Well, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We went down to Texas to spend Christmas with Chris’s family, which was lots of fun. One of the major highlights of the trip was going with them to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra!! They had never been to a show before and when we were ordering our tickets for Greenville, we asked them if they were interested in the Texas show and we decided to all go together.
The bonus of seeing TSO in Texas was that we got to see TSO West! All we’ve ever seen is TSO East, which of course we love, but we were excited to get to see the other group (especially my favorite bassist!). The show was great!! The show itself followed the same format, but there were subtle differences due to the different musicians and a few different song choices in the second half. It would be very difficult for me to say which I think is better. I wish I could just combine them both and see them all together! But a few musicians stood out to me:
– Chris Altenhoff, of course, who I maintain is awesome. Also, while I earlier said that Johnny Lee Middleton wasn’t so bad this year, after seeing Chris again, there just is no comparison. Chris is so much fun to watch because he’s got a ton of energy, he smiles from time to time (but not too much like Angus), he interacts with the audience, and he genuinely looks like he’s having a blast, and I think an important part of a live show is having good performers. He’s also got awesome hair. Anyway, sorry for the fangirliness. <swoon> (Yes, my Chris knows the extent of my fangirliness already – he calls me Chris’s groupie, lol. I’m just an enthusiastic fan.).
– Angus Clark, who for some unknown reason, left several of the guys in our little group quite enamored, lol. I dunno. He was a fine musician, and I liked his energy, but I don’t really see the appeal. He got the most girly cheers in the introduction, but I think he’s a little too smiley. Who plays guitar with a huge smile on their face the whole time!? He was kinda Ken-ish (as in Barbie and Ken). He also didn’t make it out to the meet-and-greet, but I’m trying to assume it was for a good reason, like he wasn’t feeling well or doesn’t do them because he routinely gets mobbed, and not that he’s a princess.
– Al Pitrelli. Wow, he was a really great guitarist. He was all sorts of improvising on the songs, which was quite impressive. And he can do that thing where you play notes without strumming, just by moving his fingers on the upper portion for the notes!! How do they do that?? He had a kinda funny guitar face, but whatever. His talent makes up for it. He was also pretty nice in the meet-and-greet.
– Several of the singers – Jeff Scott Soto, Bart Shatto, Tommy Farese, and Andrew Ross. All really great singers, with a variety of sounds, from smooth to rugged. I’m also pretty sure at least a few of them were the CD singers, which was cool. Chris particularly liked Bart Shatto’s “Old City Bar”. The people with large noggins in front of us were big Jeff Scott Soto fans, taking more pictures than I did. It looked like they were trying to make a movie out of stills they were taking so many.
The few people I really noticed that I missed were Alex Skolnick, Anna Phoebe (I’m sure Chris agrees, she’s his “Chris Altenhoff”, though West did have an energetic Roddy Chong and they hired a new violinist, Caitlin Moe, who was pretty good too. Perhaps not quite as energetic as Anna, but close. Some of the other guys were quite enamored with her, too, lol. I’m pretty sure at least one wanted to marry her. 🙂 ), Jeff Plate (West’s drummer is fine, but he didn’t have a solo or stand out in any way and his drum set seemed much smaller), the narrator Bryan Hicks (he had an amazing voice and was much more theatrical), Chris Caffery (simply because he’s great with the crowd, getting people to stand and everything, but I wouldn’t replace anyone on West for him), and Robert Kinkel on keyboards (maybe it’s just that I like the music to sound a lot like the CD, but the West keyboardist made the songs sound a bit more different than I like. And maybe I just have a terrible ear for music because the rest of the group absolutely loved her, but I though she sounded a little off. I dunno. I can’t play myself, but I don’t think I’m tone deaf!).
Anyway, the show was great and after they announced they were having a meet-and-greet, we all decided to stay for it (yay!). Like last time (and every time), my mind went blank coming up to the table and I made it through the line with a smile, but not a whole lot to say other than “We really enjoyed the show” and “Nice to meet you”, which makes me feel stupid. Stupid introversion. I did manage to get this though:
It’s signed just by Chris. 😀 I did manage to get up to him and ask if I could have just him sign it, though I followed it up with a lame “You’re my favorite”, like I’m five and he’s my favorite crayon in the box. No, no, Melissa. Don’t sound intelligent, telling him why you think he’s a great performer. <sigh> But he was very nice and said “Thanks, darling!” with a smile. <swoon> My Chris and I also told him that we really missed him on East.
Chris also got the program signed by everyone and we got a few guitar picks. 🙂 Though, one of them we can’t remember who we got it from and the signature looks like it says Jeff Scott Soto…who doesn’t play guitar. Why would he have a pick?
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the show – both the music and the lights. I’m always happy when something we recommend goes over well! As for next year, I know we’ll see east again for sure – we’ve both decided it doesn’t quite feel like Christmas till we see TSO, so it will become a yearly tradition – but I’d love to see west again, too. We’ll see. For now, here’s a few more shots from the concert:
(For anyone interested, the rest of the pictures are here – there are a lot of blurry shots, but a few good ones)
I’ve also got a video, but it’s taking forever to load onto YouTube, so I’ll post that tomorrow or something when it finishes.