) Truth (9:48)
3) Fife and Drum (9:30)
4) State of Grace (5:45)
5) Hang 11 (11:38)
6) From Within (5:21)
7) The Rena Song (7:03)
8) In the Moment (6:27)
9) Black Ice (10:54)
10) Bite of the Mosquito (Studio Version) (1:53)