Sunday, December 02, 2007

Magic at Seattle Center: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Comes to Snowy Seattle

I've wanted to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert for years, and they always play right around my birthday, so you'd think my hint-dropping would have yielded some results in years past.

But nooooo.

So this year I took matters into my own hands. I sat down at the computer and pretty much announced to my loving and generous family that, even as we spoke, they were gifting me a night with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and thanks oh, so much!

With snow blanketing the Puget Sound yesterday, I was concerned that we wouldn't make it into Seattle, but thanks to Elisabeth leaving her AWD car at our house while she and Kat went to (sunny and warm) San Diego for the weekend, we got into town just fine. We decided to have dinner at a restaurant called Thai Heaven, which is right across from the Seattle Center parking lot. I give it negative two stars. Maybe even negative three. Judging from the lack of any spice at all in their dishes, though, they have no understanding of anything "star" related, from quality to spiciness. It was almost comedic how bad that place was -- from the loud and pushy staff to the absolutely horrendously bad food. The "orange chicken" tasted like microwaved rubbery chicken in ketchup and the Kung Pe Mao (?) noodles were slimy, stuck together and tasted like... well, like nothing at all. ("Phlegm-nominal" sounds aptly descriptive...) Steer clear of that restaurant at all costs, folks! Instead, go to the Vietnamese restaurant two doors down, on the corner. Been there often; loved it each time.

But I digress. This posting is about the Trans-Siberian Orchestra experience, not the restaurant experience before that. Since we had time to kill, Tom and I went into Seattle Center to warm up (it was still snowing and very cold), but silly me, I headed right back out again to take some photos of the Space Needle. Couldn't resist! My fingers froze solid, but I'm glad I at least tried to get a good shot with the tiny camera I intended to smuggle into the concert.

I was able to smuggle the camera inside, but the woman monitoring our section was so incredibly nice in her request that we not take photos with a camera or a cell phone, that I really had to heed her request and I only got two shots -- one from my cell before the concert even started (we loved our almost nose-bleed seats -- perfect for a concert like this!) and one after the concert, as the crew broke down the enormous stage (anyone else hearing Jackson Brown?).

The concert. Oh. My. Gawd. The concert!

The first half was wonderful, filled with familiar TSO Christmas music. (Yes, I was thinking how un-PC it was to make everything about Christmas, but I got over it.) I marveled at the lightshow and the special effects and truly enjoyed myself. I expected nothing less and probably would have been perfectly satisfied if that music comprised the entire show. I would have loved it if the band had encouraged some sort of audience sing-along, since they played quite a few traditional carols, but maybe that would have been cheesy. Cheesy, but fun. (Maybe next year, guys? You should hear Seattle sing; we're actually quite good!)

Then came the second half of the concert. Not sure I can describe it in words. Phenomenal. Incredible. Perhaps even life-altering. (Keep in mind that I'm often accused of exaggerating and being overly-dramatic.) I wanted to close my eyes to soak in the amazing neo-classical (classical-rock? rock-classical?) music I was hearing, but couldn't because the visuals were so incredible. It was an absolutely multi-sensory, mind-blowing experience. (Hey, I'm a child of Berkeley in the 60's; I'm allowed to say that.) Even my staid and traditionalist father who likes his classical music pure and unadulterated would have loved this. If you know of Wendy Carlos' Switched-On Bach, imagine that music and that genius (Bach's and Carlos') with today's technical advances and with the genius of TSO! If you want to hear a bit for yourselves, go here, scroll down to "Beethoven's Last Night," and click on "Requiem - The Fifth."

I know this sounds weird, but I had to take off my glasses to more fully experience the music; it just felt like I wanted nothing between my senses and the music! I struggled between trying to stay completely in the moment and not worry that "this will end soon," and wanting to alter time so I simply never had to leave this experience. (No, I wasn't on drugs.)

Bravo! Bravo! Encore! And oh, did we ever get an encore, one consisting of a showcasing of the two keyboarders' absolutely extraordinary talent, a sort of "dueling keyboards" that absolutely blew me away, especially as it launched into another full TSO experience.

Another encore, please?! But they didn't hear me and the lights came on and we had no choice but to leave, which I really didn't want to do.

After the concert we hung out for a while, waiting for the crowds around the merchandise counter to die down so I could buy a CD containing all the neo-classical music from the second half of the concert. After about a half-hour in line, I asked for just that CD, and was steered toward the "Beethoven's Last Night" CD which, of course, I bought. We listened to it in the car on the way home and that brought my first disappointment of the evening (well, the second if you count our experience at the restaurant): the album is more of a rock opera of Beethoven's last night of life (who'd'a thunk it from the title? my bad, obviously!) instead of the pure classical pieces I'd loved so much in the concert. Of course, I left a message on TSO's website begging them to please release an album of just their renditions of classical masterpieces. When they do, I'll buy ten. Maybe twenty!

We got home well after midnight, which is when Tom began tiling the entry way (yes, that post and photos are coming), and I didn't get to bed until well after 3 AM because of course I had to check out every website pertaining to TSO and each of the musicians. Love their blogs and journals! (And if any of you guys in TSO read fans' blogs about your concerts, please DO leave me a comment; you'd make my week because, you know, I am such a groupie!)

If you have a chance to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert, by all means, GO! Even if you have to travel for hours -- in snow, sleet, rain or dead of night. In spite of $50 tickets. Even (maybe even especially) if you find "only" nosebleed seats.

Just GO. And let me know what you think!

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Blog Antagonist said...

OMG...I am absolutely GREEN with envy. I have been trying to think of something to do with the boys...They're not really into stuff like the Nutcracker, but they both love music. Maybe that's my solution! Alright, I'm off to check ticketmaster to see if they're going to be anywhere close to here before Christmas.

Goofball said...

am I an alien if I never heard of TSO before???

Sounds like you had a wonderful night though! UP to next year?

J said...

Glad you were able to get to the concert. It's the type of event I'd definitely enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous. I've been wanting to see them since I took my son and his girlfriend (Xmas present to her)when he was 15. He turns 23 this month. If you don't have their DVD I highly recommend you buy it. You will be able to watch them whereever you please. It's a must have. I'm making a pack to go for sure next year.

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