Evening tale about the last night of the first heavy metal musician: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 18.03.2011., Wien, Stadthalle

írta Tomka | 2011.04.05.

It's over. Chat-snatches in Italian, Hungarian, German and English; tired eyes, nervous looks, smiling eyes, sparkling sights; handful people, huge hall, dedication. This is professional for ones, kindness for the others and a unique -especial, not recurring experience similar to a performance for everybody else. A long-haired, discursive and smart man being hidden by his sunglasses is sitting on a lonely bench not so far from the long dedicating table. Next to him his assistant in a suit is giving him records, photos and T-shirts. The man with sunglasses is showing his family photos and distributing relics, which were sold for expensive Euros at the Merch-counter recently. He's got kind comments to everyone - he says I should start playing music and puts half a dozen of picks into my hand. He is a real story-teller: tonight he's telling a universal story packed in the musical notes about "the first heavy metal musician", Beethoven. We are eager to listen to him with sensible eyes not only to the tale, but for the music... 06.03.1827 Wien - The last night of Beethoven - as Trans-Siberian Orchestra sees, hears and feels it. Somehow this way: a lightening look from the genius composer fighting with his demons, after coming to know by the Fate that his time is over in the Earth. He dates with Mephistopheles, who tells his sins, thundering that " I hold your souls in my hands" and giving the possibility for the following choice: he can save his soul from the damnation by giving all his compositions to him, so they can never make happy or comfort the mankind anymore. Beethoven's soul contra the comfort of the mankind - this possible choice makes the composer angry by Fate, who is there with his sibling, Twist in the corner of the room. They are the emanations and shadows of Beethoven's mind. They are ready to go through Beethoven's life and change that part, which he wants. He recognizes - during passing through his lifetime, his first love, meeting with Mozart and his deafness - that he could lose his inspiration, his compositions and arts by deleting the painful memories of his childhood and youth, unfulfilled longings and loves. Fate persuades him by the vision of the flocks of the future musicians, who were inspired by his music, who adapted his compositions, who learned from him and who were inspired by his symphonies. After his refusal tricky Mephistopheles creates a new proposal: give him the tenth symphony, which is unknown for the mankind and half-ready lying in his score and in exchange he will be saved from the damnation. Mozart' soul warns him not to sacrifice this perfect symphony, his masterwork, so Mephistopheles is refused again. His last proposal is: he points on a shivering orphan standing in the gutter, who will suffer all his life if Beethoven refuses to hand over the tenth symphony. Beethoven is at a loss and doubtful, he cannot change a child's life for a composition written just on a paper. However Fate interferes: he himself writes the contract between Devil and Beethoven with a voluntary mistake; but the mesmerized Devil does not recognize it and in vain he throws the tenth symphony into the fire, as it is not burned out. Coincidence laughs out and draws his attention to that mistake in the contract, after it Mephistopheles is angry, foams with rage and disappear in the mistiness. Beethoven immerses in his last dream knowing that his compositions not only give comfort for the people, but also the inspirations of the future musicians. 18.03.2011 Wien. The inspired artists are: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - its “conductor" is Paul O'Neill, performing their first no-Christmas album, ‘Beethoven's Last Night' (2000) from the beginning till the end, from Devil till Angel, from love till death. The tale is read and told by Bryan Hicks with his orotund-low, slightly husky, hypnotic voice, cutting off the flowing of the music by 1-2 record. There are two plasma television sets on both sides containing the German subtitle of the story; a brochure is given at the entrance - like in the opera-house - fulfilled by the lyrics, cast and so on. His gestures are vivid, his mimicry exaggerated, his tone is sometimes comical sometimes horroristic, willfully imposes on the effects - though he is deadly good. His performance sometimes is too much, but only then when the story "tells" it to do so e.g at the Mozart's hallucinations, at the final change in his fate or at imitating Twist's uproarious laughing. At first it is difficult to get used to the continuous interruptions in the music as we can see a clip-sequence with lots of comments, but the musical composition becomes more and more interesting listening to the lyrics, developing the story itself, placing the dramaturgic emphasis and questions. If Beethoven is the idol for O'Neill then Richard Wagner also should be - as the precise and well planned performance is a demonic impression, which cannot be avoided - grinds, stamps and manipulates you by your visions, emotions and music. The German myth-creator envisioned himself this way in his whole life work i.e. Gesamkunstwerk - he used dramatic story with scenery and music, which is different from the combination of music and scenery as each component intensifies each other by completing, defining and deepening every part and not parallel with each other. The room like in a theatre contains cushioned chairs, bow corner, set for church-window on the stage, display in the three oval windows following the music with the drawn figures of the booklet, moving picture studies, impressive color and lightplays and recurring visual leitmotivs. Constant smoke on the stage as you can see it on the videos of TSO, which