By MIKE CHAIKEN
Trans-Siberian Orchestra has a reputation for putting on a show.
And that’s a show with a capital “S.”
With its lights, videos, and pyrotechnics, TSO—which makes its rounds every winter holiday season with its metallic chestnut “Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo 12/24”— is as much a visual experience as it is a musical experience.
But who do members of these masters of holiday themed production values admire as fans?
In an Oct. 3 press teleconference, long-time TSO members guitarist Al Pitrelli and drummer Jeff Plate took a beat or two before chiming in on their favorite shows as fans.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at the Mohegan Sun Arena for two shows on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 3 and 8 p.m.
“Boy, it’s tough,” Plate told the Observer. “When you’re part of a tour like this and a production like this, you know, it’s a real badge of honor to be a part of something like this. And hey, let’s face it, I mean (the band on the road are) all competing with each other, right? (W)e’re all trying to sell tickets and we’re all trying to survive out there in this world.”
“But man,” said Plate, “it’s really difficult, firstly to go to a show without really looking at the lights and listening to the sound and seeing everybody’s performance, because I know how much work we put into what we do.”
“I just saw Ozzy Osbourne, and I thought the production was great,” said Plate. “I was completely blown away.”
Additionally, Plate said, “bands like Styx, Whitesnake, Foreigner, you know, you go down the list of the classic rock bands …these guys still sound fantastic. They look good, they sing well, they play well, and that in itself is pretty inspiring…. “
There are so many good shows out there now,” said Plate.
However, the drummer said one band he’s seen that has been blowing his mind are his counterparts on the west coast.
There are two different productions of Trans-Siberian Orchestra on tour. One takes the western part of the nation and the other takes the east. Plate and Pitrelli tour the right said of the U.S.A.
“Watching TSO West…,” said Plate, “to me that just really gets me going (and inspired) because it’s easy to look at that band and go, ‘Wow, that’s what I’m actually doing up there, too…”
For Pitrelli, the musical pyrotechnics of other bands impress him more than the lights and explosions. “When I go to a show I want to go see somebody that meant something to me growing up,” said Pitrelli.
“I went to see Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers this summer, and it was electrifying,” Pitrelli said. “I mean, Jeff Beck, still to this day, can stop time as soon as he plays his guitar. And as a guitar player, you know, I’m really focused on that musically.”
Pitrelli said, “I wasn’t watching the lights, I wasn’t watching anything else, I was staring at this man (Beck), saying it would take me the rest of my life just to be a tenth as good he is.”
“And to hear Paul Rodgers sing… the man stops time,” said Pitrelli.
“These two men (Rodgers and Beck) were like, basically the soundtrack of my childhood,” said Pitrelli.
“There are people out there who are just still crushing it, and it’s so good to see that in their 60’s and 70’s… go out there and be better than they were 40 years ago,” said Pitrelli.
“I hope to try to be half as good as them one day,” said Pitrelli.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 3 and 8 p.m. For tickets, go to MoheganSun.com. For more information ,go to trans-siberian.com