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 21 years that TSO has been touring yearly and in celebration, were performing their debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories in its entirety . The newly re-named Toyota Arena (formerly Citizens Business Bank Arena) had two shows and with the first show in the after noon packed and possibly sold out, it’s safe to assume that the second show in the evening was also packed.
The lights went out and the packed venue erupted in excitement as the venue’s huge stage setup was beautifully lit up. Phillip Brandon serves as TSO‘s narrator/storyteller and came out to say hello to the audience and introduced the show to the audience. The and came on stage and started the show with the choral piece Who I Am which is a beautiful start to the show. Afterwards, the debut album was started with An Angel Came Down with singer John Brink. The song is beautifully executed just like in the album. The stage was covered in bright lights which is what TSO is known for. After almost every song, Brandon would come back out to continue telling the story to the debut album. TSO is also known for adding theatrics to their shows which includes lots of fire shot in streams to match the music playing looking like a dance. During the performance of First Snow, there was foam dropped from the ceiling to match the effect of snow. One of the most memorable songs performed is TSO‘s most famous song, Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. The song perfectly combines elements of metal with the spirit of Christmas and is a perfect song for any Christmas situation. TSO continued to play classics from the debut album which included Ornament, Old City Bar, A Mad Russian’s Christmas, and Promises to Keep. The album came to an end with An Angel Returned and the band left the stage. Standing alone center stage was guitarist Al Pitrelli that stayed behind to thank everyone in the audience for coming out and if they were ready to blow more stuff up with the rest of the stage coming to life. The audience, of course, cheered. The band came back out to perform some classic TSO tunes starting with The Storm/The Mountain which also featured a brand new Tesla Coil that also shot out fire. It seems TSO always found ways to wow the audience. Being that TSO was formed by former members of Savatage, it’s no surprise to see them bring out some covers. The first Savatage cover was the popular track, Handful of Rain. TSO also bring out some classical tunes like Beethoven and Mozart blended with a metal twist and of course, lots of lasers and flashing lights. Pitrelli once again too a quick break to introduce all the band members involved. The last one he introduced was co-founding member Paul O’Neill who tragically passed away in 2017. Pitrelli mentioned how a cassette he had never seen before suddenly appeared in his studio. Upon playing it, he realized it had been a never-before-heard acoustic song by O’Neill. In his honor, Pitrelli played the song and named it Can You Hear Me Now. Another one of the highlights of the show was when TSO played a cover of the classic Savatage song, Believe. It was beautifully executed just as the original song. Other TSO classics performed included Wizards In Winter, Christmas Canon Rock, Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness) and Requiem (The Fifth). To end the spectacular show, TSO played a reprise version of Christmas Eve and went all out with fireworks, lasers and fire everywhere. A grand ending to one of the biggest stage shows the Earth has ever seen. The whole band came out to bow to the audience, then left. TSO is without a doubt one of the most spectacular bands you’ll ever see live and should be seen by anyone and everyone.
TSO/Chloe Lowery – The Prince of Peace