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Old 12-06-2006, 10:06 PM
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Arrow Trans-Siberian Orchestra -- Oakland, CA -- December 3rd, 2006

Sorry for being a few days late on this one. This isn't going to be a huge writeup because I really don't have a great fund of knowledge on TSO anyways (though I had seen them live previously in 2004 and have their most recent album). I couldn't give the setlist for the life of me, but I'm pretty sure it's the same or close to the same as the one DethMaiden posted in his review.

This show was a rare thing for me as concerts go; a family event. My whole family, plus my aunt, uncle, and grandparents went together. It was pretty cool this way, and on a brisk December evening in the Bay Area the evening had a very pleasant Christmas feel to it. We got their about an hour early, had some beverages and snacks, then settle into our seats, which were excellent btw. Not on the floor, but perfectly in the center behind the soundboard area in the first row above the floor, which later proved to be truly the ideal spot as the show unfolded.

For those who don't know, Trans Siberian Orchestra are made up of some metal musicians (mostly ex-Savatage guys, but Alex Skolnick has played with them as well) and classical musicians to create a truly unique blend of rock, classical, and opera in a fantastic setting. With each year their budget has increased, and with it has their ability to splurge for massive stage productions increased. Musically they sound exactly like I would imagine Savatage sounding if they decided to play classical music. Brainchild Paul O'Neill really put together something special with this group.

Before the show started unfortunately I had to endure listening to one of the most horrible conversations I have ever heard. Two kids, probably 13 or 14 years old, were talking about the Dragonforce/All That Remains concert, Guns 'N Roses, and Trivium, all in the span of about 2 minutes I wanted to punch them both badly, or at least get up and leave, but I decided to sit idly by sipping my lemonade and trying to block it out as much as possible. After a bit guitarist Al Pitrelli (also formerly of Megadeth fame) came out and did a little speech about the proceeds from the show going to cancer charity,and the lights went down for the show to begin.

If you think you've seen a show, I mean a real awe-inspiring stage production, and you haven't seen TSO, you ain't seen shit son. I've seen Rush, I've seen Tool, I've seen Maiden, I've seen Mindcrime done live, and none of them can compare to the production these ladies and gentlemen put on. The light show was spectacular, and they even had the whole lighting rig moving at times. During the first set (the Christmas set) they again had the fake snow come down from the roof, like if instead of blood Slayer rained snow when they played "Raining Blood" The pyros were as usual outstanding, but the real kicker was the riser they had set up on the platform of the soundboard area. The guitarist and one of the outstanding opera singers got up on it at one point and it lifted about 20 feet in the area. I've never seen anything like it, kinda of like something you think you only see in the movies. Thankfully we were in perfect position to see it, as those on the floor in front either missed it entirely or had to turn their heads around to watch the spectacle. It even had explosions going off too! Fucking phenomenal shit, such an entertaining show to watch.

From a musical standpoint, these are some of the most insanely talented people out there. They didn't have Skolnick or Chris Caffery on guitar as they apparently did at other shows, but the guys they had were just nuts. One of them actually came up to our seat with his wireless on and waved to my little sister, who got a kick out of that. The whole atmosphere of the show was friendly and relaxed, and it was so obvious how much these people love playing and performing. They're all characters too; lots of great jokes and funny stories the whole night, and Pitrelli's son was in attendance with his Marine Corps buddies so they were mentioned a few times in the evening. His wife always plays the keyboard/piano and had an insane solo battle with this other guy who graducated with a Masters in music from Juliard's. There were some funny comments relating to the difference between their backgrounds too, but all to show that it doesn't matter whether you were raised on Bach or Skynyrd, or if you graudated from one of the most prestigious music schools in the world or completed one semester of community college, you can still be outstanding with your talents. The various other players were all just amazing as well, from the violinist to the singers to the bass player, it was truly a world class performance.

Coming in to the show I really didn't know what to expect, except that the sound would almost certainly be way better. HP Pavilion is probably the shittiest sounding venue I've ever been, whereas Oakland Arena is a great place especially for being so big. The sound definitely did not disappoint. Every instrument and aspect of the sound was absolutely pristine, almost too crystal clear at times where you wondered if they were using backing tracks. It was also louder than last time, pretty good volume for this type of show. The first half of course paled in comparison to the free-flowing second half (which included a stellar version of "Carmina Burana" too), but I still enjoyed the Christmas theme and the actors were genius. I really can't stress enough how talented these individuals are. This one black female singer had I think the greatest vocal range of any singer I've ever heard, making guys like Mike Patton sound almost amateurish in comparison. Every single facet of the show was brilliant.

It's safe to say that this concert blew away the last show in 2004, and really got me excited about this band. I've been actually listening to 'The Lost Christmas Eve' lately and there's some damn cool stuff in there. It was a great way to cap this tremendous year in concert going for me (well, I've still got De La Fuente on friday but that's local) and got me full-on into the Christmas spirirt I cannot recommend this show enough, if only to see that production. It'd be neat to see them doing a non-Christmas show though I think, because they'd get more people to their shows this way appealing to a wider audience (even though it was still sold out). They promised something even bigger next time, and I cannot wait Great, great show.

Last edited by ADD; 12-06-2006 at 10:20 PM.
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