Trans-Siberian Orchestra
December 20, 2000
Concert Review


- Houston, TX
By Ed Cope


I attended the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert Wednesday, December 20th at the Aerial Theater in Houston, TX. The Aerial is a small venue in downtown Houston that probably seats around 2,500 people. It is one of my favorite concert venues ... there isn't a bad seat in the house and the acoustics are good.

I attended the show with my girlfriend, who has only recently been introduced to TSO. I, on the other hand, am a rabid fan. The crowd was as diverse as I've ever seen at a concert. At 31, I was probably on the young side, although we saw ages 10 to 80, torn jeans and leather to suits and cocktail dresses. If the show wasn't sold out, it was close as I only saw a handful of empty seats. We were on the floor in about the 10th row.

They opened the show with the instrumental "Boughs of Holly". Then the narrator, Tony Gaynor, started us through the "Christmas Eve & Other Stories" story. I think the audience seemed unsure of what they were hearing until the third song, "Good King Joy". The vocalist, Micheal Lanning, can sing the blues as good as anybody and reminded me a lot of Joe Cocker. His energy really got the crowd into it and resulted in the first standing ovation of the evening. The next song, "First Snow", started with a infectious guitar riff laid down by Damon La Scott and the crowd was clapping and moving with the music the whole song.

Sometimes at a concert you can just 'feel' when things are going good and the crowd and the band are as one. It's not as easy to sense this when you have an older crowd that isn't going to stand up and bang their heads, but that feeling was definately in the air. It peaked when they played "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24". Thomas Faresse joined the rest of the band on stage playing guitar and they delivered a materful live version of the song. Guitarist Jorge Cintron showed his talent on this song.

Many in the crowd seemed to think things were ending the first half of the show with the song "This Christmas Day". Faresse delivered an incredible vocal performance and the finale to the song drew the crowd to a standing ovation. Vocalist Gary Lindemann finished the story off with an excellent version of "An Angel Returned" and another ovation from the crowd.

The band then began to play a selection of songs from "The Christmas Attic" and "Beethoven's Last Night". Selections included "Three Kings and I", "The Grinch", "The Music Box", "Christmas in the Air", "The Last Illusion", and "Requiem". Highlights included some vocal and guitar play by Micheal Lanning, Damon La Scott and Jorge Cintron on "Three Kings and I" and vocals by Kay Story on "Music Box Blues", a song which I never liked until hearing it live.

The show lasted a little over two hours and you could tell some people were wearing out, especially during a streak of instrumentals from "Beethoven's Last Night". There seemed to be some confusion about an encore and a number of people left before the encore got started. The encore consisted of "Find Our Way Home" with vocals by Thomas Faresse and a reprise of "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24".

My biggest dissapointment was "Old City Bar", which is probably my favorite TSO song. Thomas Faresse provided vocals and Jorge Cintron was on acoustic guitar. The vocals overpowered the guitar and didn't seem to carry the same passion as they do on the album. I was also dissapointed with the Guitar Solo by Jorge at the end of "O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night". I love that solo and his rendition didn't come across with the same beauty as Al Pitrelli's studio version.

Overall, the show exceeded my high expectations. It is not often that I walk away from a concert commenting that a band's live music is better than the studio version. My girlfriend, as a non-fan, echoed the same sentiment, commenting that after hearing TSO live she has a much greater appreciation for their music. It amazes me that this group of talented musicians and vocalists can sound better in a few short months than most bands sound in a lifetime.

Oh yeah .... Johnny Lee Middleton kicked ass on bass guitar. When Thomas Faresse introduced the cast he saved Johnny for last and asked the crowd if there were any Savatage fans out there. I was suprised by the number of people who got up and screamed, myself included. Some guy up in the 2nd row wearing a "Christopher Oliva" t-shirt lead the Savatage screams.

Review # 2

- Houston, TX
By Tammy in Texas


~~ Where to begin?

What a magical night we had on December 20th in Houston Texas! My daughter(10 yrs) and I dressed for a traditional opera and headed downtown for the most incredible night ever! To start with, we had *found* TSO last Christmas 1999, this was my first Christmas as a new Christian! : ) What an incredible Cd to help show me the magic behind the season.

You can imagine my elation when i found THIS YEAR that TSO was touring AND touring the very CD that is etched in my heart! : ) "Christmas Eve And Other Stories"!

We started the evening *out* by going to Dinner at Hard Rock cafe located right next door to the Venue holding the TSO show! The place was packed and there were NO seats available for hours, My daughter and i decided to sit at the bar and order food and *cokes* from there. We were just BUSTING with excitement of the show being so close at hand. A couple sat down beside us and was giggling about how excited we were to see the show. They asked where our seats were. We had seats in the very back row of the venue. The smile they had on their faces will never leave me as they handed us FRONT ROW CENTER for this very magical occasion! Their friends could not make the show that night and these were EXTRA ! : )coincidence? I think NOT! This whole thing was running PAR with the Magic that TSO writes about!

The entire show was just too GOOD to be real! My Daughter and i know every word to every song and every note as well! She was overcome with the music and began to dance right there in the front! No one seemed to mind, and her dancing seemed to be a welcome added bonus! : ) The end of the show came and we were just so happy that we wanted to be sure to Thank the band and shake their hands. When we got to the stage to say Thanks... The Drummer gave my Daughter the Sticks from the show!!! AND she got a guitar Pic as well!!!! WOW! We stuck around to meet the band AFTER the show to tell them his whole story!

It was too perfect to ever to have planned!

The band was More than gracious and even seemed honored to have fans that were so grateful to the messages they send! They even seemed to like having this child appriciate their music so much that she couldn't contain herself! LOL~

I know i am long winded and if you made it this far then you must know the magic of "Christmas Eve" as well! : ) It's out there, I've seen it!

Thanks again to TSO for this wonderful "Happy Place" that i get when i listen to your music! : )

We have the Drumsticks as our Ornaments for the Perfect Chritsmas Tree.

~~~I've got the ornament,
I've got the perfect tree,
I've got the string of lights,
I got the chance to see...
that everything is as it SHOULD BE!

Love and Light!

:) Tammy in TexasTammy

Review # 3

- Houston, TX


I was sitting second row center and it was a awesome show. They played almost everything. I was let down that they didn't play "Music Box Blues"or "The snow Came Down" but over all it was a great show. I got everyones Autographs on a banner I made. I'm sending a Pic of the Banner for you to put on the site. Meeting Johnny was cool as hell. I told him I expected to see them next year on P&M tour. He said they would be coming to Houston. So I'm jazzed about that. I would have thought that Paul, Jon, or Chris would have been on this tour also but i guess they were on the east coast tour. They are very talented and I thought it was cool that asked some of the members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra to sit in for the concert. I imagine that was cool for them to play with TSO also. Anyway please post this and the pic and I'll catch you later.

GKY aka Webratt
TSO Photo by GKY