emphasizes the hallucinating and visual side of the evolving story, as we are travelling in the heads of Beethoven and Paul O'Neill, as the outside world is lagging behind, we are drawn back by the constant clapping and ovation. Mephisto's flame is also heating the feelings even till the row 47. , continuously heating the air in front of Jeff Plate's drums. During it the green-blue lights are dancing, playing and pulling apart the stage, so the musician can hardly be seen. The musician can be seen by headlights on them, when they've got their solo part on violin, on guitar or on keyboard sounding the most emotional musical notes from the sheet music. But this is not a concert, but a performance without stars or with everybody being star - Vitalij Kuprij behind the keyboard, Jeff Scott Soto as the dubbing voice of Devil and Oliva, the complete Savatage instrument section ensures the music (only Oliva is at home because of some family reasons). They are all characters supplying the effects, which arrives with catharsis being a rare guest nowadays, its invitations is valid only for just for special occasions. But now it is already here during the prolog, while we are shivering in the warm, the cold is on the back and backbone. TSO is bowing its head in front of everybody's Ludwig: Savatage is playing the symphonies of Beethoven in a musical form. It isn't played in the usual, democratic and mixed version (one part of rock music mixed with one part of classical music), but depending on the main themes of Beethoven's symphonies and piano sonatas modified to electric guitar, drums and violin. The supplement is the perfect epic by Savatage minus metal music; so “Al Pitrelli's favorite guitarist", Chris Caffery is respectful and low-key, soft for the six-chords as the leading part is for the vocal melodies. These melodies go through the emotional chords of the story step by step with a joy in every moment: listing desperation, love, angry, nostalgia and aspiration as we are completely moved. What can we do if Ode to Joy is composed for this purpose? If it is so used as a mush, it should be another one's problem; we can hear only the essence of Für Elise for 40 seconds as Caffery and the others carefully sound it. They sound Moonlight Sonata and the famous Fifth Symphony during Overture as groundwork, then comes the keyboard play of the Midnight/Fate duo, and we are allured to the musical - rock opera universe similar to the records of Savatage (“Dead Winter Dead" and “The Wake of Magellan"). The chores of Fate are emphasizing the most beautiful Queen effects with a four-member female chorus and Soto helping them. The female chorus is multifunctional, sometimes they are dancing through the stage - that's why I feel myself on a rock concert, as dancing is like solid headbanging for them, they think it is for the rockers with an interesting choreography. Meanwhile several talented singers - not known by Europeans - are changing on stage, no one is here from the contributors of the records, which is not embarrassing at all; as Rob Evan is stepping and starring on the stage as Beethoven with his beautiful, warm organ and musical training. He had already got the best songs (There Was a Life, Epiphany) of the record ‘Night Castle' - not by chance I think so. He is properly mannered to have the drama in it, similarly to Daryl Pediford, the other miracle in TSO with his strained range of voice and emotional expression. His pair is Jeff Scott Soto, who is the chameleon tonight i.e. Oliva, whose melody, manner, style and tone are taken over from the records. His individuality is left home, he can sing anything he has to, although his motion culture is the old one, being among its characters frames - and when he introduces as Mephistopheles the catharsis is again coming. It is a high bow melody-miracle as the whole composition; the least known, but the most genius work of TSO: Paul O'Neill's vision about Beethoven, ode about genius filled with average and historic romantic, justifying him from his human faults. His Beethoven votes for the forever art, which is O'Neill's ars poetica as well: ensuring escapism, hide-away, cover and music-notes shell for the people, where they can ever wander and have a little rest. It's a romantic idol, but that's we like it. I do not want any disturbances in this wandering, resting and experience so I sharply set focus on Evan and Soto to have to remind for the empathy and recalling. Fortunately no need for extra concentration, it's going smoothly on its own. The young Beethoven, also known as Andrew Ross is talented, classical rocker style in his voice and appearance; he can be the supplement of Zak Stevens in the team in every aspect. The other important part of the impressive singing performance is Nataly Rose Piette as Theresa, Beethoven's love. She is beautiful, nice - she persuades me within a lightening during dedication - and fantastically performs the melancholy melodies of The Dreams of Candlelight and I'll Keep Your Secrets as they are the most impressive songs of the lyric section on the record. The spectators in Wien accept the interpretations of instrumental Beethoven with a very good appeal, the continuous clapping is guaranteed after each of these ones. The Fifth is sounded by the typical visual scenery of TSO - "That's how destiny knocks on your door" - according to Anton Felix Schindler. We can see the strike of the clock in the middle window place, then the playful and epic Mozart, in which Roddy Chang is starring with his electric violin, running back-and-forth on the stage as a mad man, like a “crazy" Axl Rose, with two slippings in the performance. His fellows, mainly the strings, the few membered orchestra are sitting in the left corner and playing the symphonic insection without spotlight. In spite of Caffery, who plays solo in Beethoven, kicking into the