Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concert, December 21st, 2018, 8 pm show, Houston [Concert Review]

I think this is the 6th or 7th year that Justin and I bought tickets to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. The show was about five days ago, I apologize for not getting this up sooner, but basically… we had the concert on Friday, and we left for our Utah National Park road-trip [yes despite the Government Shutdown, you can’t cancel reservations you’ve had for over a year], in fact, I’m writing this from nearby Zion National Park, so expect some National Park like updates in the not-so-distant future…

Anyways, onwards to the concert, as I was saying, it was either our 6th or 7th year seeing TSO in concert. TSO used to be a band named Savatage. Justin and I both love Savatage, and they have some awesome albums. Savatage are sort of prog-rock band, a lot like TSO, epic guitar solos, long ballads, songs with deeper meaning, and they have a lot of great music. But their style wasn’t for everyone, and they had an accidental hit with “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24” when it made the mainstream radio… Trust me, you know it, everyone knows that song, and then they realized they could make a lot more money being a Christmas rock-band, so they ditched the Savatage title, and became Trans-Siberian Orchestra, though recently they’ve added some more Savatage era songs into their TSO playlists. TSO is so huge and popular, that the original members of Savatage, for the most part, divide themselves in half, and they tour the US as TSO East and TSO West. TSO West is the one that comes to Houston.

I’ll go through the play-list, and add videos/pics as they come up… Unfortunately, my usual point and shoot wide-angle digital camera that I take to concert wasn’t turning on even though I swear I charged it. It might be time to start looking at a new camera… That one was sort of old anyways. But anyways, all pics and videos are from my cell phone and I apologize in advance for their quality, I feel like they’re not up to my usual concert photography standards.

Anyhow, I got our tickets way back in September during the pre-sale. We had really good seats, we were in the first or second upper lower section [as in the one above the floor] and in row 6. We also had aisle seats, which is always nice.

We saw TSO West as always like I mentioned. [Though one year I want to see TSO East, just to compare the two]. The drummer is awesome, he has so many tricks and so much energy. The band was as energetic as ever this year [not that they’re not energetic ever] and had a lot of really good chemistry. I also always love seeing Johnny Lee Middleton, the original bassist from Savatage, he’s my favorite [though I still love Kili and Fili, what I’ve nicknamed the two guitarists], and I feel like bassists just don’t get enough love from the fans, when they deserve so much more because they’re the ones who keep the band together and on tune, IMO. 

The set list was as follows:

Act One:

Night Enchanted

Winter Palace

The Lost Christmas Eve

O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night

Good King Joy

Christmas Dreams

Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24

Christmas Canon Rock

What Child Is This?

Music Box Blues

First Snow

Promises to Keep

This Christmas Day

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Onto my Thoughts [because I know that’s what you want to hear]

Night Enchanted, and this goes immediately into Winter Palace These were both really awesome opening tracks. I mean the band always has cool intros, but these were especially cool. It was all music, no vocals, awesome lasers, and the band literally came onto the stage on things that I can only describe as gigantic swings that came down from the ceiling:

The Lost Christmas Eve  is one of my favorite songs. It’s also one of my favorite TSO albums. This is probably the song that actually got me into TSO.

[This is my video from last year]

O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night I’ll be the first to tell you that TSO’s more “Christmas” like songs aren’t really my thing. I have nothing against them, and I like Christmas music, I guess I just prefer TSO”s more “rock” songs than their takes on Christmas Carols. 

Good King Joy Great vocals, the guy and girl, who do the vocals have amazing voices, but this song is a little too religious for my atheist tastes. 

[my video from last year’s show]

 

Christmas Dreams is one of the better songs they perform during Act One, but I still don’t really have a strong opinion on this one. 

Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24- first time- This song is an original Savatage song from the album “Dead Winter Dead”. The song on the album is about the gruesomeness of war. The band shows all these images of war, and I don’t think any of the people, in the audience, except for the 20 or so who love Savatage, actually understand the imagery that’s shown. But it is their most popular song, and due to that, I think they put some of the most energy into it. I’m pretty sure 98% of the people come to see TSO just to see this song performed, and while it is an amazing song, I think a lot of their Savatage stuff is better.

[also a video from last year. I went Facebook live during this this year because I have some co-workers and friends, who are literally obsessed with this song, and I wanted to share the concert love]

Christmas Canon Rock is a song that’s grown on me. It’s very Christmas-like. It’s sort of a good mixture of rock and Christmas, and as always the female vocalists for TSO West are very talented. I’m also always amazed with how coordinated the singers are.. They can sing and dance in perfect time with the music and in perfect synchronicity, I could never do that, I am too uncoordinated [trust me on that, I slipped on ice and wiped out in Zion today in front of tons of people even while wearing ice-spikes]

[also my video from last year]

What Child is This is like the rock version of Greensleeves and I can totally dig it. I’ve learned this year that TSO’s version of this is actually a cover of the original version of this song, I did not know that before. Listening to the original and the TSO version, I prefer to TSO version.

[this is from this year’s show, taken with my cell phone]

Music Box Blues is not one of my favorite songs. Chloe Lowery has an absolutely beautiful and gorgeous voice and she sounds amazing on this song. I just really don’t like the slower songs, which tend to be the female-vocal led songs. This song is not my cup of tea, but it’s nothing against Chloe Lowery or any of the lead singers or even TSO themselves, it’s just not my speed.

First Snow is always a fun song. It’s an entirely music song, and the band just always looks like they have an amazing time playing it. It also always has awesome lights and effects. The band really gets to rock out on this song, and that’s what they love and it always shows in this and Wizards in Winter.

I apologize for the quality of this video, I took them on my cellphone and unlike a regular digital camera, phones don’t rotate videos.  I’ll try to edit the video when I get back to Texas and have my real computer instead of my laptop. 

Promises to Keep is another one of those slow, beautiful songs sung by Chloe Lowery, and she sounds amazing, but again songs like this aren’t really my thing. 

This Christmas Day The finale of act one. It’s a good mixture of vocals [the singer who does it is amazing], as well as mixed types of music… It starts really slow, but then gets more rock as you get towards the end of the song. I think it’s a really good song and the perfect song to end Act One with. 

[another video from last year]

Act Two:

Wish Liszt [Toy Shop Madness]

A Mad Russian’s Christmas

Christmas Nights in Blue

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Three Kings & I

Wizards in Winter

Tracers

Carmina Burana

Someday

Chance [a savatage cover!]

Madness of Men

Find Our Way Home

Requiem the Fifth

Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 [second time]

My Thoughts:
 
Wish Liszt [Toy Shop Madness] A lot of this is dueling pianos between the two pianists that tour with TSO, and that’s really cool, and as with all songs, it has pretty awesome images and lights. This song is all instrumental.
 
A Mad Russian’s Christmas is basically a heavy-metal nutcracker, and I love everything nutcracker [I even saw the awful Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie because my obsession is that deep] so this was awesome, also entirely instrumental. It also showcased every single member of TSO and they all sort of had their own solo part, which was pretty awesome.
 
 

[my video from last year]

Christmas Nights in Blue always sounds awesome, we have a really talented vocalist named Mats Levin, and he just rocks that jazz voice, and this is a really jazzy rock song, and he always sounds amazing on it. He has greats stage presence and so much charisma. 

[last years video, same amazing guy on vocals]

 
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Three Kings & I is way to slow and Christmas like for me without rock. I’m not a fan of this one, that doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just not my thing. It wasn’t heavy enough. 
 
Wizards in Winter is always amazing. It’s a lot like First Snow, just the entire band going all out with awesome lights and awesome pyrotechnics. This song is so popular that a lot of people use it for their timed Christmas light shows. It’s one of my favorite songs to see live because the band goes all out in it. 
 

[my video from this year]

Tracers was awesome. Lots of cool lights, and the band flew around on these things I can only describe as flying saucers. It was also all instrumental. The violinist was basically flying over our heads. 

Carmina Burana, I’m meh about this one. I really liked it the first time or two that I heard it, but now I’m sort of bored by it. The band/vocalists always do an absolutely amazing job when they perform this one, I guess I’m just over it?

[This is my video from 2016]

Someday isn’t my sort of song, I find it slow and boring, but I can appreciate it. Al Pitrelli always dedicates this song to the late Paul O’Neil, who passed away in Spring 2017, and the entire audience takes out their cell phones and shine them in honor of him [since cell phones are apparently the new lighter…]

Chance was the song I was most looking forward to. It’s a Savatage cover, thought honestly, it really sounds like it could come from a TSO album, it has the same epic guitar, vocals, and deep and meaningful lyrics that a lot of their other songs have. I thought Chance was amazing live. And it was completely awesome to actually hear as Savatage song being performed as TSO. I hope this means that TSO will perform other Savatage songs in the neat future, especially because I feel like a lot of Savatage songs would be perfect TSO songs and no one would know the difference. 

[again, sorry for the bad quality cell video, I’ll work hard to rotate it when I get home]

Madness of Men is very similar to The Mountain. It’s heavy, a lot of awesome guitar, pyrotechnics, and awesome lights. There’s also a dragon. [True story: Justin knows somebody who went to see a TSO concert, a few years back, and they really enjoyed act one, but then act two came on, and it had crazy dragons and pyro and satanic imagery, and they were like what the hell is this heavy shit, she didn’t see how it related to Christmas and they literally walked out of the concert… and I saw a lot of other people leave the show this year. But this heavy stuff is literally what Justin and I go for!]

Find Our Way Home another slower song with awesome vocals, but it’s really not my thing. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just not my thing. 

Requiem the Fifth is always a good one. It’s classical music that got turned into heavy metal, and TSO always sound good on it, I just wish they’d tour with the album is originated from: Beethoven’s Last Night because that album is awesome, though I suppose it’s not very Christmas-like. 

Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 [second time]  I realize that this is the song that TSO are basically known for and it’s the song that put them on the map, but do they really need to play is twice? I wish they’d just keep it as the finale, or they could leave it in act one and choose another song for the finale. I guess I just feel like it’s overplayed. They have so many other songs to choose from, especially if they dig into their Savatage archives [think… Back to a Reason or Not What You See, they’d both be amazing finales]. But that’s just my personal opinion. Regardless of my opinion, they did an awesome job and it was still a great finale.

I can’t wait for next year. The band was amazing as always, even though I’m not a fan of every single song, but honestly, TSO put on such a great show, and if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend seeing them. You won’t regret it, they are truly one of the greatest live rock bands I have ever seen and they put 200% into every single concert. 

 

 

 
 

 

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