–by Laura Tucker
The Enterprise Center in downtown Saint Louis was packed to the rafters on Saturday for the matinee performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and they delivered two and a half hours of pure, unbridled Christmas joy. And I suspect the evening show was just as highly attended.
As I was walking in from the parking lot, I spoke to a little boy who said he was “shivering with excitement.” I couldn’t agree more. I have wanted to do this for so long and had always managed to miss it. But this was my year and as expected, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s easy to see why the jaw-dropping show is so popular.
It had all of the makings of a true rock concert, complete with fan’s fists and real flames in the air, but this show is all about Christmas. To say our senses were stimulated, would be an immense understatement. Pyrotechnics, lasers, fog and fire were a huge part of the entertainment, but an unexpected mid-show element was real snow that fell from the massive snow machines above. It was cool! Very cool!
Another incredible part of the show is the screen behind the band. At times, walking us though this years themed rock opera story “The Ghost of Christmas Eve” – a tale written by creator Paul O’Neill. It was about a teenage girl; a runaway. She finds herself alone, sleeping in an old theater on Christmas Eve and was discovered by the caretaker. A live narrator walked us through the story and drew us in. Throughout the first hour or so, it was incorporated into the program until we reached the and she was blessed with a box of money that allowed her to go home for Christmas. The message was simple. It only takes one person to extend a helping hand and turn a life around.
For the rest of the program, we were wowed with so many favorite Christmas songs like “Come All Ye Faithful,” Joy to the World,” “Oh Holy Night” and “Greensleeves.” while smooth guitar riffs, keyboard notes and symphonic melodies carried the songs and nudge us to hum along. Every single person in the large band has boundless talent and energy. The five female backup singers sounded more like a huge choir. The amount of showmanship and choreographed movement was impressive. Every detail is planned out and flawlessly executed, down to the last hair flip.
The stage was comprised of various levels and the guitarists, violinist and vocalists moved around throughout the show. There were even risers that came up from the back of the arena that they perched on. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the apparatus spun around and shot flames from its shell. Later in the show, a large triangular bridge came seemingly from nowhere and towered over the audience while the performers took turns wooing the crowd from it.
But aside from the visually stunning moments, the music is the real star. Arrangements that we have come to know and love from the TSO like “Carol of the Bells” and “Christmas Canon Rock (in D)” just left the majority speechless. All we could do was smile and applaud.
One of my favorite parts of the show came when the “Nutcracker Suite” was performed. On the screen, there was an army of giant nutcrackers marching to the beat. It just created the most amazing feeling.
An interesting piece of knowledge came during introductions. The orchestra section, is actually the local Trans-Siberian Chapter. That is standard for the tour. The core band is comprised of 36 members (not all on stage at once) and are too many to mention by name but you can find them all, with photos, on the band’s website at trans-siberian.com
At the end of the show, a moment was reserved for a dedication to the creator of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The concept and vision of Paul O’Neill has brought joy to audiences for over 25 years. He brought the concept to life with the help of friends Robert Kinkel, Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (still on guitar) forming the core writing team.
The stories that intertwine with the music are also his creation, written before his passing in 2017.
“We always try to write melodies that are so infectious they don’t need lyrics and lyrics so poetic that they don’t need a melody, but when you combine the two together they create an alloy where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Once those songs are woven together into a tapestry they create a story which gives each song a third dimension.”
I can only say that I am thrilled that this was the year I decided to make the Trans-Siberian Orchestra part of my holiday.
- The Lost Christmas Eve
- The Ghosts of Christmas Eve
- O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night
- Good King Joy
- Christmas Dreams
- Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
- Christmas Canon Rock
- What Child Is This?
(William Chatterton Dix cover)
- Music Box Blues
- First Snow
- Promises to Keep
- This Christmas DayVideo Interlude
Second Half of Concert
- Christmas Carousels / Siberian Sleigh Ride
- A Mad Russian’s Christmas
- For the Sake of Our Brother
- Christmas in the Air
- Wizards in Winter
- Child of the Night / A Last Illusion
- If I Go Away
(Savatage cover) (Dedicated to Paul O’Neill)
- Madness of Men
- The Snow Came Down
- Requiem (The Fifth)