Oh, what a night! My brother Charlie treated us to an evening of Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, and my pulse is still racing today! The group is touring with their current rock opera, “Beethoven’s Last Night,” and it ended up being an evening that I, like ol’ Ludwig, hated to see come to an end.
First, let me tell you a little about TSO. They are an extremely talented group of musicians that combine classical music with heart pounding rock and roll energy. They have taken what I enjoy most about rock music; crisp, clean power chords, and combined it with dramatic onstage performing. When you add in 30 foot pillars of flame and a laser light show second to none, the resulting hybrid is a unique blend of entertainment that appeals to a wide variety of people.
Now, let me tell you about “Beethoven’s Last Night.” Ludwig Van Beethoven is approached by the devil at the end of his life and offered a deal by the prince of darkness. It seems that Beethoven’s music has been a source of light for the people of the world and will continue to give people hope for generations to come, and this troubles Satan greatly. He offers to release the composer’s soul from eternal damnation if Ludwig will but allow the devil to erase all of his music from the face of the earth. The story accounts the internal struggle that Beethoven undergoes as he contemplates this final decision.
Every power chord and lyric was performed under the watchful eye of founder/producer Paul O Neill, and he had the Trans Siberian Orchestra firing on all cylinders: This show had been rehearsed to absolute perfection! Bryan Hicks, the narrator, hypnotized the audience with his story telling ability and James Earl Jones – like voice. Chloe Lowery brought a lump to my throat as she musically related the story of Theresa, a young woman Ludwig had once loved. Ronny Munroe sent shivers up my spine with his blood curdling portrayal of Mephistopheles, the devil.
When “Beethoven’s Last Night” was completed, the group remained on stage and performed for another 30 minutes, showcasing several cast members as featured performers during the various numbers. Ronny Munroe demonstrated a maniacal onstage charisma that would rival Black Sabbath legends Ozzie Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio. Keyboard player Vitalij Kuprij wowed the crowd with a short classical ditty that would have made Beethoven proud. It was Kayla Reeves, however, who was the star of the finale in my opinion. The long haired siren glided to center stage with the smoothness of a spirit, then poured her soul into a song entitled “Someday” which featured her tugging her own hair in frustration while sobbing the words “I’m trying!”
Oh what a night: Thanks Charlie! I’m already looking forward to the group coming back to Grand Forks this winter for their annual Christmas tour! I can’t wait to discover what little goodies they will have in store for the audience the next time around!