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Steve Haynie

Saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra Yesterday Afternoon

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Christmas is such a wonderful time.  Snow can be beautiful sometimes.  A friend who loves Trans-Siberian Orchestra had a ticket for the afternoon show in Greenville, South Carolina.  Her Christmas wish to see TSO again should have come true, but she woke up around 1:00 PM (she works 3rd shift) to see nearly eight inches of snow on the ground in Asheville, North Carolina with more coming down in the evening.  Greenville would have a little snow and some sleet in the evening, but her worry was being able to drive safely as she got closer to home.  Guess what?  I got a free ticket to see TSO! 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two units touring at the same time, one doing East region shows and the other doing West region shows.  I have no idea where they divide them up.  South Carolina gets the East Coast version of TSO. 

There were two shows scheduled, one at 4:00 PM and another at 8:00 PM.  Because of the snow and slush on the roads, traffic was slower than normal with a couple extra traffic accidents around the area.  I could feel the roads getting a little slippery in places, but there was no problem getting into a parking garage.  Both TSO shows at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena were virtually sold out in what was probably a 16,000 seating arrangement.  The place holds 17,300 for a hockey game.  There were less than 40 tickets available for the afternoon show which included floor seats that may have been released that morning by the promoter, and maybe 20 for the evening show that were all up in the highest altitude area.  That meant there were a lot of extra cars in the city during the daytime.  The thought of what a mess there would be when people would be trying to leave the early show as people arrived for the evening show came to mind. 

I parked and then took a photo of at least 12 tractor/trailers parked in a row along one of the streets.  KISS does not even use that many trucks.  As I was leaving the parking garage there was a man coming back in with a purse and telling women they could not bring normal purses and bags into the arena, only clear bags.  One woman said she had a clear bag in her bag, so she took it out and put the big bag inside the clear bag.  Technically that should have made it OK to take everything in.  I wonder how that worked out.  I went in the building and got ready for a good time.  My seat was on the side of the bowl just far enough front to see all of the performers from a frontal view, but close enough to see their faces.  I would find out that the performers were just out of range of my camera for getting clear shots.  A big curtain was in front of the stage, and the light rig was sticking out past it.  I had no idea what I would see.

The show started and I saw the biggest stage and light rig I have ever seen.  It was also the most well designed concert stage I have ever seen.  The lights were the most advanced I have ever seen, too.  There were lifts in the stage and out by the mixing console.  It has been a while since I have seen lazers used in concert.  The lazers were far better and had more colors than anything I have seen in the past, and I go to a LOT of concerts.  Considering that TSO can sell out two shows a day in a large venue, they ought to be able to afford such a large show. 

Now for the musical review.  The local string section and the keyboards mask the metal, but the metal guys still stand out.  The musical director was one of the keyboard players, Derek Wieland, but it was a guitar player named Chris Caffery doing all the talking to the audience.  He switched guitars a few times, playing a Flying V, Les Paul, and some super Strats that included at least on Dean.  The other guitar player was Joel Hoekstra who will be coming back through in the summer as part of Whitesnake.  He played Strat shaped guitars and one with a Tele shaped body.  The bass player, Tony Dickinson, used a Music Man StingRay with two pickups.  The drummer was Jeff Plate.  Occasionally one of the male singers played guitar, too.  Now amps were seen anywhere. 

Chris Caffery has to love his job.  He and the violinist, Roddy Chong, walked through the audience at least three times.  Caffery walked up the stairs by my section at least twice.  Both of them played on a satellite stage and lift by the mixing board.  It is hard to figure out who had the most time playing guitar solos, but it may have been Caffery, and he is good.  It would be nice to know what else he has done. 

There were five girl singers and three male singers.  In different groupings they acted as a chorus, backup singers, or they sang individually.  One of the guys singing with TSO is Russell Allen of Adrenaline Mob.  Each of the girls sang in a different style when they took lead vocal spots.  Four of them sang in the first part of the show. 

The show began with a narrated story that lasted about 90 minutes, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.  When it was over it was like the band was through with being nice.  They cranked it up a notch and played heavier.  The fifth girl singer was a part of that.  Her name is Kayla Reeves, and she has been discussed here before.  That girl was a total rock and roll chick who made me want to learn more about her.  The Christmas vibe of the show seemed to be pushed aside toward the end.  It was a full on rock concert, and all those people in the audience outside the normal age range of growing up on heavy metal just had to deal with it.  The band hammered away. 

Shows still run through the end of the month.  If good seats open up within a day or two of the show, GO see it.  It was two and a half hours worth seeing, especially for free!  I wish I could have seen it twice.  According to the friend who gave me the ticket, if you see a late show the band will come out and meet people afterward. 

I crossed sleet covered slippery sidewalks back to the parking garage where it took 45 minutes to get out.  The streets were either clear and wet, or covered in sleet and slippery.  Wouldn't you know it, I tried to take a short cut and got on a steep hill.  I made it downhill s l o w l y to avoid skidding.  That 8:00 PM show would have been worth seeing in a 200 level seat. 

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Chris was in Savatage. I got into TSO before I knew about Savatage. They really do put on a rocking show. We've seen them at least twice.

 

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A few years ago, my wife and (then high-school aged) daughter went to see TSO.  Their seats weren’t great, with the view partially blocked, but it was the sort of thing that wouldn’t have been apparent until the TSO stage was set up in that particular arena.  Then, right before show time, the crew came out and personally escorted everyone in the affected area to better seats down front.  For their trouble, they gave the people gifts.  My daughter got an honest-to-goodness real black stage crew T-shirt, which identified the show as being part of the “Light It, Fog It, Blow It Up Tour”.  

They loved the show and she wears that shirt to this day.

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                                                             I have been to many of their concerts here in Minnesota,last time i d saw them was in 2016 at Target Center.................still have a old 2006 T shirt I wear to work .................my wife and I love this group!:wub: They have had some fine guitarists................my fav is Al Pitrelli. A wonderful group ..........glad you got to see them!:)

Edited by ARM OF HAMER
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I've caught TSO 3 times in the last 10 years and they've never failed to entertain. That being said, it's essentially the same shit pumped out with more and more pyrotechnics and lasers. Last years show we saw from a bit high up but still had a decent vantage. We dragged some good friends who ended up being a tough sell on it. She's 60 something and doesn't particularly like hard rock and falls asleep before 9 PM most nights. He's not quite 50 with a bit of a musical background and a sizeable amount of opinion on what "good" music is. Long story short: they were ready to cut out before the second half of the show was wrapping up and the encore was getting ready to begin. I enjoyed it but not nearly as much as the first one I saw when at the end, the Jon Anderson joined them onstage and they tore through 3 YES classics- Roundabout, Starship Trooper and I've Seen All Good People (I think) THAT was a show to remember!

From last years show:

image.png

Edited by diablo175
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On 12/9/2017 at 1:19 PM, Brooks said:

great review

 

I agree with Brooks, great review Steve

 

Edited by Ed Rechts

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6 hours ago, diablo175 said:

the Jon Anderson joined them onstage and they tore through 3 YES classics- Roundabout, Starship Trooper and I've Seen All Good People (I think) THAT was a show to remember!

 

But no "Seminole Wind"?  Dang!

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