Did anybody see the Trib's assessment of last Thursday's Trans-Siberian Orchestra's concert in Salt Lake City? David Burger opined that the almost three-hour TSO show was exhaustingly long and with questionable content at times, most notably with the addition of the Beatles tune "Help." Burger appeared surprised that a band with the longevity, talent, and reputation of the TSO wouldn't get their show right. While I share a few of his sentiments, the TSO concert was far from a train wreck.
As a first-time TSO concert-goer, I was wowed by the chromatic laser lights - which were at times as bright as going for an eye exam - synchronized with the thunderous music that vibrated through every seat in the ESA. And yet, the musicians didn't play second fiddle to the stage effects. One of my first notes was that everyone should see this concert. The energy of millions of lights and talented TSO electric guitarists and violinistas made this fall's Aussie Pink Floyd concert seem comparatively lifeless. After hearing "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony," near the opening, my friend and I listened for and heard trademark rock-i-fied Christmas carols early in the program ... "O Come All Ye Faithful," "A Mad Russian Christmas," and "Christmas in Sarajevo."
TSO is really two performing companies, TSO East and TSO West. Like every major band I have seen this year, TSO's program is choreographed ("rock-by-the-numbers" as Burger said) because of the light show designed to maximize the impact of the musical lineup. And in reality, even country cowboy singers Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley have stage productions choreographed to accommodate video, a strategy which downplays the crowd interaction and spontaneity.
TSO West's musicians, including the Salt Lake Strings, were superb. Beethoven could have scarcely dreamed of an electric guitar playing beside his beloved violin. The racing keyboardists kept every tempo and volume alive during the show. And the vocalists, for the most part, had Broadway-quality voices. (Yes, I have been to Broadway, in fact as recently as this year, fyi.)
Disclosure: Admission price for this event was $60. I received NO compensation for this review.