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Chris Slack Reviews Trans-Siberian Orchestra Live in Seattle

By Chris Slack, Contributor
Thursday, January 1, 2004 @ 4:20 PM


The Trans-Siberian Orchestra L

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For me and a lot of other folks the holiday season is a stressful time with too much money to spend, lots of people making a big deal about a holiday they really don’t believe in, and blatant commercialism everywhere you look. Other than spending time with my family and loved ones the only good thing about this time of year is that Trans-Siberian Orchestra is guaranteed to do a concert. This year the event took place at the Key Arena, home of the Seattle Sonics basketball team. This is the first year the band has played in such a large arena, a testament to their growing popularity. Unfortunately the place was far from being sold out; they blacked out the entire upper level with a curtain to hide the empty seats.

Shortly after 7:30 PM, the house lights dimmed and the band made their way onto the stage dressed in tuxedos and white shirts. Al Pitrelli took stage left on lead guitar with two keyboardists behind him and the bassist and second guitarist took stage right. Behind them was a string section comprised of violins and cellos. The drummer took the rear center spot as expected. The backdrop was a mass of blue lights, which gave me the impression of being outside on a clear winter night. In front of those were large banks of lights ready to shine down on the band and the audience in front.

They opened with “Boughs of Holly,” an instrumental version of the “Deck the Halls…” song we all know. Between songs, a narrator told a story of a legend that took place on Christmas Eve. His verses were recited with such feeling and conviction that I was convinced his tears at the end of the story were real. Several people took turns handling the vocal duties throughout the show to tell the story which was comprised of the majority of the "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" album. Once the Christmas Eve story was done, Tommy Farese took the role of front man and introduced the band. They then went on to play a few songs from "Beethovens Last Night" and "The Christmas Attic" and a great jam built out of “Three Kings,” a bunch of bluesy jazzy riffing, keyboard duels, some of the best scat vocals I’ve ever heard and a bit from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Awesome stuff all right.

They then played a couple of the songs that were introduced on the last tour, this time saying that they had recorded them, hopefully indicating a new album sometime in the near future. First was an incredibly heavy version of “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. Many bands have used that for intro music but TSO did it up right, complete with live vocals and all instrumentation performed rather than pre-recorded. Next was their version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” that was somewhat reminiscent of Emerson Lake and Palmers “Nutrocker.” It featured a lot of great keyboard dueling and some interesting riffage. Needless to say audience reaction to the two tracks was great. They also gave us a preview of the stage show for their “Beethoven’s Last Night” tour (tentatively scheduled for next spring) that featured some of the hottest pyrotechnics I have ever witnessed at a concert. A number of other songs were then played, including a rocking cover of Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way.” The encore consisted of "Find Our Way Home" and a reprise of “Christmas Eve Saravejo.”

Even though the set was basically the same as last years, this years concert was the best yet due to the even more lavish light show and pyros. If you are going to only see one Christmas concert this is THE one to see. They tour every year so make sure not to miss it. Take your friends, family, and relatives as there is something there for each and every one of them. Just make sure to buy your tickets as soon as they go on sale as they will sell out quickly. This has become a holiday tradition for me and a number of friends; check it out for yourself and see what it’s all about.

Set List:

Boughs Of Holly
An Angel Came Down
O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night
The Prince Of Peace
First Snow
The Silent Nutcracker
A Mad Russian's Christmas
Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Good King Joy
Ornament
Old City Bar
Promises To Keep
This Christmas Day
An Angel Returned
Three Kings
Last Illusion
Mozart Figaro
Carmina Burana
Nutrocker Suite/Drum Solo
An Angel's Share
The World that He Sees
Rocky Mountain Way
Christmas Canon
Beethoven
Requiem (The Fifth)
Find our Way Home
Sarajevo

Photos from this concert can be found at http://www.shadows.com/gravemusic/live/tso113003/index.shtml.

(Photos by Chris Slack)


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