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Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra At Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 12/16/07

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Call it a feast for the senses, a near-religious experience, or a stunning display of creativity — those terms all describe holiday shows put on by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The problem is that none of those descriptions do justice to these three-hour multi-media shows that include some 60+ world-class musicians, dancers and singers, pyrotechnics, lasers, hydraulic stage lifts, and at least two stages. Even though the holidays are soon coming to a close, TSO is touring about two more weeks. Do yourself a favor and attend; you won’t be able to contain your enthusiasm

That was certainly true when the Washington, D.C. crowd — that ranged in age from pre-pubescent to senior citizens — filed into the Verizon Center for two shows and couldn’t stop cheering.

Thanks to planning by TSO founder Paul O’Neill, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house – and there won’t be during any of the other concerts either. At each arena, O’Neill blocks the seats with poor views from sale, includes a second, hydraulic-powered stage in the center of the arena, and has performers entertaining in the aisles. Talk about a great view!

Prior to the show, O’Neill spoke about the commitment he has to the band and the audience. He noted that the heart of his commitment is summed up in a statement printed in the concert program which reads in part:

“Last year someone I greatly admire told me that `Whenever anyone buys a ticket to see a band, what they are really doing is accepting a chick or an I.O.U. from the band, a promise to pay the ticket holder an agreed upon date and time with a great show. The purchase is an act of faith or trust that the band will deliver.’ We understand and greatly appreciate that trust and are determined to try to the best of our abilities to never let you down.”

If there’s more that O’Neill or the rest of TSO could have done to deliver to the audience, I can’t think of it.

The show begins with a narrated story from the band’s 1996 double-platinum CD Christmas Eve and Other Stories. The story is punctuated by musical bursts of a host of TSO’s classic holiday songs such as “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” and “A Mad Russian’s Christmas.” The show is somewhat somber and moving as the narrator’s deep baritone booms through the arena.

The real excitement begins when the story ends and the musicians tear into a host of rockers including TSO’s “Wizards in Winter” and “Siberian Sleighride.” As if world-class musicians performing this music weren’t enough, the show is punctuated by a host of effects including snow highlighted by green and purple lasers raining down on the audience.

The lasers, starry-screened backdrops that silhouette the musicians, and special red-and-green lighting adds an extra dimension as the musicians perform song after song including “Proud Mary,” in tribute to the late Ike Turner, and a keyboard duel based on “Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi.

Whatever you do, though, forget trying to beat the rush to the parking lot. Missing even just a few minutes of the show – which often features special guests (such as Blue Oyster Cult’s Buck Dharma of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” fame) and always a meet-and-greet with members – is something you’ll regret.

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About Nancy Dunham

  • Johnm2418

    While the show is a feast for the eyes and ears, you do need to be ready for a heavy metal version of Christmas music. By heavy metal, I mean over amplified to the point of ear pain and distorted to point of not being musical.

    I enjoyed their creativity and thought the concepts are great. I like their music when listened to at home where I can control the volume and the level of speaker distortion.

    If you are going to listen to music – I would hesitate unless you are a heavy metal fan. If you are open to optical shows and heavy metal loud music – by all means – you will love the show.


  • Sherry

    i liked the IOU from the band to the ticket holder tidbit…i’ve seen the orchestra before and it is a cool cool show

  • Lily P

    I’ve been to the last 6 concerts of the TSO here in San Diego and they never disappoint. Best concert ever. Come and enjoy the concert.