Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an arena juggernaut super group formed by four members of progressive metal/hard rock band, Savatage. The band only tours in winter and is so massive that they have a west coast version of the band and an east coast version of the band with two members from Savatage taking control of each version. Bassist Johnny Lee Middleton, drummer Jeff Plate, and guitarists Al Pitrelli and Chris Caffery. Two decades and hundreds of sold-out arena shows later, all four musicians still tour with the band each winter, albeit as members of different touring troupes. Pitrelli and Middleton are the longtime anchors of “TSO West,” while Plate and Caffery are stalwarts of “TSO East.” The band is known for their extensive use of lights, lasers, and pyro that can be seen from space by the International Space Station and makes for one of the most beautiful shows that anyone will ever see. TSO has never needed an opening act so their shows are always 2-3 hours long. This tour was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their winter tour called, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. The first of two shows at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California was packed with long lines at every entrance with fans of all ages ready for a spectacular night.
The lights went out and the packed venue cheered as the curtains came off and revealed the stage with the choir in place and guitarist Angus Clark front and center as TSO started the show with Night Enchanted. The metal orchestra music hit you and you were instantly transferred to a magical world as lasers and lights filled the arena. The first segment of the song ended and the next song Winter Palace started with keyboards and soon after, the huge lights towering the stage came down like platforms and revealed three other members to join the rest of the band. The Lost Christmas Eve was the third song performed and it was executed beautifully with more lasers for a beautiful sight. Now, it was time for the main segment of the show which was called The Ghosts of Christmas Eve where TSO‘s best Christmas songs are performed. Storyteller Phillip Brandon came out to introduce the story to the segment; a storyline about a runaway who takes refuge in an abandoned theatre on Christmas Eve, and experiences the musical performances as ghostly visions from the theatre’s past. The first two songs performed were the popular tracks O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night and Good King Joy which are featured on the band’s 1996 debut album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories. One of the highlights of the night was when TSO performed their most famous song Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 which is often featured in Christmas commercials. Two members of the band went to the back of the venue standing on platforms that went all around the venue while performing the song. Other songs from segment included Christmas Canon Rock, Music Box Blues, and Promises to Keep. During the performance of First Snow, the venue was filled with many beautiful lasers and to match the theme of the song. Bits of foam came down on the audience to mimic snow and it was quite funny to see people covered in bits of foam. The Ghost of Christmas Eve segment came to an end with Brandon once again coming out to announce the end of the segment, then left as TSO came out to perform This Christmas Day which featured Jeff Scott Soto on vocals who is best known as the singer on Yngwie Malmsteen’s first two albums. Pitrelli came out to greet the audience and thanked them for twenty years of winter touring and showed his condolences for all the recent tragic events that California had been having. He also asked the audience if they wanted more music. Naturally, the crowd cheered. The show went on with the second set starting off with Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness), A Mad Russian’s Christmas, Christmas Nights In Blue, Wizards In Winter, and Carmina Burana. Pitrelli came out once again to show his love for TSO founding member Paul O’Neill who passed away in 2017. He mentioned how the next song they were about to play was the first song that the two of them wrote together which was the song, Someday. It was a beautiful and emotional song. TSO went back to their Savatage roots by performing a Savatage cover of Chance, one of the band’s popular songs. A few more songs in and TSO played a reprised version of Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 which was the second half of the song. The show came to a grand finale with fireworks, lights, and pyro engulfing the whole stage. A truly amazing spectacle to see after over two hours of magical music. The whole band came out to bow to the audience and left Pitrelli alone on stage as he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.