air, headbang, every movement is precisely planned, choreographed in this performance. Rob Evan singer-actor - also playing on Broadway - is exceeding himself in the ballad of Who Is This Child?, physically resumed, but emotionally passionate similar to Meat Loaf, also in his appearance. While Soto perfectly singing his musical notes, Evan is united by his role, portraying and living through every moment of Beethoven's agony. Kuprij's silent-intim piano play is the base for A Final Dream, which enclosing the story itself, as the fantasizing Beethoven is sleeping, dreaming, resting and remembering. So we remember Him and also O'Neill, the singers and the encore... Al Pitrelli is shambling to the mike and greeting the enthusiastic Viennese, who were not cheering all the way during "Vienna" - informing them about the next half an hour which will be not Hell, but Heaven for them, while helicopters are "flying through" the display during Another Way To Die singed by Soto. Perhaps I can criticize the chosen work, as there are more dynamic ones on the record, TSO could find easily more enjoyable or heavier ones also in Savatage's discography. Although it can heat up the atmosphere, we fell into the wartime story of ‘Night Castle', numbers are following each other from Toccata and Kuprij's keyboard solo till The Mountain by Grieg's fantastic madness. The spectators are cheering and clapping happily, the loudspeakers of the theatre are sounding enormously, even louder than Mephistoteles's voice; we get a foretaste of TSO gone metal. This performance isn't accepted by everyone, so those, who bought ticket for Beethoven, are leaving markedly - middle-aged men in suit with their well-dressed wives and mother-in-laws - as the spectators are really mixed: the fanatic heart of Savatage, intellectuals drinking wine in the hall, the opera-fans and plain rockers. The spectators, cca 4.000 people, are making compromise in spite of the decreasing level as Kayla Reeves emerging from the mist and is trying to sing one of the ever nicest ballads of Savatage, Sleep, with moderate success. When she is starting singing Help with easing up her voice, she is too exhibitionist and I think a real big casting mistake is done, as she wants to imitate Pediford in the similar way of her hoarse singing or just trying our tolerance-limit. Our miss lady finds her rocker version performing Help of Beatles and the brusque song of medley, although it is so forced; many like her on Youtube, but not us. The power ballad version of Help is interesting, but Sleep should be sung by Soto, if Oliva or Zak cannot be present. Anyway they really care about the heritage of Savatage in the encore-block and Sleep is an overwhelming experience as O'Neill, himself is walking onto the stage and performing it on acoustic guitar. If he is there he also says a few word with a little problem of the language - as Austrians are supposed not to know English - so Mee Eun Kim, the second keyboard player from the back is sent to translate the comments (also of Al Pitrelli's), then remembering for Oliva, who cannot be here, but that's why he is sending a song to us. Is it Believe? No. Instead of that we enjoyed Sleep; here comes Chance from the ‘Handful of Rain' album, one of the most classical songs of Savatage, Andrew Ross as the young Beethoven is behind the mike. He can enjoy himself here, theatrically solving Zak's opus, the part of the spectators are headbang standing, we can hear the notorious troll part with Soto's singing in the choir, pure luxury on the stage as Savatage is on and a Zak-like singer, what can it be, if not ... ? You can use any attributes here, it's up to you what this song means for you. Fortunately the experience is for us, the troll, the melody are still flying in the air, the grandiose concept, those lights and flame... It's over. Chat-snatches in Italian, Hungarian, German and English; tired eyes, nervous looks, smiling eyes, sparkling sights; handful people, huge hall, dedication. This is professional for ones, kindness for the others and a unique-especial, not recurring experience similar to a performance for everybody else. A long-haired, discursive and smart man being hidden by his sunglasses is sitting on a lonely bench not so far from the long dedicating table. Next to him his assistant in a suit is giving him records, photos and T-shirts. The man with sunglasses is showing his family photos and distributing relics, which were sold for expensive Euros at the Merch -counter recently. He's got kind comments to everyone - he says I should start playing music and puts half a dozen of picks into my hand and a booklet with photos, casting, and lyrics. Turning the pages and reading the stories about Mephistopheles's arrival, Beethoven's agony, there are Soto in a big sprawl in red light, Hicks is reading with gestures and Evan is singing on a greyish white picture. The lights of laser-show are crossing the pictures, Paul is also listening behind his sunglasses, next to his signature ("and if we are to further delve into this night and find ourselves, might we discover in our past, what in our lives might one day last" -writes). Beethoven is holding his tenth symphony high-pitched, then we can hear The Fifth, Moonlight Sonata and Ode to Joy in the prolog... It's starting. Setlist: Overture Midnight Fate What Good This Deafness? Mephistopheles What Is Eternal? Mozart and Memories Vienna Mozart The Dreams of Candlelight Requiem (The Fifth) The Dark Für Elise The Fifth After the Fall A Last Illusion This Is Who You Are Misery Who Is This Child A Final Dream --------------------- Toccata and Fugue in D minor The Mountain Sleep (Savatage) / Help (The Beatles) medley Another Way You Can Die Carmina Burana: O Fortuna Flight of the Bumble Bee Chance (Savatage) Written by Tomka Translated by Kottek Zsuzsanna Photos by Savafan More photos can be viewed here.