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Archive for December 5th, 2005

An Eve with the Orchestra

Posted in Reviews on December 5th, 2005

I’ve been a little remiss in not posting this sooner, but I’ve been a trifle busy.

Last Wednesday, the WBGF once again proved her greatness by getting us tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show for the third year running.

In previous years, we have been seated both stage-left and -right, but this year she decided we needed to see the show from down in the floor seats, which was tremendously cool. It’s actually the closest I have ever been to the stage at a large show. I didn’t think it would really make all that much of a difference, since there isn’t a difference in the sound really, but it was great to actually be able to see their faces for once.

As always, the show rocked mightily. How could it not? Where else are you going to hear Bethoven, Liszt and other greats performed not only by a truly good orchestra, but by a heavy-metal band, with fireballs blasting away like a war zone?

The show may be the same album every year, but they keep adding other elements to keep the folks coming back. Take Anna Phoebe, the string maestro for example: the first year I saw the show, she was not your mild-mannered violinist, often roaming around the stage as she got into particular bits. The second year, she took a more dominant stance, seeming more a member of the rock band than the symphony. This year, she was a full-on rock goddess, with all the attitude of an axe-slinging metal-head – never mind that her ‘axe’ is a vibrant pink electric violin.

They ended the show with both Angus and Anna running through the crowd and onto a cherry-picker, where they were hoisted 20 feet into the air during “Christmas Eve in Sarejevo” – neither one of them missed a note.

Speaking of axe-work, Angus Clark has been taking pages from Al Pitrelli’s style by incorporating more elements of other great players into the live show. Now I’m not talking about lifting sections of work from other players; I mean they have learned to play the style of guys like Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, and I think even a little Satriani. This is hard to do, folks. Any good technical guitarist can play another man’s work, but to play an original piece as if the other man’s fingers were on the frets takes talent. What I would love to hear them do next time is expand John Lee Middleton’s bass part – the show only has a few places where his work stands out from the rest.

I really can go on and on about these artists, but I’ll try and move along here.

Vocals: I don’t have the words, so I’ll use the words of Tommy Farese (a damn good singer himself): “Michael Lanning is the most Soulful White man on the planet.” Guy LeMonnier is a joy to the ears, and I wish he had a larger part in the show. Jill Gioia has the largest voice ever packed into so small a person, and Kristin Gorman can hit notes so perfectly it’s amazing – all while bouncing around the stage the same way Angus and Anna do.

TSO also has the blessing of having not one, but TWO of the best keyboard players in the world: Jane Mangini and Carmine Giglio. The dueling they do before “Christmas Liszt” is phenomenal. It’s truly a shame that touring is too hard on pianos; I’d love to hear them on a couple of full Grands. Since the piano is really a percussion instrument, I’ll segue here into John O. Reilly’s drum work – outstanding. As one man, he does what takes most orchestras 4 individual musicians.

Okay, I think I’ve praised them all enough, now for the bitching: When do we get another tour?!? Yes, we love the Christmas show – but we all know you guys have more than one album. Get it out on the road already!!