If you haven't seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you've probably heard them in the soundtrack to that guy's Christmas lights down the block. You know the house - he's got a low power radio station playing Yuletide heavy metal synced to his lights. Some of that music is most likely from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the heavily touring rock band known for several CDs and an annual Christmas tour.
Roddy Chong and Caitlin Moe of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform a violin duet. (other photos: 1, 2, 3)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is a guilty pleasure to me, I suppose. Why guilty? because although they're actually good musicians, they involve way too much unnecessary hair tossing in performances and employ lots of fire, lasers and fog. They'd sound good "unplugged" but of course, I really like all of the flash and bang, and so do arenas full of paying customers, the numbers of which my usual 1970's prog rock bands would love to be able to pull in. In fact, the show is so popular that logistics compelled the formation of two distinct touring companies - east and west - with one company or the other sometimes doing two shows a day.
TSO is a lot of fun to photograph - that is, when you're allowed to do so. In the four TSO concerts I've seen in as many years, the camera policies have been confusing but point-and-shoot cameras are often allowed. The Christmas show photos in this post are from 2010 at Wichita's Intrust Bank Arena, 2009 at Tulsa's BOK Center and 2007 at the now-retired Kansas Coliseum near Wichita. Under that there are some from a summer 2010 performance of a different show. I'm including so many photos because of the large amount of hits on a previous post that had a few TSO photos.
Al Pitrelli, co-founder, musical director and guitarist, has played with two of my faves: Alice Cooper and Asia.
(other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Pitrelli's wife, Jane Mangini, plays keyboards. (another photo)
The very soulful vocalist, Jeff Scott Soto, has also performed with Brian May of Queen and did a stint as the lead singer for Journey. (other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
Vocalist Erin Henry (another photo)
There's a very retro feel to some of the numbers. Dig the boots. (other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Some TSO segments remind me of what might have resulted if fantasy artist Frank Frazetta worked on the opening sequence for a James Bond film.
Fire adds to almost anything, don't you think? (another photo)
Bart Shatto plays a bum in TSO's usual Christmas drama and has also played Quincey Morris in a stage production of Dracula. (more photos: 1, 2, 3, 4)
Tony Gaynor narrated the TSO west show when I saw it in 2009. (other photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Phillip Brandon has the job in 2010. From my seat it was difficult to get a photo of him without the microphone in front of one eye.
At two points in the show, snow machines kick on and drop the stuff onto the floor section of the audience. Up close, the snowflakes are little soapy bubbles. (another photo)
Derek Wieland was on keyboards for TSO west in 2009. (other photos: 1, 2)
Vitalij Kuprij is on keyboards in 2010.
Caitlin Moe, violin
(other photos: 1, 2, 3,4,5, 6, 7, 8)
Tommy Farese, vocals (other photos: 1, 2)
Andrew Ross, vocals (other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
John O. Reilly, Drums
It's hard to tell TSO guitarists Angus Clark and Chris Altenhoff apart in odd lighting. (other photos: 1, 2, 3)
Sometimes the show utilizes an elevating platform on the rear of the arena floor. This is a good thing for those in the nosebleed seats. This year they have catwalks over the audience. (other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
(other general photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Beethoven's Last Night
TSO also had a show touring this past Spring. Beethoven's Last Night is a musical exploring what might have happened had the composer been tempted by Mephistopheles.
For Beethoven's Last Night, a friend and I had front row seats at Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall (venue photo link 1, 2, 3) on April 27, 2010.
The row was largely empty save for us and these people. Maybe folks were too afraid of TSO's reputation for lots of fire to grab front row. It turned out the pyrotechnics were not used for this show; it was stripped down as far as special effects but did use lasers and fog. With the special effects boiled away, what's left in the crucible is the talent of the musicians, which turns out to be considerable.
Robert Evan plays Beethoven on the last night of his life. (other photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 8)
Bryan Hicks, narrates. (other photos 1, 2, 3)
Jeff Scott Sotto plays Mephistopheles. (other photos 1, 2, 3)
Jay Pierce, vocals
(other photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Chloe Lowery, vocals (other photos 1 and 2)
Vitalij Kuprij, keyboards
John Brink, vocals
Jeff Plate, drums
Chris Caffery on guitar shows some of the hair wave physics TSO is known for. (another photo)
Like their regular Christmas show, TSO's Beethoven's Last Night has its little bit of over-drama. In this case the plot actually kinda makes sense and is moving nicely when an orphan in the snow is introduced to fire up the tear ducts. Feeling the attempt at emotional manipulation, I resisted the urge to shout something about reducing the surplus population. (other photos: 1, 2)
Musical Director Al Pitrelli (left) is on guitar and John Lee Middleton is on bass. (other photos: 1, 2, 3)
Pitrelli (more photos: 1, 2, 3)
Chloe Lowery, Valentina Porter, April Berry, Danielle Landherr and Bryan Hicks (other photos: 1, 2, 3)
A somewhat puzzled Al Pitrelli holds Ace Jackalope.