TSO: real music, fake performances?

Okay, so in this CS thread I was smacked for bringing up Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s peculiarly lackluster concerts, and while I don’t think I was threadshitting, I will concede that an RIP thread is not the place to debate musical merit. But then similar comments were made, so as requested, I’m taking this to the Pit even though it’s not really Pit material.

Like most, I like much of TSO’s album work and bought on of the ten zillion copies of “Lost Christmas” sold after the “Christmas House” video went uber-viral. I don’t think they make music for the ages, but it’s very pumped and listenable.

So my comment was that the concert I saw had absolute truckloads of expensive stagecraft and lighting and sound systems, and a whole passel of brightly dressed musicians leaping and playing and singing… and it was the most soul-less, heart-less two hours of performance I’ve ever endured. It may as well have been robots playing at Disneyland.

Someone further on in the thread noted that a TV special seemed much the same - “cheesy” was the word. And then someone mentioned what I already knew, that there isn’t really a “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” any more than there is a “Hamilton” adminstration - the concerts are by touring companies, two or more of them, with essentially nameless performers (emphasis on the word) following an elaborate choreographed script and score.

So whatever the brilliance of founder/composer Paul O’Neill, doesn’t it devalue the worth of this “group” to have it be composed of… actors? Even very good, musically talented actors? Who are mostly so nameless that most fans couldn’t name one without googling or looking at a CD insert?

Even Alan Parsons never pretended to be anything but the ultimate session arranger, and toured very selectively with the very best session musicians he could call.

So TSO: real music, I guess, and not bad… but utterly fake performances, live and on TV? What’s the point?

All of the performers in TSO are well-known and successful in their own right, whether with Savatage or their own bands. Al Pitrelli, in particular, is known as one of the best guitar players in heavy metal.

Yeah, I kept quiet about Leonard Cohen’s vocal range in his obit thread…
(and, frankly, Don Rickles wasn’t much better)

But when Dylan kicks it, the kid gloves are OFF!

I saw TSO for the first time two or three years ago. I thought the performances were good, but not outstanding. The tickets were a gift to my wife and I, and after that show, I would never pay to see them.

I did enjoy seeing LED stage lighting - hadn’t seen that before, and the Digico audio console - hadn’t seen that before either.
Main sound system was quite harsh, though. Didn’t enjoy that.

At the end of it all, I was “meh” about the show.

So does he play with the East Coast company or the West Coast one? Full tour or only part of it?

I never said any of the performers weren’t talented to a degree - just faceless and nameless and as replaceable as member of Menudo. Which takes something out of the live performance experience - it’s not just THE BASSIST, it’s A bassist. A good one. Whose name is probably listed in the program somewhere, unless he’s been replaced by a stand-in for tonight’s show.

Not exactly the same as seeing Keith, Mick, Ronnie and Charlie up there, even if they’re having an off night.

i similarly find overproduced and over the top performances such as the Celtic Women, and Yanni, and the like, to have the same soulless feel. maybe its that theyre rehearsed to “perfection” and are trying to induce a specific emotional response in the audience, rather than taking them on a ride and letting the audience reach their own catharsis.

we appear to be in the minority, however, as these types of shows are insanely popular and profitable. go figure!


If you’re not familiar with the prog-metal scene, then I don’t blame you for not recognizing names like Russell Allen, Jeff Scott Soto, Zak Stevens or Chris Caffery. However, you seem to be contending that TSO merely picks random people from the local talent agency on a night-by-night basis, which is absolutely NOT true. All of the musicians, including the umpteen vocalists, have been part of Trans-Siberian Orchestra since the beginning, both recording and performing, with just a few nominal, routine replacements over the years.

The West Coast bassist is Johnny Lee Middleton, who’s been with Savatage since 1986. The other bassist is some guy named David Zablidowsky who’s too obscure to have a Wiki page – apparently he’s part of Jeff Scott Soto’s solo band, and has done session work for many artists as well as touring with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 2002. He’s been part of East Coast TSO since 2010. Al Pitrelli plays for West Coast TSO, not sure why that matters.

I’ve never seen TSO live so I can’t comment on how energetic their performances are, or whether or not they’re just mailing it in for the paycheck. For all I know, you could be right about that.

“West coast bassist.” “East coast bassist.” Are you being deliberately dense, here?

*Real bands don’t have geographically rotating members, even if they’re all hall-of-famers.

Show bands that put on staged “performances” do.

Dafuq??? :confused:

TSO only tours 1-2 months per year, due to their Christmas-themed music. They form two separate touring bands to maximize exposure and revenue. Capitalism isn’t inherently bad.

Do you expect “King Lear” to be performed by only one set of actors in only one city on any given day of the year??

I love Here Come The Mummies.

Just sayin.

The TSO is not different bands who happen to play the same piece. They are claiming to be an orchestra. At least with an off-Broadway play, they let you know you aren’t seeing the real people. I’m fine watching my local theater version when I know that’s what they are.

But going to see a particular band and finding out they aren’t who I heard on the CD, and aren’t as good because of it? That’s very disappointing.

Almost as disappointing as my first outdoor concert when I found out you couldn’t actually make out the lyrics over all the noise.

So you’re admitting that TSO’s music can be performed by any adequately capable session band as long as they follow the script and choreography? Cuz that’s all I’m saying, and that going to see even the best cover or tribute band lacks a little something from original, non-clone players.

I have my doubts about the choreography being identical. Anna Phoebe, who was the lead violinist of the East Coast TSO does moves on stage that I suspect few violinists can pull off. She does sprinting while playing and power slides. She’s almost a precursor to Lindsey Sterling but with more Hair Metal and less ballerina.

What is that supposed to mean?? There’s like 20-30 people in the “band”, not even counting the strings and backup singers. They are not Green Day. And the same people who record the albums are the people on tour; it’s more accurate to say they split in twain 'round Christmastime, they don’t hire clone players.

Do some fuckin’ research, man. :mad:

Here is a list of touring performers, and here is the line-up for two entirely different touring companies, East and West.
When I listen to an album, a I listening to the West touring group, the East touring group, both of them at the same time, some from column A and some from column B, or something else entirely?

Grow some musical discretion, dude.

One clue its a split squad is their website lists like 6-7 singers.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I don’t see why anyone would be upset that there are two touring groups.

I remember years ago when Paul and Ringo toured with session musicians that contributed to their recordings and John and George did the same. Everybody was happy that they got to see the Beatles.

Unless Paul and Ringo did one tour and at the same time John and George did another tour, and both groups called themselves the Beatles, then your analogy is worthless to to this situation.

It’s only worthless if you don’t realize that it’s a fabrication made to prove a point.