Dream Theater's John Petrucci: Top 5 Live Albums of All Time | Revolver

Dream Theater's John Petrucci: Top 5 Live Albums of All Time

You better believe Rush made the cut
dream theater GETTY 2020 live, Jordi Vidal/Redferns
photograph by Jordi Vidal/Redferns

Revolver has teamed with Dream Theater for an exclusive gold vinyl 4LP edition of their new live album, Distant Memories, limited to 300 copies worldwide. Order yours before they're gone!

Let's face it: When it comes to live albums, few bands know as much about the form as Dream Theater, who have released eight — that's right, eight — of 'em over the course of their career.

And now here comes number nine, Distant Memories, a multi-disc package that captures the band at London's Apollo on their world tour in support of 2019's Distance Over Time. In addition to plenty of cuts from that record, the set, like every show on the tour, also features a complete performance of Dream Theater's seminal 1999 concept album, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory.

For guitarist John Petrucci, it was necessary to get this tour — just like so many of the band's outings — documented for the fans. "The live side of Dream Theater is really important to us not only sonically, but visually as well," he says. "And so our show and stage production is something we've developed little by little over the years. If we were the type of band where it was only about the studio records and we didn't really tour that much, it'd be another story. But so many people have gotten to know our music through the live show."

Given the significance of the live experience to Petrucci and Dream Theater, we asked the guitarist to pick his five favorite live albums of all time. Thoughtful and thorough, his answers offered insight into his own development as a guitarist and songwriter — and reveal that Petrucci is still, like all of us, a rabid music fan at heart. And spoiler alert: Yes, Rush made the list.

So did Yes, for that matter.

Yes – Yessongs

Most of the albums that are close to me are the ones that came at the most influential musical point in my life, which centers around the early Eighties. But the one that's before that is the first live record I ever got. My cousin bought it for me and it was the Yessongs record, which I think might've been four LPs. I don't remember exactly, but it was a lot of music. It had all the stuff from Fragile and Close to the Edge and The Yes Album. At the time I didn't even realize it was live. But it was a great way for me to hear all that stuff and go back and buy those other albums. I remember it had this amazing Steve Howe guitar solo in a song called "Perpetual Change," and I used to argue with my friends that that solo was better than Van Halen's "Eruption." And we'd go back and forth. But Yes was a huge, huge, huge influence on me, and then later Dream Theater ended up touring with them. That was a cool full-circle moment.

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía – Friday Night in San Francisco

This was a very influential record for me as a guitar player. It's Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucía and John McLaughlin on acoustics at the Warfield in San Francisco, which Dream Theater has played many, many times. So it's kind of interesting picturing them playing there after having played there. But as a guitarist I was just blown away by the music on that record and the playing and the technical proficiency on acoustic. I remember listening to it over and over, just wanting to be able to have that type of command on the instrument.

Rush – Exit… Stage Left

This one might be obvious. [Laughs] I guess it was their second live album, but for me, it's all like the stuff from, you know, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures and that whole period that I was really, really into. It's right in that pocket of that '80, '81, '82 era. Plus, Rush is my favorite band of all time, and they were the first concert I ever went to when I was 12 years old. Just a big, big, album for me, for so many reasons.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

One of the other biggest bands back then for me, that I saw every time they played in New York at Madison Square Garden or the [Nassau] Coliseum, was Iron Maiden. And my favorite period from them was from The Number of the Beast through Powerslave. And Live After Death was the Powerslave tour. I have so many memories from watching that show — that whole stage set up with the Egyptian thing — and the setlist is, like, my favorite songs ever.

Dixie Dregs – Night of the Living Dregs

It's kind of like a half-and-half album, but the live part … Steve Morse is my favorite guitar player of all time. When I got turned on to him I was just starting to really, really get into guitar, and I had a friend who was older and was able to go to the bars and see shows and stuff like that. And he saw the Dixie Dregs play with Steve Morse and he was like, "You've got to listen to this guy." The first song I heard from this album was "The Bash," and it's this live, insane chicken pickin' bluegrass song. It just changed the whole trajectory of my guitar playing and what I wanted to do.