The final performance of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra‘s Beethoven’s Last Night in the area took place in Youngstown last night. The incredible vocalists, precise musicianship, and stunning special effects were intertwined with narration detailing Beethoven’s angst filled final night on earth. That’s too much for some people, but not me. Instead of reviewing a show that left me speechless when I first saw it 3 years ago, I choose to praise the kind of musical experience that it offers.
TSO founder Paul O’Neil dubbed it “rock theater” in an effort to describe this musical combination. In reality, it is one of the last interesting thing happening in the area that I love so much called rock n roll. It rocks for sure, guitarists Al Pitrelli and Chris Caffery make sure of that, but this is no “3 chords and a cloud of dust” musical direction.
In an era where new rockers cite the musically vacant sounds of the Ramones as inspiration, it is indeed a pleasure to hear something with musical complexity. In addition, old rockers are either under the impression that what they have to say is more important than framing those thoughts with anything even remotely interesting musically, or are simply recycling old demos that they never could get right 30 years ago.
Rock Theater certainly reaches into the Broadway backstages to find some of the best voices, and presents them along side of wailing guitars, smoke, lights, and lazers. And when all of that is combined with an engaging story line, it becomes a satisfying musical experience based on rock n roll.
Rock has always been among the most important things in my life. Where it goes from here I can’t say for sure. The glory days are in the rear view mirror. The present is bleak, and the future is dismal. Music styles come and go, it’s part of the circle of life. But for my money, what I saw last night in Youngstown is one of the last chances for some kid sitting in an audience 20 years from now to lean over and ask his grandfather “What the heck was that”? And the old guy will smile, filled with a lifetime of similar sights and say, “That my boy, is a guitar solo”!