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December 3, 2000
Northrop Auditorium (U. of MN)
A crowd of 2,363 turned out for
the 2nd date of TSO West's tour. The crowd was a typical bizarre mix with everyone from 17 to
70 years old represented (so to speak). There were 'bangers, dweebs, hotties, Joe Sixpacks,
coffee house types, young couples, and families with small children. Everyone was having
a ball and much of the crowd was already familiar with the music, though there were a few
people who attended merely because they heard the music on accident, on the radio, or in
the case of one fiftysomething biker dude, "because BMG accidentally sent me a Savatage CD."
Hmmm, perhaps we're on to the next killer music marketing gimmick...
There had been significant radio
coverage of the event. Local station Mix 104.1 which recently switched formats to "Mostly '80s, most
of the time" was sponsoring the concert and had been running promo spots on an amazingly
regular basis. Another local radio ratings powerhouse (KQRS 92) had been running ads as
well as playing TSO tracks.
Attire was mixed. I saw everything
from jeans and t-shirts (some Savatage tour shirts) to jacket & tie. Somewhere in the middle
was the most commonly chosen attire. Women were in everything from pantsuits to little
black dresses to thigh-high boots. You name it, it was there.
The setlist was identical to the
Wilkes-Barre, PA show (which was actually TSO East): Boughs of Holly, entire Christmas Eve
and Other Stories (except for A Star To Follow, Promises to Keep, and Postscripts), The
Three Kings and I (What Really Happened), including a 'scat' routine with the Soulful White
Dude who sang the parts normally handled by Daryl, Grinch, The Snow Came Down, Mozart,
Christmas in the Air, Last Illusion, Requiem (The Fifth), Find Our Way Home (encore),
Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24).
Most of the touring company
was new this year. Only Tommy Farese, Johnny Lee Middleton, and the narrator (I believe)
were alumni from the '99 tour. Newcomers included George Cintron (stage left guitar) and
Damon LaScot (stage right guitar).
The sound mix was a little
fubared. Unlike the extremely loud (fun!) Chicago show in 1999, the volume was turned
down, though not to the point where it was annoying. One guitar player seemed buried too
far down in the mix; the strings seemed too far in front at times and nonexistent at
times. One keyboard player was buried in the mix too; bass drums were muddy, Johnny's
bass was muddy too (no definition). Essentially, there were a lot of songs where
percussion and rhythm was all you heard - little or no melody which is normally carried
by one keyboard player and one guitar player. Go figure. I think I "heard" the melody
more than I would have otherwise simply because I know the songs forwards and backwards.
There is a lot of merchandise on
sale at the shows, though the various items are VERY expensive compared to those sold on
the 1999 tour...and it's the same stuff for the most part. Beethoven's Last Night t-shirts
(blue or white, $27), TSO polo shirts ($50), all three CDs ($20 ea.), glass ornaments (new
for 2000), wrapping paper (new for 2000), and postcard sets based on the album covers (new
There was a complete-band
meet-n-greet/autograph signing session immediately afterward.
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