Friday, January 26, 2018

Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I attended the concert in Seattle on Thanksgiving weekend.

Before my computer issues, I had thought that I might write about the concert as a Christmas attraction - since there are annual tours - and put it on the travel blog instead. Then, as I was trying to keep things going on the dying laptop, I thought I do a regular concert review, until everything gave out and there was no blogging for a month.

The thing is, they are kind of different, and though I had never seen them before, there were probably things about this year that were different. Plus I really want to gripe about the venue.

So I am going to go over the musical part today, and focus on the venue tomorrow.

I was thinking more about how the performance would go because of found Paul O'Neill's death. Some people had been wondering how that would change things. I was thinking that it was probably more like touring with a Broadway show than being in a band. Changes would be fairly normal in that context.

However, he must have been a guiding influence. How much of this year's show had he arranged? How will it affect future shows?

Still, during the concert itself I could see interactions on the stage that were very much traditional rock performance. Yes, there is a plot, and a backup orchestra and narrator and a lot of other things to make it different, but there are still guitarists and vocalists and percussion playing off of each other. Except that apparently O'Neill was on the East Coast tour and I was watching the West Coast group, so that could have been another source of difference there.

It may make the most sense to decide that TSO are their own thing, with elements that are familiar from other performing arts combined in their own way. A lot of the differences that I had thought could come into play might only be noticed by fans.

As it was, this concert seemed to combine parts of older tours and albums. There was a plot, but There was stuff before it and through it and around it that did not necessarily seem to relate to the plot. Apparently the previous show it was based on was a "Best of" show, so that makes sense.

That is speaking only of the first TSO show, because after that there was a short break and then another full performance. I had thought that was Savatage, but apparently it is still TSO.

I had known that was a thing, but I had assumed that the Savatage performance would be more stripped down. Somewhat, but not really. There was still video and orchestral accompaniment, and moving stage equipment and there were pyrotechnics. To be fair, lots of rock bands do those things. It kind of begs the question of why to have both shows, but maybe they just like it that way. Or maybe they need the break and that's a convenient excuse to give one. Maybe it is a way of segregating the definitely Christmas from the less necessarily Christmas.

All of this is a lot about my thoughts, and not really my feelings, which it is only fair to give. The truth is, my feelings are mixed.

There is a lot of spectacle there, and they go all out in putting on the show. When I considered putting the show on the travel blog, it made sense as a Christmas attraction. There are people who go to see The Nutcracker every year, but there are also people who see it as a thing to do sometimes, or at least once, and I can totally imagine having the same attitude for TSO.

They are pretty bombastic, which is not my favorite thing, but must be popular based on how many movies end up going that way. At the same time, it seemed odd to me how saccharine some of the spoken content was. Still, that may accurately describe a lot of Christmas. I mean, they teamed up with Hallmark Channel, so maybe it all fits.

That's not in any way calling them bad. Listening to their music as I write this is fine. I just don't know that I am ever going to crave listening to them again, and that's fine. If you like them, I hope you get to see them and that the changes don't take anything away from it for you.

Different strokes and all that.

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