Ringing in the holiday season with a rock ‘n’ roll sha-bang with the Ghosts of Christmas Eve: Review of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Live at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL
I can’t honestly tell you how many times I’ve visited Trans-Siberian Orchestra for their holiday shows over the years – at least a ½ a dozen. That being said, seeing the band in December never gets old. Their high octane holiday extravaganza is a must-see for every music fan. Blending original and time tested Holiday favorites TSO takes the stage like no other force in rock music. If you were to take away the pyrotechnics, lights, lasers, fire; what would remain would be exceptional musicianship and good solid music. Penned by composer extraordinaire Paul O’Neill (brainchild and founder of the group), whom sadly passed away this year, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live is an experience. Many of their fans, like me, come back year after year. For many of us seeing them live in concert kicks off the Christmas season. As a fan I did question whether or not TSO would be making their yearly run after the loss of O’Neill. As per their official website, confirming a 2017 tour was the horizon. “While all of us, the members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra family are heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friend and leader Paul O’Neill, we are determined to carry on the rock theater project to which he dedicated his life,” read a collective statement. Carry on they have with grace, style and electric guitars wailing.
Continuing, the group commented, “Paul always talked about how he saw TSO as both an idea and ideal that would continue long after he stepped off the ‘flight deck’ (his name for the stage). We hope to continue his work of providing a timeless, multi-generational tradition like those created by his idol Charles Dickens. In that spirit, we are proud to announce that Trans-Siberian Orchestra will return with their 2017 Winter Tour featuring the cherished tale The Ghosts of Christmas Eve!”
Tonight at the BB&T Center we once again gather with old friends and new to experience The Lost Christmas Eve. The production included an eight-member band, six-member local sting section (the local chapter of TSO) and nine vocalists whom utilized every single space of the huge arena stage, including elevating rafters above the audience. Over two hours and 25 minutes, their 27 song set was bigger than big. Then again, this is how TSO plays every year, every show. Essentially divided in three parts (the Introduction, The Lost Christmas Eve, and the Best of TSO) their show included lush orchestrated Christmas favorites which remain the highlight of the show and its centerpiece narrated by dramatic storyteller Brian Hicks. Let us not forget the snow falling from the ceiling of the arena.
New staging, risers, a theater façade, a walkway hovering over the audience, backdrop screens, and fire that heated up the place – it was a cool 58 degrees outside, tonight TSO brought all the bells and whistles. Included were scorching guitar solos and progressive-rock combos breathing new life into Christmas standards: O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World, to name a few. Of course highlights included my personal favorites, What Child Is This, Christmas Dreams, and For The Sake Of Our Brother. The night would not be complete without the classic instrumentals Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24), Wizards of Winter, and Siberian Sleigh Ride which had the entire arena on their feet. Perhaps the most poignant and significantly inspiring came towards the end of the show. A heartfelt tribute to Paul O’Neill included the song Safest Way Into Tomorrow accompanied by thousands of phone lights held by audience members throughout the arena. It was an uplifting moment between the band and fans celebrating the life of work of O’Neill. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in concert is not to be missed. It is a wonderful holiday tradition that sparks the soul and warms the heart no matter how many times I visit.