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Concert Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra – 4/27/11

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
4/27/11
Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Florida

My second time seeing TSO and understandably the show was a bit scaled back compared to what they do on their winter tours. Oh, don’t worry, they still have the full orchestra and band, smoke, fire, lazers, video screens, etc. It was just a smaller stage than when I saw them back in 2009 and that’s not because the Civic Center couldn’t handle a full show. As far as I know, the “Beethoven’s Last Night Tour” is the group’s first non-holiday tour so while they can pack ’em in during the holidays, they were probably just being cautious as to how well this tour will be received. I was actually a bit surprised to see them only making use of about a fourth of the arena. It was packed though so I would estimate around 3,000 people were there since the entire arena holds up to 12,000.

Obviously, being called the “Beethoven’s Last Night Tour”, the majority of the evening was devoted to the Beethoven’s Last Night album that was released in 2000 (which was their first non-holiday album). I have never heard that album in its entirety but I think anyone who is a fan of their holiday shows would also enjoy the music here. It’s all done in the same rock/metal/classical style,  it just isn’t about Christmas.

I knew Beethoven’s Last Night probably wasn’t going to be the whole show and luckily it wasn’t. For the encore, things got a bit heavier as the band played a few numbers from Night Castle and also a few Savatage songs as well (“Sleep” and “Chance”). The Beethoven was filled with tons of great songs but I really like all the encore numbers just because they were much heavier and darker. That’s when TSO really showed their heavy metal roots and reminded you that without Savatage, TSO may have never existed.

As for the performances, of course everyone was spot-on all night long. The core of Trans-Siberian Orchestra is Savatage so there was Al Pitrelli & Chris Caffery on guitar, Jeff Plate on drums and Johnny Lee Middleton on bass. I gotta say it was great seeing Pitrelli live, that guy is a monster (as one point during the Beethoven part of the show, he stopped to play a little Hendrix). The last time I saw TSO it was Caffery & Skolnick. Also, another highlight was seeing THE Jeff Scott Soto in person. He played the part of Mephistopheles and what a voice! He also came out for the encore and sang “Another Way You Can Die”. Two other great vocalists I should point out are Rob Evan (who played Beethoven) and Andrew Ross. Narrator Bryan Hicks did a tremendous job as well.

All the other musicians were fantastic like violinist Roddy Chong and all the female vocalists were mind-blowingly good (and sexy!) as well. Everyone is worth mentioning by name but you must forgive me because I can’t seem to find any tour credits at this moment.

While the entire Beethoven album is littered with many great songs, I have to say the encore is what I liked best. I love it when TSO gets fast and furious and heavy and that did definitely that. And it’s a good thing they chose to close the show with a cover of Savatage’s “Chance” because that song is an absolute show-stopper. Everyone came out on stage and it was a great way to cap off the night.

Set List:

Overture
Midnight
Fate
What Good This Deafness
Mephistopheles
What Is Eternal
Mozart and Memories
Vienna
Mozart / Figaro
The Dreams of Candlelight
Requiem (The Fifth)
The Dark
Für Elise
After the Fall
A Last Illusion
This Is Who You Are
Beethoven
Misery
Who Is This Child
A Final Dream

Encore:

Toccata – Carpimus Noctem
The Mountain
Sleep
Better Listen To This
Another Way You Can Die
Carmina Burana
Chance

www.trans-siberian.com

W.E.T. – W.E.T.

W.E.T. – W.E.T. (2009, Frontiers Records)

1. “Invincible” … 3:52
2. “One Love” … 3:58
3. “Brothers In Arms” … 4:49
4. “Come Down Like Rain” … 4:43
5. “Running From The Heartache” … 4:29
6. “I’ll Be There” … 4:46
7. “Damage Is Done” … 3:27
8. “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” … 3:16
9. “One Day At A Time” … 5:04
10. “Just Go” … 4:27
11. “My Everything” … 3:21
12. “If I Fall” … 6:09

Musicians:
Jeff Scott Soto – Lead Vocals
Erik Martensson – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Robert Sall – Guitar
Magnus Henriksson – Guitar
Robban Back – Drums

Producer: Erik Martensson

Frontiers Records has gotten me in the mood and right mindset for melodic rock lately. It’s not a genre I pretend to have an in-depth knowledge in but I know good music when I hear it and this project featuring Jeff Scott Soto (the main drawing point for me) is a really strong effort that sometimes reminds me of House of Lords because it rocks a bit harder than a lot of melodic bands do. Rounding out the core of W.E.T. is Robert Sall (from the band Work of Art), Erik Martensson (Eclipse) and Jeff Scott Soto provides the “T” from his old band Talisman. From what I’ve read, this album actually came to be at the request of Frontiers Records who wanted another melodic rock release from Soto. Well, that request has paid off in a major way!

The more I listen to this album, the more I like it. I had planned on buying it a while back, but the samples just didn’t grab me but with each spin, the power of the album is coming through more and more. It’s easy to see why this made the rounds on many rock sites as one of 2009’s best releases — there’s no filler! Every song is catchy, filled with hooks and choruses and you’ll get sucked in and start singing along before you know it.

The great guitar work of Erik Martensson is worth noting and really brings this album up a level in intensity but the highpoint for me is Jeff Scott Soto’s vocals. I’ve been a fan of his since I first heard him. He’s such an amazing and powerful singer and I know he experiments with different types of music, but his voice really was made for music like this.

“Invincible”, “One Love”, “Running From The Heartache” and “If I Fall” (which sounds like a lost Journey song) are the best of the best from an album that I can only believe is a modern masterpiece of melodic rock.

Highlights: “Invincible”, “One Love”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Comes Down Like Rain”, “Running From The Heartache”,  “One Day At A Time”, “If I Fall”

www.myspace.com/wetrocks

Upcoming Reviews

Occasionally, I’ll do one of these posts where I list what I’ll be reviewing in the upcoming days. It’s as much for me as it is for any readers out there because it helps keep me motivated and on task.

Though I’m nowhere near being done with reviewing my personal collection, we’re now getting to the point where I’m like “eh, I don’t really feel like listening to this album”. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great albums left I haven’t covered yet, in fact, some of them are my favorite albums period but the the pickings are indeed starting to get slim when it comes to quality, if not quantity.

New music isn’t a problem though. Tons of new music is constantly coming into my house, it’s all just a matter of having enough time to digest these albums so that I can give some decent thoughts on them.

Without anymore rambling, here’s what I should be reviewing soon (with maybe a few surprises thrown in along the way)…

Spin Gallery – Embrace
Jaded Heart – Perfect Insanity
W.E.T. – W.E.T.
Jeff Scott Soto – One Night in Madrid DVD
Keel – The Right to Rock [25th Anniversary Edition]
Starz – Starz
Hansel – Never Say Die

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