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Trans Siberian Orchestra review
March 29, 2010 - Andy Gray
The venues may be smaller; Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s show isn’t.
The progressive classical-rock-metal fusion is showing off its non-Christmas material on a spring tour that played Akron and Cleveland over the weekend. The popularity of the Christmas show has TSO playing arenas nationwide and splitting into two separate units to meet demand.
This tour brings the group back to theaters and gives fans essentially an all-star TSO lineup – fans east of the Mississippi are used to seeing the guitar pyrotechnics of Chris Caffery, but this tour allows them to enjoy Caffery as well as Al Pitrelli, who usually leads the western tour. Surprisingly, Bob Kinkel the band leader for the east lineup, isn’t part of the touring band this time, although he was at the Palace Theatre Saturday night. About 20 musicians and singers makes up the touring unit with several string players hired in each city to supplement the sound.
There were no flash pots on the Palace Theatre stage, but that appeared to be the only one of TSO’s toys left behind as lasers bounced off mirrors mounted on the balcony and three projection screens that looked like archways helped accentuate the story of "Beethoven’s Last Night" with illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt.
With narration by tour veteran Brian Hicks, "Beethoven’s Last Night" played out over about two hours as rocked-up versions of Beethoven classics were woven around TSO creator Paul O’Neill’s originals in a tale about a visit from the devil as the composer completes his 10th symphony.
Broadway veteran Rob Evan ("Jekyll & Hyde," "Les Miserables") lent his forceful tenor to the role of Beethoven and the interplay between Caffery and Pitrelli was a treat for the guitar nuts in the crowd.
The only gripe may have been that "Beethoven’s Last Night" took up so much time that the audience only got to hear a couple tracks from the 2009 release "Night Castle" to wrap up the two-and-a-half hour concert.
While TSO traditionally sells out the Covelli Centre on the Christmas tour, Youngstown isn’t one of the stops for the spring tour. Local fans who want to catch this show will have to go to Erie, Pa., or Pittsburgh this weekend. But judging by the response the band received Saturday, this won’t be the last time TSO tours without any carols in the set list.
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Jay Pierce sings while Chris Caffery plays guitar during TSO's performance Saturday night at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland. (Photo by Bob Jadloski)