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On stage: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

- Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Nov. 2008 - Hershey, PA (USA) -
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Dec. 2009 - Auburn Hills, MI (USA) -
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra - May 2010 - Houston, TX (USA) -

- Trans-Siberian Orchestra -
- May 1st 2010 - Houston, TX (USA) - Verizon Wireless Theater -

The lights come on the set is down, the curtain's flown away to all you creatures of the night I say "it's time we play. We'll show you things that in your life you'd never dreamed you'd know. So now before the ghosts arrive it's welcome to the show ghosts and dreams awakened stories long forsaken."

Eyes staring at the stage, anxiously and patiently waiting for the play the narrator walk across stage right, opens his book and says:
"On a late night in the spring of 1827 the city of Vienna is experiencing the largest lightning storm in its long history. Within a large disheveled room, Ludwig van Beethoven is slumped over his piano and on the piano sits the just completed manuscript for his Tenth Symphony."

Behind the narrator, a backdrop showcased what appears to be windows, for the story takes inside the composer's room. As he mutters the words a five piece 8 piece orchestra, Johnny Lee, Al Pitrelli, Jeff Plate and Chris Caffery, all donning their tuxedo suits start playing Overture as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra takes the stage to perform Beethoven's Last Night in its entirety, for the first time with 4/5 of the Savatage guys.

After Overture TSO plays Midnight and Fate, in which the band introduces 5 different singers all singing different counter melodies leaving the audience amazed at how perfectly synchronized the singers are. We are introduced to a character named Twist (see Twist of Fate). Jay Pierce captures the audience with his psychotic...yet, enchanting voice giving the audience a sense of hope in a moment of dark and madness.

During What Good This Deafness we are introduced to the voice of the Maestro himself... Beethoven, as performed by Rob Evans. Twist makes another appearance as he challenges the maestro to rethink his thoughts, only to be interrupted by Mephistopheles himself, in the form of Jeff Scott Soto. JSS delivers an amazing performance as the devil himself, amazing stage presence, evil and wicked laugh. Definitly on par with Jon Oliva (who sang performs as Mephistopheles on the CD).

Rob Evans relieves moments of Beethovens youth in Vienna, Mozart and Requiem. We are then introduced to his immortal beloved, Theresa, the maestro first true love. Dreams Of Candlelight is a heartfelt and soulful song deliver by the Diva Chloe Lowery. We venture into the couples romance that was not everlasting. Chloe delivers another heartfelt performance in I'll Keep Your Secrets and Before The Fall as she witness Beethoven change into, what many perceive, a monster as he struggles with coming to terms with his deafness. This is What You Become.

The Red Devil walks into the stage once again as he comes to take Beethoven's soul, and makes him choose between his souls, music and the life of a little girl. Mephistopheles Returns, Misery, Who Is This Child showcase the confrontation that took place.

The Maestro is able to defeat Mephistopheles, save his soul and save his music with the help of Twist. However, his time has come to an end and the maestro lies on his piano for A Final Dream.

The whole story was accompanied by an amazing laser show and some pyro work. The window behind the stage, used as a backdrop was used to show images of the characters and the settings such as Vienna.
After the first part, Al Pitrelli introduced the band and singers.

The second part consisted of the classic Savatage songs Mozart And Madness, The Mountain and the classic Believe. We were given a special treat with JSS performing Another Way You Can Die from the new album Nightcastle.

Overall, an amazing showcase of musicianship, feeling, and creativity forged into one.

(guest writer)


- Trans-Siberian Orchestra -
- December 27th 2009 - Auburn Hills MI (USA), The Palace -

