Two Sundays ago I surprised Chrystie with floor seats to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) concert at the HP Pavilion. She took me last year and it was such a great experience in the lower bowl seats we had, I just couldn’t resist getting floor seats this year. I’ve been to more than a few concerts in my time, but they all pale in comparison to TSO.
You may see “orchestra” and think classical snoozefest, but TSO is a rock orchestra that plays metal versions of classical and holiday music in addition to rock operas. They also have a laser show and pyrotechnics that melt your face. Perhaps I’ve only been to lame shows, but my pre-TSO experience with pyrotechnics at live concerts was Blink 182 opening their set in the dark and setting large letters “F-U-C-K” ablaze, and numerous shows with dinky fireworks going off at the end of the show. I can say with certainty that I’ve never seen flamethrowers used at a concert before, granted they’re not your traditional flamethrowers, still, they’re large guns that they aim and shoot balls of fire at the audience. The show and pyrotechnics were perfectly choreographed to the songs to really get everyone into it. Among their non-holiday songs are some songs about war, one in particular had a (simulated) helicopter attack with machine gun fire (squibs) exploding on stage and pyres of fire lighting up the Pavilion while toasting the faces of the audience with intense bursts of heat.
If the music and pyrotechnics weren’t enough, the choreography of the performers was great. To open the show, the main guitarist, bassist and violinist made an impressive entrance by descending from the rafters on small platforms while performing “An Angel Came Down” and swaying above the stage with seemingly no restraints. For a few songs, two walkways descended from the rafters and the performers ran out and played above the audience, for some others one or two performers descended and played part of the song on a stage behind the floor seats and then ran past the audience up to the stage.
The first half of the show was a Christmas rock opera with various Christmas songs from their three Christmas albums. They added to the mood by having (fake) snow falling during part of the performance, and while I could have done with a few less slow sleepy vocal solos, the metal versions of Christmas songs interspersed between them were quite awesome.
The second half of the show was filled with original scores such as their “Wizards in Winter” of internet fame and metal versions of classical songs like Mozart’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”.
The show ended with a mind-blowing performance and a flurry of fireworks that brought the audience to their feet. TSO does so much to get you into the show it’s simply amazing how well they pull it off.
Now if everything in the show weren’t enough, most, if not all of the performers came out after the show to give autographs and shake hands with fans. Chrystie and I waited about 45 minutes, but we got a lithograph poster signed by all of them. There were maybe 200 people waiting in line, and every last person got to meet the performers and get autographs, generosity you don’t often see from performers.
This was easily the best live musical show I’ve ever seen – I can’t wait to see them again next winter.