After blogging yesterday about my inability to come to terms with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's appeal, I talked with my wife about it and she went straight to Vegas and the spectacle of Blue Man Group. That certainly explains the success of the stage show, which is so popular that there are two TSO companies that travel the country during the holiday season. But it doesn't explain people buying the records - or maybe it does. Perhaps the songs themselves are best thought of in terms of spectacle, with Christmas songs and popular pieces of classical music arranged for two keyboards, two or three electric guitars, two electric violinists, a string section and five or six voices. The songs are taken out of their traditional contexts and given an arena-rock bigness and the crunch-lite of electric guitars. The songs are expanded in scope to an absurd degree to where they lose all of their intimacy, but they do have a grandeur - an empty grandeur, but a grandeur nonetheless - in the hands of the TSO.
Still, the audience's biggest applause was for Led Zep and Jimi Hendrix quotes, and Robin Zander's guest spot to do a couple of Cheap Trick songs, which suggests there are limits to the power of spectacle.