Tonawanda News

Features

April 8, 2010

TSO embarks upon holiday-free music tour

NORTH TONAWANDA — For the first time in years, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will play in Buffalo during a nonwinter month.

And that suits Paul O’Neill just fine.

O’Neill, founder of and writer for the group, spoke during a recent phone interview about the band’s pending theater tour. The focal point of the 31-city tour will be the band’s latest album, the gold-certified “Night Castle,” as well as the long-awaited staging of the band’s third album, “Beethoven’s Last Night.”

Having just come off of another successful holiday run — TSO’s 2009 Christmas tour saw the band perform before more than 1.2 million fans, including a packed house at HSBC Arena in December — the band is glad to finally bring “Night Castle” to life, O’Neill said.

“In rock, there’s a rhythm — write, record, finish and tour for one or two years. (The annual holiday tours) just meant that right in the middle of recording ‘Night Castle’ in particular, every November everything would shut down ... we would tour for eight weeks ... and then go back in the studio,” he said. “ ‘Beethoven’ would have been toured years ago, but we just wanted to finish ‘Night Castle.’ ”

When TSO was created in 1996, O’Neill pitched the band to the record label (Lava/Atlantic Records) as a full-on rock opera group. The intention was to complete two trilogies — one relating to Christmas and one not — but the success of the group’s Christmas material (two platinum albums, “The Christmas Attic” and “The Lost Christmas Eve,” and one double-platinum album in “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”) put the nonholiday material on hold.

“The Christmas trilogy got bigger than we could have ever imagined,” he said. “Christmas is too large a subject. It’s too big for me to put on one album. In the entertainment world, Christmas is the holy grail.”

O’Neill’s grand vision, also a holy grail of sorts, was equally attainable. In the mold of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and The Who, O’Neill wanted to use grandiose orchestras and a dozen or more vocalists to tell a story. The influence of Beethoven, one of O’Neill’s primary inspirations, can be identified in “Night Castle” as well as the TSO album that bears his name.

“To me, Beethoven was the first heavy metal rock star,” O’Neill said. “TSO’s rock operas are about subjects that are larger than life. Every rock opera tells us the story first in prose form and then again in poetry form.”

While the story remains the same, the setting will change. Spatial constraints have compelled the TSO crew to minimize its stage production — which is known for pyrotechnics, lasers and big, bold set pieces — in favor of smaller items that can fit in theaters. While this past holiday tour saw TSO take 38 tractor trailers full of lights from city to city, the upcoming theater tour will see only five tractor trailers accompany the group.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of our goals in arenas,” said O’Neill, who said the group’s tendency is to want to go bigger and better every holiday season. “ We were a little scared to go back in theaters ... but now everyone’s psyched. We’ve done it before, but we got used to stadiums. If we wanted something bigger, we could just build out the set. We can’t do that this time.

“There’s something about theaters that’s magical. It’s intimate, not just from the fans’ point of view but the musicians’ point of view ... It doesn’t let you get into a comfortable rut.”

Plus, O’Neill said, Buffalo should treat him and the band better in April.

“It’s just a great rock town, but the cold cuts through you,” he said. “In the dead of winter, you can’t move your hands there (outside in the cold).”

“Can’t” seems to be a word that TSO’s members aren’t used to hearing much. Once this tour is over, TSO will work on an outdoor summer tour that will feature a set piece about which O’Neill was ebullient — a 100-yard-wide pyrotechnic piece that’s meant to create an eight-foot wall of flames, which dance up and down to the music. There’s also a Broadway production that’s in the works (which O’Neill hopes to debut in a couple years) and the third part of the nonholiday trilogy, which has tentatively been titled “Romanov: What Kings Must Whisper,” about Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution in 1918.

Whatever the band endeavors next, O’Neill said that TSO’s supporters will be the inspiration.

