TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA
Show Date: November 3, 2006
Location: Lakeland, Florida, U.S.A.
Venue: The Lakeland Center
Ever have that odd feeling of deja vu? This past Friday night I was having it big time. We were heading to The Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida to see TSO, or Trans Siberian Orchestra, almost a year to the day from the last time we saw them, in this same venue, about six seats from the same section we inhabited a year before. If the music and show progressed in a similar fashion, it would be a hell of a night.
As it turned out, hellish is about how it started. Apparently TSO wasn’t privy to the deja vu bit and changed their stage size from the previous year, effectively wiping out about 20 seats on both sides of the stage, including the ones we had paid good money to occupy. Here comes Johnny Do Good with his headset, four cell phones, a beeper, walkie talking and what looked like a device to make smoke signals. After 10 or 15 minutes of a growing group of irritated concert-goers giving this young usher all forms of grief, seats were finally found about six to eight feet from where the original seating was to be and after a firm, yet polite, refusal of “great seats just to the rear of the stage.”
Seats had, food consumed, people watched – it was time for the show! This is where the timewarp started…
Preceding the actual start of the concert, a local DJ and Al Pitrelli took the stage to announce that from the sales of tickets, money was being donated to a local charity. That’s cool, we agreed, a good way to start the holiday season and consistent with what they did last year. A brief moment later and the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered in anticipation and the rerun began.
Since last year’s show, TSO has been promising a new release which has yet to hit the shelves. Without the new material in their catalog, it was a rehash of a show now 363 days gone by. The stage was larger, yet designed in the same manner, the lighting rigs looked eerily familiar, and the supporting cast of musicians was the same with the exception of a couple of performers. The only difference was the location of the pyro, which instead of being off to the stage last year was now incorporated across the back, behind the drum riser, stretching from end to end.
Back again were last year’s highlights of Angus Clark and Al Pitrelli on guitars, John Lee Middleton of Savatage fame on bass, and strings master Anna Phoebe, a whirling, headbanging mistress of the violin if ever I’ve seen one. Hell, maybe it was a fiddle, there was no way to tell as the only time all night it was held even slightly still was when it was put into its case at the end of the show. The music was incredible, the performance was outstanding, but yet, well, it was just too familiar. As good as something is when you see it the second time it is nothing more than a rerun, a pale comparison of itself the second time around.
If you’ve never been fortunate enough to see TSO in action then please, do not hesitate to purchase tickets and go see this phenomenal performance for yourself. If you’re on the west coast of the US, who knows? Perhaps your show will be different. If you’re on the east coast, however, there’s a good chance that if you went last year it won’t be any different this year. We’re moving out to Oregon the beginning of December. Who knows, maybe we’ll be lucky and be able to catch the west coast performance in Portland. If so, I’ll be sure to let you know how it compares.
If this reads a little less than enthusiastically, then I sincerely apologize because everything about the performance was top notch – from the talent, the set list, the lights and laser show, the pyro, and Angus and Anna‘s racing through the crowd while playing to be raised almost to the ceiling in the back of the auditorium. It’s just that the thrill was gone from this repeat performance. Here’s to next year and hoping the new material is released!