What occurred last night happens very seldom—-I had a ticket to a concert at the FargoDome’s Gate City Theater. I saw and heard the famed and adored "Mannheim Steamroller" after having loved their music since about 1980 when Eldest Son brought home some audiotapes of the first two "Fresh Aire" albums from the mid-1970′s.
It was a marvelous experience for me and for all the other "Steamrollers" who have been buying their albums over the years. My daughter- in -law is as big a M.S. fan as I am, so both of us were there, as well as our husbands (father and son). The men agreed that the concert was excellent, even though they may not have been as enthusiastic about attending as the women were. It was just magnificent, from the first notes of the first half of the concert in which they played music from all the "Fresh Aire" albums. I heard many familiar and dearly loved melodies played in the way that only the Mannheim Steamroller and its originator, Chip Davis, meant them to be played.
I was surprised by the smallness of the traveling ensemble….5 full time Steamrollers plus a small group of professional musicians from Fargo-Moorhead, who provided additional strings, brass (two trumpets) and some percussion. The Steamroller sound is largely generated by sophisticated recorded orchestration plus the most elegant synthesizer sounds anywhere. It was nearly overwhelming to a M.S. freak like I am….along with my daughter- in law. The two of us very nearly went into a genuine "swoon" when they opened the second half with "Morning" from the "Yellowstone" album. The pleasures of the music just kept washing over us like giant ocean waves until you think you cannot take even one more beautiful sound….but they kept coming til the very end, when the enthusiastic crowd produced an encore; we got to hear several more Steamroller songs from the Christmas albums.
It is a most energetic performance by the 5 traveling members….the keyboard player, especially, got his excercise, moving from one instrument to another (including a tiny child’s rinky-tinky- sounding piano mounted on a moving cart which he pushed across the stage while playing). The regular piano is capable of many sounds including harpsichord. The violinist had all sorts of options for sounds with his several electronic violins; he played music that sounded like a quartet of French Horns, for one example. The bass guitarist literally danced his way through the concert.
The effects of the entire concert included awe (the sound and the visual arts accompanying the sounds); the beautiful and often-eerie lighting effects; and the reaction of the Steamroller audience, who were a noticelably older crowd (probably teenagers or college students from the mid 1970′s and the early 1980′s)
I must say that every cent of the ticket price was MORE than worth it! What a great night!