Sunday, December 25, 2005

Trans Siberian Orchestra at the Savvis Center, December 23, 2005

We're not talking jingle-bell rock here, I'll tell you what. We're talking dangling-balls rock wrapped up in holly and tied with a bow (ouch!). The TSO was TWO DAYS AGO and still I can not grasp hold of that freight-train of an experience.

Dangling balls. The wet dream of any big league hitter. A curve that's supposed to drop but doesn't. It sits up there like an ample bosom in a push-up bra, just waiting for some action. Catch a buxom pitch and BOOM, score. If the Trans Siberian Orchestra were a baseball player, they'd be someone like Reggie Sanders (I'll miss him in our line-up for sure), who is able to spot a dangler from the spin on the seams and then capitalize on it. The dangler in question last Friday? Christmas rock.

You can talk all you want about Mannheim Steamroller. They were the Jackie Robinson of the big touring Christmas Rock Extravaganza. But what I saw on Friday wasn’t as sissified as the Steamroller. Unlike them, who sound like the Moody Blues on Ex-Lax, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra were raised on Led Zep, Metallica, Heart and Sheryl Crow. They had fifteen people working for them full time, including, in no particular order, a hot British lady on electric violin, a handsome lead guitarist who played a Jackson Flying V, three sexy backup singers, a kick-ass drummer, a bassist who kept to the back – where bassists are supposed to be – but provided enough bottom end to tow the whole boat.

On this night, TSO were in top form. They’ve been doing this for years now, and by the time December 23 rolled around in St. Louis, they had mastered the set. Catching them at this point is akin to seeing a great baseball team in the first game of a world series: they’ve had the entire season to prepare themselves, to learn each others’ strengths and weaknesses, to devise a strategy. They were firing on all cylinders, hitting choruses like Clemens hits the outside corner of the plate. They quoted Yes’s “Roundabout,” moved from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” – OH MY GOD if you haven’t heard classical music on wailing electric guitar, you have’t heard classical music!!! – to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n Roll. They were so tight you could bounce a penny on them.

Oh Christmas! Oh Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

And we were in the FRONT ROW. We could see the twinkle in the back-up singers’ eyes. We laughed with them. We cried with them. We didn’t dance. We don’t dance. But we understood the feeling. We understood Christmas. We felt the rock. The Christmas Rock.

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