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a rock'n'roll orchestra, engineered by Savatage's lead singer and keyboard player, Jon Oliva, and by the band's partner and producer Paul O'Neill. It's first release was the 1996 single Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12/24, a song that had already appeared on Savatage's Dead Winter Dead album, in 1995. With it's mix of songs inspired in Christmas, played with a heavy metal approach, the band has sold over 7 million copies of their first four releases and, up to 2008, they have played to over 5 million people, in more than 80 cities.
Since 1999, TSO plays in the USA and some cities of Canada. Its success in North America is so huge that there are two bands: one for the East coast, and another one for the West coast, each one with their own staff and equipment. Therefore, it isn't any surprise how amazing their gigs are. And after ten years of touring, their stage design and crew structure is monstrous: ten trucks, that carry the musicians, roadies, equipment and generators. Four of them carry generators, such is the amount of electrical power they demand. To get their lightning set up correctly, it takes almost 15 hours, hence everything is in sync with the music.
The concert that took place in Michigan, at The Palace of Auburn Hills (Dec, 27th), home of NBA's Detroit Pistons, was one of the lasts on this Winter Tour, which promoted their latest release Night Castle (2009). Despite the crisis over the country, almost every concert on this tour was sold-out and, on every concert, a dollar of each ticket sold is donated to charity. On that night, there were 2 checks, with the amount of 11 thousand dollars, donated to charity institutions in the city of Detroit.
With the gymnasium packed, the show begins exactly at 7 PM. The first part lasts about 90 minutes, during which is presented the Christmas Story that the band is so famous for. The songs are intercalated with narrations by Bryan Hicks, a black actor with a powerful and soulful voice, with vast experience in musicals and TV. Actually, every musician that takes part in TSO, either from the east or west band, have a solid career, having participated in shows like Cats, Les Miserables and Chicago, and others are known among rock/metal fans, like guitarist Al Pitrelli (ex-Savatage, ex-Megadeth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, Talisman and Yngwie Malmsteen), both from the West coast. Those who are Savatage fans get the feeling of nostalgia when watching the East coast band: on guitars Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick, Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Jeff Plate on drums. Jon Oliva performs in some opportunities, but unfortunately it didn't happen on this night. There are 24 musicians on stage, and the string session (made of seven people), are local musicians - in every city, different but equally talented people.
The Christmas story told is the one from the album Christmas Eve And Other Stories (1996): On a snow blessed Christmas Eve a young man found himself alone in the back of an old city bar in the rundown section of town. Using his solitary drink as something of a moat between himself and the rest of the world, he was surprised when an elderly gentleman asked to join him at his table. Reluctantly, he nodded his permission but within minutes he found himself engrossed in a story that the old man related to him; a story about another Christmas Eve when the Lord looked down from above at all his children. It had been nearly two thousand years since the birth of His son and turning to His youngest Angel the Lord said, "Go down to the Earth and bring back to me the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day."
Beautiful songs were presented: An Angel Came Down sung by Rob Evan; The Prince Of Peace and Good King Joy by the fabulous Jay Pierce; This Christmas Day by James Lewis and Old City Bar by the young Steve Broderick, accompanied only by Alex Skolnick's acoustic guitar. The instrumental songs aren't less exciting: O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night, A Mad Russian's Christmas, First Snow and Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24.
Stage presence is something that TSO does not lack: even though they wear tuxedos - and the ladies, dresses, they all have a great time on stage, interacting with each other with even some choreographies. Chris Caffery and the gorgeous violin player Anna Phoebe are the ones that rock the most.
During the second part of the concert, we had a lot of instrumental songs, such as Toccata - Carpimus Noctem, Moonlight And Madness, Wizards In Winter, The Mountain (with great pyro on stage) and Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness), when Chris Caffery and Anna Phoebe go to a platform that comes up, over the audience, one of the many highlights of the night. Another one is a truly emotional renditions of Savatage's Believe, by singer Tim Hockenberry.
Technically speaking, the sound quality is impeccable during the whole concert (even though it could be a bit louder), and the lightning is spectacular, or should I say, essential: the synchronism with the songs is perfect and makes every bit of the show even more interesting. A friend said to me that they should sell not only ear plugs in the venue, but also sunglasses!
There were three hours of spectacle that left the audience with a huge grin: that's why people keep coming back, every year. Too bad that the TSO can't travel out of North America with their full gear to countries in Europe or South America, for example. To maintain the performance quality - both visual and sound wise - would cost too much. But if you have the opportunity to travel to the USA and watch one of their concerts, be sure of one thing: you won't regret it.

Story: Alexandre Cardoso (Brasil Music Press)
Photos: Heloisa Vidal (Brasil Music Press)


- Trans-Siberian Orchestra -
- Nov. 2nd 2008 - Hershey, PA - Giant Center (Hershey Park) -

Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in Charleston

Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in Charleston

Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in Charleston

Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in Charleston

Trans-Siberian Orchestra / Chris Caffery live in Charleston

Even if Trans-Siberian Orchestra is around for 10 years now, it's the first time I got the chance to catch them. And they are getting more and more popular every year, but also their show gets bigger every year.
To meet the request they play 2 shows a day several times a week! So they did in Hershey. The metal orchestra is not just playing their most famous tunes, they also have a few surprises for their fans - and even the brand new The Night Enchanted! The song will be at the coming album which is called Night Castle and again they use the multiple singers for their advantage.
They present an amazing show including multi-colored lasers, blazing lights, pyros and smoke and moving light rigs. Never seen a better tour production! At the second song - March Of The Kings - 3 platforms were descending, carrying guitarists Chris Caffery and Alex Skolnick as well as violinist Anna Phoebe. Just one word - amazing!
I got into TSO with Christmas Eve And Other Stories and so I was glad they played the whole album, it always get me into Christmas spirit, but they could have added a few tunes of The Lost Christmas Eve. Adrienne Warren was the lead female vocalist and she did an excellent job. At the second part of the show they offered a mix of tracks off The Christmas Attic, The Lost Christmas Eve and Beethoven's Last Night. It was like being in heaven for me when they played 2 Savatage songs! Okay, it wasn't a big surprise they did Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24 as it was initially released at Savatage's Dead Winter Dead album. Savatage bassist Johnny Lee Middleton dedicated this one to Criss Oliva, famous Savatage guitarist who was killed in a car crash in 1993. With Savatage's version of Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King (off Peer Günt) - called Prelude to Madness - they showed their metal side. But the highlight for me was Believe - off Savatage's Street album! This song is full of passion - and it was so good to see the Savatage guys - Chris Caffery, Johnny Lee Middleton and Jeff Plate - perform it. Well, and even Skolnick played in Savatage for awhile. It brought Savatage back for a brief moment. I wish they would come back, I really miss Savatage and the magic they had...
Every fan of rock, orchestra sounds and big shows should get the chance to see them live! It's the ultimate Christmas show! Unfortunately they only tour the US, and so I had to make the trip to see them - luckily I have some friends in this area.... But I'm glad I saw Savatage many times in Europe. I still don't understand why they aren't big in Europe, too. Anyway, let's wait and see what Night Castle will bring...

Masha (guest writer)

Photos by Karen Pate Schwendinger
(TSO - Nov. 19th 2008 Charleston, SC)


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