December 30, 2001

As I write this it's Monday, 12/31/01. Christmas was last week, and I really don't feel like listening to anymore holiday music. So to get me in the mood to write this, I'm listening to Beethoven's Last Night, the non-holiday CD from Trans Siberian Orchestra. It's a fictitious retelling of Beethoven's final days, and how he dealt with his deafness and romance and obsession, etc. It's very much like listening to a Broadway score, but with a lot of guitar to help me cope.

Last night however, was all about the holidays. Trans Siberian Orchestra took the stage and put on a 2 hour show entitled Christmas Eve and Other Stories, the name of their first CD. They played practically every track from that one, but they did it in a story format, with a narrator talking between songs.

When that part of the show was over, they played some other songs; songs from the first CD that didn't really fit the story, songs from the second CD, A Christmas Attic, and some of the Beethoven stuff.

I was curious going in as to what the audience for this concert was gonna be like…
See, Trans Siberian Orchestra does indeed have sweet melodies, strings and keyboards and some pretty vocals, but it comes from the mind of creative genius Paul O'Neill, the long time producer and songwriter for my favorite band, SAVATAGE. In fact, I dunno how many of the older, more clean cut and sophisticated members of the audience are aware that the genesis of Trans Siberian Orchestra actually comes out of a Savatage song, TSO's biggest hit, "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24". That song originally appeared on Savatage's concept album about the horrors of war in Sarajevo, Dead Winter Dead. A couple of years after that is when TSO suddenly appeared on the scene, with members of Savatage along for the ride. They appeared on the CDs, and also toured with TSO.
But TSO has become kind of big, in a small, cultish sorta way, so what has happened now is that there are two TSOs touring silmutaneously, TSO East and TSO West. There were actually some members of Savatage touring with the East squad, but for whatever reason, our show was performed by the West team, and it was the final show of the tour, so we got a special treat in that the show became more a party thing towards the end, and the audience was really into it.

What made it so awesome for me was that my favorite guitarist, Al Pitrelli, who hasn't been with Savatage for a couple of years now (he's since joined Megadeth…yeah, Megadeth!) was there! Al Pitrelli fucking ROCKS!!!
This man just wails on the guitar, and wails is the key word here, because he makes that thing cry! I love his solos…and I also really like the fact that he's this respected guitarist…a rock and roll journeyman who's actually played with the likes of Asia and Dee Snider among others. So for me, the concert was a big success. It did seem a little long at times, when Pitrelli's guitar wasn't being shown off (even though the other guitarist on stage, his first name was Angus, but I don't recognize him, was very good too…but come on, there's only one Al Pitrelli!), but overall this concert was great. Actually, Pitrelli's family was seated right behind us, kids, parents, grandparents, et al, and I think his wife also performed…the keyboard player was Jane Pitrelli?

So even though Christmas was over last week, last night Trans Siberian Orchestra gave us a great, albeit slightly belated gift.