December 12, 2000
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR
My name is Robb Kerley, aka WarriorSage. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the magical experience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland Oregon.
First it was a three and a half hour drive over the Cascade Mountain Range from the great town of Bend in Central Oregon to the big City of Portland in the Willamette Valley. We enjoyed some really fine foods in two of the local restaurants and walked into the Concert Hall lobby about an hour before the show, which was only minutes before the inside doors opened to the seating area.
A vendor who travels with the group was in the lobby selling his wares. Available were two different BLN shirts ($27 each). One was black with the album cover art on the front and the TSO logo on the back. The other was white with a black version of the Beethoven portrait found inside the BLN album. I asked the vendor if there would be a meet-n-greet after the show and when he said yes I picked the white shirt so I could get it signed. Also for sale were BLN cover art posters ($8), Christmas postcards ($?), the three TSO cds ($20 each), and interestingly a silver painted glass ornament with the TSO logo and star ($15). I couldnít resist the ornament too.
Pictures of any kind werenít allowed at the venue so I donít have any to give.
The show began promptly. I canít really remember the full set list but it followed the set lists from the other reviews. There was Johnny, of course, playing like a god on center stage. True to Savatage form there were two guitarists. There were also two keyboardists, one drummer, a narrator and the string orchestra (locals).
Funny thing, since I didnít know the two guitarists, was that my wife and I saw one of them hanging around the tour bus before the show. We thought he was a security guard. He plays really well for security guard too. The other guy, Damon La Scott rocked hard looked like heíd always been there.
The lights were amazing- lotsa reds and greens and white stars. The narrator did a wonderful job reciting poetry from the original album. I choked back a lot and then couldnít help but cry later. My wife was especially beautiful under all those lights. It really is magical.
First Snow is one of my favorite TSO songs. The band got the crowd involved clapping and everything. The soulful white dude did a great job with Good King Joy and got the crowd involved in that too. I was surprised by the appearance of Thomas Faresse who I didnít know was on TSO West. HE ROCKED! As far as the instrumentals, Sarajevo was played the most intense and the lights were different so as to really get across the darker tone of that song.
After the main opera, Faresse introduced the band but left out Johnny. Then he yelled "Are there any Savatage Fans here?" and those of us who were representing jumped and hollered. He then introduced Johnny and said they were going to play some more music from the second and third albums. Music Box was sang with different lyrics in the middle. It was really cool, I wish I could remember them. Probably the best was The Three Kings and I which turned into a playful stage song. The soulful white dude (canít remember his name or read his autograph- sorry) would sing the notes played by the guitarists and they would try to mess him up. It was great fun and everyone laughed a lot. The show encored with a second performance of Sarajevo.
The autograph signing took place about 25 minutes after the two-hour show. I got all the signatures on my shirt and my wifeís ticket. My wife also had Thomas Faresse and the Narrator sign the ornament too! I got to talk with Johnny for the first time and probably gushed like an idiot. I had on my Savatage shirt under my formal wear and had opened up my button shirt to display my pride. He saw my shirt as I walked up and said "Savatage, I know those guys." With that New York accent of his. We talked for about five minutes and I told him Iíd see them for the Poets and Madmen Tour.
Well thatís all I have to write. It was wonderful and worth every penny and I canít wait to do it again next year.