Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trans-Siberian sensory assault

Last night had been the night I'd been waiting for all semester long. It would serve as the grand finale, a "last blast" to an absolutely insane Fall semester at Iowa. I knew that my $50 ticket was money well spent, as this is my third time seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra, at the I-Wireless Center in Moline, IL.

In case you're (sadly) unfamiliar with the group, TSO is an elaborate crew consisting of several guitar players, two keyboardists, scores of vocalists, an orchestra and two electric violinists, that crank out some of the most unique interpretations of classic Christmas and Classical music you've ever heard. TSO was formed in New York, by Paul O'Neill, and there are two sets of performers that tour simultaneously nationwide, usually in and around the holiday season.

Not only was this concert the end of the semester for me, it is also the perfect way to start thinking about the holiday celebrations to come.

Now, TSO is widely known for their spectacular live performances. At any given time in the nearly three-hour set, there are at least 15 people on stage, save for maybe a few simpler numbers. The first half of the show is the Christmas-themed portion of the show, blasting through songs off of their three Christmas albums, but mostly sticking to the "Christmas Eve & Other Stories" album. Complete with narration, the story of keeping the faith, in Christmas spirit, life, and humanity is ever present, and incredibly inspiring. The previously mentioned album is heavily focused on this, particularly in the song "Old City Bar:"

(Note: These are not my videos from the show I went to...but I was in the CENTER of ROW 7!!!! Sorry, I'm still kind of freaking out about it!!)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra does a remarkable job at keeping the audience engaged. Don't let the "Orchestra" bit fool you. With solos and (literally) blinding light displays, should you get bored, you might want to question how alive you really are. The second half of the concert is primarily dedicated to their more rockin' numbers, with wintry modern classics such as "Queen of the Winter Night," "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo, 12/24," and "Wizards in Winter:"

TSO does not skimp on quality in the slightest, as can be seen and heard from the video above, the musicianship and light spectacular that they present each and every night they perform, is simply stunning. Each musician puts forth all their energy and might for a fantastic performance. Being so close to the musicians, for the first time, I was able to see on their faces just how much fun they were having up there!

The show finally closed with a song from the "Beethoven's Last Night" album: "Requiem: The Fifth." This song truly is the culmination of all the tasty goodness we have been experiencing for hours (and honestly, I wish it could have gone on forever). This is where the band, crew, everyone goes all-out, complete with pyrotechnics, fireworks, every strobe light available, the list goes on and on. We were able to feel the flames shooting on stage, and actually started to sweat a bit because it was so persistent. The lights were blinding, but somehow it made the experience all the more enjoyable.

As we left the I-Wireless Center, the arena in a dense fog, all I could think of is how excited I am to see it all over again next year.

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