“The bottom line is bands exist for their fans,” he said. “Our job is to give the best music with the most emotional impact for the lowest price and to constantly push the envelope.”

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Performance by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

• WHEN: 7:30 p.m. April 15

• WHERE: Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St., Buffalo

• MORE INFORMATION: Call 847-1410 or visit sheas.org

1
Text Only
Features
  • SUN LIFE fair story 1 072714.jpg More than rides & food

    When the Niagara County Fair opens Wednesday, hundreds of people will enter the county fairgrounds in Lockport for the first of five days of exhibits, shows, rides and food.

    But what not all of the visitors may realize is that much of this summer tradition is the result of months of hard work by 4-H Club members and their leaders and families, all focused on the words of the 4-H motto: “Learn By Doing.”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE tattoo 1 072714.jpg COLUMN: Behind the tattoo gun

    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - Crib Notes 2014 RGB.jpg CRIB NOTES: No matter what, the kids just want to play the game

    At 35 years old, I may be the oldest person ever to record an out in a kids’ T-ball league.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Visiting the neighbors

    This past week, our lovely neighbors went to the beach for their annual weeklong vacation.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Open gardens 1 072014.jpg Stop and smell the flowers

    More than 90 private gardens throughout Western New York, and a number of public ones, are open to the public for select hours Thursdays and/or Fridays during July as part of the National Garden Festival’s Open Gardens program, now in its fifth year. The program is separate and distinct from local garden walks, and the gardens range from Gasport to Holland. They’re organized into districts of about five to eight gardens each, including Northtowns West (which includes gardens in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda) and Niagara Trail (which includes gardens in Lockport, Gasport and Lewiston).

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE terrariums 1 072014.jpg For the love of nature

    Sara Johnson lives surrounded by green and growing things. Showing a visitor around her apartment in North Buffalo, she pointed out the plants in every room, the balcony and even in two small greenhouses — houseplants, flowers, vegetables, even carnivorous plants.

    "I try to keep as much growing in the house as I can," she said.

    Another goal of hers is to show others how to do the same — and to that end, Johnson is offering a series of workshops this summer in connection with her business, Sylvatica Terrariums, and Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, teaching people how to bring a piece of the outdoors into their homes in the form of a terrarium or other greenery.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE fresh air 1 072014.JPG Getting some fresh air

    As an effort to get children out of the big city and give them a chance to spend part of their summer playing outside, the Fresh Air Fund brings New York City kids to stay with host families for a 10-day trip to a place which is vastly different from their usually surroundings.

    “They will be running outside and playing in the grass and going swimming,” said Cheryl Flick, a fund representative of the Northern Erie and Niagara Counties chapter of the Fresh Air Fund at a picnic for the host families and kids. “They won’t be cooped up inside, they’ll be outside, getting fresh air and being active.”

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - SUN LIFE double trouble 2014.jpg Still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts

    I think it’s true of many parents, that amidst the many challenges and hard work of parenting, we anticipate the day our children grow up just enough ... to like the same things we like, whether it’s as an ongoing phenomenon or a fond childhood memory.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Calling all the basic locavores!

    Did you know that the suffix “vore” comes from the Latin word “voro,” which means to devour? I probably knew that once, but I should have paid better attention in my Latin class. “Vore” is used to form nouns indicating what kind of a diet an animal has, such as omnivore, carnivore and herbivore.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE NT tours 071314.jpg A closer look at NT

    When Explore Buffalo Tours got started about eight months ago, the business concentrated on specialized tours designed to showcase specific aspects of the City of Buffalo’s history, architecture and culture.

    Now the organization is looking to the future and trying out ways to highlight the other unique aspects of the Western New York region. The tours change out each month, but the more popular ones will circulate back in, according to Explore Buffalo Executive Director Brad Hahn. This month it’s test-driving its “North Tonawanda: Lumber City” tour, one of only a few to take place outside the City of Buffalo. (Although a Lockport tour is in the works.)

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo