Trans Siberian Orchestra

Do we have any TSO fans here? If so, could you tell me if there is much shredding in a typical TSO concert? I know TSO was formed by basically turning Savatage into TSO and the man behind that, Paul O’Neill wanted to turn Savatage into a big money making machine, which he did. The downside, and there’s always a downside when you make artistic decisions based upon what what type of music can you play to make the most money possible. O’Neill achieved his goal and TSO became one of the ten highest grossing touring acts over something like a ten year period.

There was a price to be paid for turning Savatage into a money making machine named The Trans Siberian Orchestra as you would imagine there would be. Savatage started out as and that absolutely loved heavy metal and they embodied many of the traits that the best metal bands have – the heavy guitar riffs, the rebellious spirit, the aggressive, intense guitar solos. etc.

Part of the price they paid was they’ve lost the heaviness that they once had with classic riffs such as the riffs from Sirens, Holocaust, City Beneath The Surface, Hall Of the Mountain King, Hounds, Grace Of The Witch, The Dungeons Are Calling, Jesus Saves, Taunting Cobras, etc. They’ve gone from that to playing Christmas music. I’m familiar with Sarajevo 12/24 (their cover of Carol Of The Bells) and yes, there is some fast guitar playing, but none of the fast guitar playing with the aggressive feel and intensity Criss Oliva was famous for. Do TSO concerts have many places where the guitarists still get to play aggressive sounding, intense, shredding leads, or are they relegated to playing the type of shredding you hear in Sarajevo 12/24 which is fast but lacks the intensity and aggressiveness that was Savatage’s hallmark?

Eh, TSO is fun - I’ve seen them a couple times, the feel-good christmas stories are a little cheesy but they put on a HELL of a show (I always enjoy watching all the grandparents walking out looking a little dazed who were clearly expecting more of an orchestra and less pyrotechnics, and yes, this makes me a bad person), and are really good about getting local youth instrumentalists up on stage with them as part of the actual orchestra, donating a portion of ticket sales to local charities, etc. They’re not a band I go out of my way to follow, exactly, but a buddy was a big Savatage fan and always grabs tickets when they come to town, and the years he’s offered me a ticket I’ve always gone if I was in town. It’s a fun show.

Besides, it’s one of the few ways you can still see Alex Skolnick playing anything other than jazz these days. Though, I think the last time I saw them, one of the violinists impressed me more than any of the guitarists did - she was playing up a storm.

1 Like

Cool! Did Skolnick get to do an unaccompanied guitar solo or were all his solos just the solos that were within songs? Dio was probably my favorite heavy metal front man and one of the many, MANY, reasons why this is so is because he always gave his band members the opportunity to shine with an unaccompanied guitar solo and a drum solo as well. There was no bass solo but Jimmy Bain doesn’t seem like the type of bassist who would want one. I vividly remember the solos I saw by Vivian Cambell (Last In Lime tour) and Craig Goldie (Sacred Heart tour).

In Savatage Criss Oliva did an unaccompanied solo as well. Their whole show was just so good! Did you ever see Savatage live with Criss Oliva? He was one talented man. What a loss that he died so young, especially because he died because a drunk driver ran into his car, killing Criss instantly and giving his wife Dawn permanent injuries she eventually died from years later. It’s a very sad story.

I honestly don’t remember - it’s been a few years since I’ve seen them, and I’ve never been a huge fan of unaccompanied solos, to be honest.

I’ve never seen Savatage live, was never a huge fan, personally. Not that they’re not a good band deserving all the respect they get, they’re just not really my sort of thing.

I did some shows a couple years ago with Jeff Plate (TSO east/Savatage "Part 2” drummer) and he said that the whole TSO show is scripted beginning to end. There’s a lot of moving parts–tons of people, video, pyro etc. so the whole thing runs like a machine every show.

Guys like Skolnick and Joel Hoekstra are great players but it’s all within the show format. Not much leeway for anyone.

It’s really strange at a TSO show–the arena is full, but everyone just sits and watches. You’ve got small kids there and people in their 80s. Definitely not like a 1980s Savatage gig lol. But it’s cool in its own way and they deserve all the success they’ve had with it. Great concept and done really well. That said it’s not really my thing but it’s still worth going to see. It’s huge.

1 Like

I’m strongly considering going to see them in concert this year. I think it would be fun! :slight_smile:

Alex Skolnick left the TSO production after the 2009 tour. Joel Hoekstra (and for one tour, Bill Hudson) replaced his role. For those interested, I interviewed Alex at the end of 2017 to discuss his time with Savatage and TSO:

I know someone who auditioned for the Trans Siberian Orchestra 1-2 years ago and I was amazed by his stories about the professionalism, musicianship and overall experience.

I hope I see them live one day.

My friend Kayla Reeves-Lopez has been performing with TSO singing and playing guitar for many years now, but she performs with the Northeast branch of the tour and she doesn’t come to Houston where I live so I haven’t seen it in the flesh yet. But I agree with everyone…PROFESSIONAL and executed with extreme skill and precision. The music is generally not my cup of tea, but I would recommend seeing the show to anyone. It’s just state of the art hugeness and the entire cast and production are second to none in this area of show biz!