Saturday, April 24, 2010
State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN
Despite plans to arrive at downtown Minneapolis’ grand State Theatre early, car troubles ensued and made me a few minutes late to my great annoyance. All anger faded away as I was escorted to my front row pit orchestra seat which had me seated directly in front of guitarist Chris Caffery and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton. Information about who was playing in the Beethoven’s Last Night touring company was scant, so it was awesome to see four members of Savatage onstage. In addition to Chris Caffery and Johnny Lee Middleton, guitarist Al Pitrelli was also musical director for the evening, and Jeff Plate sat back behind the drum kit. Nearly all of the two and a half show was devoted to turning the Beethoven’s Last Night album into a full-blown musical show. TSO followed their usual Christmas show format, playing the album with addition of their interpretation of classical music standards and an on-stage narrator who walked the audience through the story of Beethoven’s deafness, pleadings with the devil, and a mysterious musical manuscript. The stage production was over the top for a theater performance (impressive lighting, massive arched windows with light screens) but scaled back from their arena shows (no pyro, fewer props). Musically things were stripped down a bit, too, as two touring violinists were only accompanied by six local string musicians and there were fewer singers. Nevertheless, TSO puts on a stage spectacle like no other band, and the entire performance was nothing short of impressive. I let out a cheer when none other than vocalist extraordinaire Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Journey, others) strutted out on stage in his role as the devil to sing three or four throughout the evening. Following Beethoven’s Last Night the band rolled through their versions of Savatage classics “Prelude To Madness” and “Believe”. Although tonight’s show was the entire last lineup of Savatage with different singers and additional musicians, most of the audience of families, theater-types, and grandmothers would never know. A few in the know metalheads were present, so the concert was a special treat for Savatage fans that can live with the commercialization of the Savatage legacy. Aside from some of the between-song narrations being far too long, it was a treat seeing TSO in a theater setting and hopefully more non-Christmas tour outings are in the works.
Click picture for more photos of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (16).