23 November 2008
Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Jobing.com Arena 11/23/2008
When I think about the monumental task of trying to describe a Trans Siberian Orchestra show, the first thing I have to do is remind myself that it's not a show. It transcends that bland label. It is an experience. The music is an important element of that experience, but there is so much more going on that makes it only a part of the experience rather than the entirety of it.
It begins with a sort of story, based on their 2004 concept album, I believe. In fact, they may have even played it in its entirety, I'm not familiar enough. The story is complete with a narrator and even an actor for one part of the story. It's a slightly cheesy story, but what Christmas story isn't? It's also heart warming. When the show gets started, half of the rock portion of the band is not on stage, but joins in about the middle, from the ceiling. They descend on platforms suspended on small wires, and the platforms shake while the musicians are rocking out.
When the full band is on stage, they rotate through many amazingly talented vocalists, supported by a stellar lights show, lasers, pyrotechnics, and even a few fireworks in their hit Christmas Eve in Sarajevo. But after about an hour to an hour and a half, the story ends. I give the standing ovation and prepare to leave, when the band is being announced on stage, but then the guy with the mic says "Alright, go ahead and sit down folks." So I sit, and he says that with that out of the way, we are now entering the part of the show where we will rock out and have a blast.
I had thought that during their story, all the stops has already been pulled out. After all, it was phenomenal. But The second half of the show blew it away. More fireworks, pyrotechnics, and lasers of course. But a stage they hadn't even used in the first half made its appearance too. It was in the middle of the arena floor. At one point, one of the girl singers came out of the floor onto that platform to sing between it and the stage, eventually waltzing amongst the crowd up to the stage to finish the song. Later on, towards the finale, one of the guitarists and one of the violinists wandered into the crowd and got on that stage, which proceeded to jump up a good 30 feet while they sang and danced on it.
Musically, they played a good mix of stuff from all albums, including songs from Beethoven even, which was unexpected in a Christmas themed concert. They also played new songs, and the new songs might have been some of the best songs they've ever written. Rarely do you think that the first time you hear a band's new songs. There was also a spattering of fun musical allusions throughout the show, my favorites being Kashmir (Led Zeppelin) and the Peanuts theme.
Despite the length of this review, it feels incomplete. I haven't even touched on so many amazing things that were incorporated. Unfortunately, I feel it is absolutely true that the only possible way for someone to get a feel for this show is to see it live. Unfortunately, they won't be back until the next holiday season.
Fortunately, you can still see one of the most amazing live performances ever devised, you'll just have to wait.