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Continuing our series My Best And Worst Gigs Ever, Dream Theater keyboard master Jordan Rudess talks about one show that stands out in his mind as being particularly memorable – and two that he'd like to forget.
“Picking a best show is a little tricky. Luckily for me, there’ve been quite a few over the years that could qualify for 'the best' or 'the greatest.' Of the really good shows, there are sometimes little or big things that can push them over the top. One thing I’ve noticed is that when Dream Theater adds the element of filming a concert, it can either make it particularly special or it can detract from what were doing – the pressure we’re all under changes the energy somewhat.
“One show we filmed that was fantastic from beginning to end was Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2006. On a personal level, that gig was so wonderful. I grew up in New York and studied at Julliard, so I can remember driving by Radio City and dreaming ‘One day…’ Years later, there I am in the dressing room of this iconic place. We were playing this beautiful theatre, we were using an orchestra – it’s big stuff! [Laughs]
“Then came that moment to walk on stage and make it happen – it was so intense. It’s almost as if your nervous system can go off to the side, and that’s when you might get into a negative place. Fortunately, I kept everything in check and stayed strong; I was on my game, played well, and I was able to take in the whole experience.
“There were family members and fellow musicians out in the audience. One thing that makes Dream Theater unique is that people come in from all over the world for a big event like Radio City. Half of the audience for that show was from Europe or Asia or South America. That was really cool. That’s the kind of thing where you go, ‘All right, I’m gonna look out and take this in as a really great memory.’ Something else that added to the night was that it was the final gig of our 20th Anniversary tour. It felt like a culmination, a celebration – the whole deal wrapped up in one amazing concert.
“When you play a high-level show like that, you walk off stage with a mixture of elation and reflection. You think, ‘Oh, my God, I think I played that part a little sloppy. I missed a note here and there.’ Then you let go of it and you realize, ‘Hey, you know what? It was actually a pretty good show. ‘ And when I looked back at the footage – the concert is on a DVD called Score – I did think, ‘Hey, that was as great as I thought. We did it.’”