The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Live in Concert at the BB&T Center, November 29, 2013
There are many wonderful and magical events that come with every holiday season. Beautiful sparkling lights on Christmas Trees, eating fattening foods with little or no guilt, standing in line at the local shopping malls for hours, overpaying for gifts, pushing, shoving, fighting for parking spaces, suffering the visit of the in-laws, and non-stop toy commercials on TV. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside doesn’t it? However, if you’re a music fan there is hope in the arrival of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra coming live in concert to your city. As you may already know I am a huge fan of the band and have been for years. I’ve seen them in concert so many times I’ve lost count. If there’s one certainty their shows are always an extravaganza of lights, sound, good times and holiday cheer.
The show at the BB&T center this evening (the band is playing two shows – 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM) has a special and sentimental holiday glow. Marking the bands encore and final performance of “The Lost Christmas Eve,” there is no doubt they are going to out with a proverbial bang rather than a whimper. Frost the Snowman and Rudolph will be nowhere in sight this evening. With the possible exception of being across the street shopping at the mall. Though the backstory of “The Lost Christmas Eve,” is darker than most holiday fare the band’s performance is uplifting, light, and filled with a wonderful rock ‘n’ roll spirit. The stage’s backdrop is that of a three story building. During the opening of the show the projection morphs the scene into a 3D train ride that is swift and dazzling. Transported through time and space the audience is struck silent by the scenes of Dante’s Inferno; complete with fire, thunder, lightning, rain, and shattering windows turning the structure into one of ice.
At any given moment during the 2 ½ hour show the stage is filled with 7 band members, 10 vocalists, and 6 local string players from the hometown symphony. Rolling through fan favorites which include the iconic classics “Wizards of Winter,” and “Christmas Eve/Sarevajo12/24,”one thing is for sure, even after all these years the band can still rock, and rock loudly with the best of them. If you’ve never been fortunate enough to see TSO live let me give you a little background. Their Christmas show not merely playing holiday music with a rock attitude or electric guitars. As with their previous releases, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” and “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” there is a story that is narrated along with the performance. The ‘storyteller,’ for this show is TSO veteran Bryan Hicks. His deep baritone voice not only lends to the presentation of the piece but adds dramatic license that touches the heart and soul. “The Lost Christmas Eve,” in short tells the tale of a man who has lost all sentiment for the holiday season. Due to indiscretions of the past, the death of his wife and childbirth, and the abandoning of his son (who is mentally and physically challenged) the man must come to terms with his deeds. You’ll be happy to know there is a happy ending to our story as the man and his son find each other in the very same facility he left the boy years ago.
Throughout the show there is a spattering of Christmas classics including “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “What Child Is This,” and the Peanuts theme “Linus and Lucy.” Christmas just isn’t the same without that familiar light piano thumping tune. The musicians that make up the band have always been the crème of the crop. Chris Caffery (guitars) and Joel Hoekstra (guitars) play off each other throughout trading solos and ‘rock God’ poses. There wasn’t a moment Joel didn’t have a broad bright smile on his face as he engaged the audience swinging his long blonde hair around in a circle and head banging. David Z (bass), Derek Wieland (keyboards, musical director), Jeff Plate (drums), Luci Butler (keyboards) and Roddy Chong (violin). Watching Roddy was a show all on its own. With true pizazz and a rock soul, he performed high kicks, deep knee bends, ran back and forth across the stage, and commanded everyone’s attention as if his violin had magical transformed into an electric guitar. Rob Evan (vocals) portrayed the father of our story with grace, heartfelt sentiment and a wonderful voice that was truly inspiring especially when performing one of my favorite TSO songs, “Back to a Reason.”
If you’ve yet to experience the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in concert during the holidays I can’t recommend seeing them enough. You will be treated to lasers, lights, fire, incredible sound, fireworks, band members on steel arms rising high above the floor seats into the rafters, and a platform that gives everyone in the back of the arena a bird’s eye view of the musicians close-up and personal. There wasn’t anyone present that didn’t feel a part of the show or left without a smile on their face. And after all, isn’t that the best part of the holiday season?