As you already know, I attended the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert last night, and wrote a review for Monday’s Herald. There were many good things about the concert, but it ultimately felt too long and could have been improved in a couple of ways.
I liked the lights and lasers the best – their light setup is incredible, probably the best light show I’ve ever seen at a concert. The lasers were cool too, especially when everything was sequenced along to the music – it was all really great to watch. There were plenty of other stage theatrics during the show – pyrotechnics were often used, including some cool ones that made the whole stage look like it was on fire, and who could forget the part when a violinist and guitarist got onto a platform that lifted about 30 feet over the crowd as they rocked out?
I’ll pass on describing the music, other than saying it isn’t exactly my cup of tea. The heavy metal and classical music influences were obvious, and combined together with a huge cast of musicians and performers all doing traditional and original Christmas music, their talent was apparent. But while the lights were great throughout the show, the middle of the concert definitely felt like it hit a brickwall – it was just too long, and many of the songs in the middle were too slow to be all that interested in. And the lasers helped keep the excitement, but it’s kind of like an amusement park – riding on a rollercoaster is really fun and exciting at first, and still thrilling for a while, but if you just kept going on the rollercoaster continuously for three hours, you would start to lose your interest in what’s going on.
That was my main problem with the show – it lasted for three hours, which is a great deal for the price (tickets were $25-$55). But there was no break – it just kept going on and on, and the seats on the floor (where I was sitting) were very close together so it started to get a little uncomfortable by the end. It was good that it started at 4 p.m., rather early for a concert, because it was so long – I think this has got to be about the longest time I’ve ever seen a single band perform continuously. The length probably could be trimmed down rather easily if they got rid of the narrator, my other beef with the concert. The narrator had a really cool voice and the idea sounds cool, but he was reading a weird modern-day Christmas tale that was so full of itself it was doomed to not work. I tried to follow along with the message, which was hard to do since the narrator would read for 5 minutes followed by 15 minutes of lasers and smoke and hair tossing and epic singing, but even then the story didn’t make sense. And it didn’t matter. It really didn’t. It would be like having someone read random paragraphs from Moby Dick in between songs at a concert – it doesn’t add anything, takes itself far too seriously and just becomes a distraction more than anything else. Maybe if they had better writers… but I just thought it was worthless and just dragged the concert on even longer.
Ultimately, TSO was interesting to watch and it was clear why so many people look forward to the show – it all was pretty impressive and mind-blowing to take in. But if I were to ever go again, I’d seriously think about just showing up halfway into the concert so I don’t have to sit through so much melodrama. (Note: All photos on this post are courtesy of TSO’s 2009 press page, and were not taken at the Alerus Center performance)