December 2004


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Archive for December 30th, 2004


Posted in Life on December 30th, 2004

For those of you that weren’t there, you missed out. Big-time. Three words:


Some 7,600 close friends and I trooped on down to the Rose Quarter for what should be for all a Christmas tradition. Most people enjoy classical, but tend to listen to rock. This band lets you do both, in tremendous style. Many of the songs are original compositions, but they also bring new life to old favorites by combining an orchestra with a rock band.

It doesn’t stop there though – they blend musical styles from all over the world. There are chunks of gospel, blues, heavy metal, country and at one point I could have sworn I was listenning to ABBA. Add to that a full-on rock concert lighting and pyrotechnics show and you’re left stunned, saddened, uplifted and amazed. Bethoven himself would have weeped. I know I did.

All of the performers are truly top-notch, but some things stand out more than others:

Al Pitrelli is truly a great guitarist, and it’s a shame he doesn’t get more press. While his own style is distinctive and well-developed, he is also able to emulate with great effect the styles of other greats in his field. Throughout the concert, you hear snippets of Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Alex Lifeson and others I couldn’t name. Not riffs lifted from their work, but rather their style suited to Al’s music. I swear he was channeling them.

Guy LeMonnier is an operetic-trained baritone the likes of which you rarely hear next to screaming guitars, and it’s something the world needs more of. Even stranger is his ability to sing in other ranges – last year they broke into a few bars of “Stairway to Heaven” for kicks and brought the house to it’s feet.

One of the female vocalists (her name escapes me) is petite to the point of being tiny. She comes out on stage, and as she walks by one of the guitarists you get perspective and see just how small she is – on the outside, anyway. Her voice absolutely filled that arena to the rafters, and not just because of the amplifiers – they just added a little wind for those wings to soar on.

Anna Phoebe is probably the World’s Sexiest Viloinist. Unlike classical violinists, nobody ever taught her to sit still while she plays, and she puts all of her emotion into her art. Keeping her in her chair would be impossible. She doesn’t just wander around the stage though – she stalks it like a Valkyrie, all the while wringing every last note from her instrument with a seldom seen fire. Her style is infectious, too – the rest of the orchestra (Our own Portland Strings) got into the swing of things and cut loose a bit. The cellist was even playing his instrument over his head during a couple of the more powerful songs.

Did I say powerful? That is a bit of an understatement for this show. The encore included a favorite of mine, and probably yours as well. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the piece, but it’s been used in any number of scary movies and even a commercial – the one with the people on the subway singing it. In any case, mein gott do they pull that one off. The music hits you from all sides, the vocals punch you right on the gut, and to top it all off, the fireballs from the back of the stage blast heat all the way to the back wall of the arena.

If I were the Devil, it would be my theme song.