Monday, December 24, 2012
Concert review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra drives home Christmas cheer with screaming guitars and glitzy laser show
The TSO: where pyrotechnics warm the heart.
DALLAS Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s cross-genre Christmas show electrified American Airlines Center on Sunday with two sold-out performances. The bright lights, fiery fiddles, and rock-opera Christmas songs proved again why the band is a hit year after year.
Founded in 1993 by producer, composer, and lyricist Paul O’Neill, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has sold nearly 10 million concert tickets worldwide. In 2009, Billboard magazine rated the band as one of the top 10 ticket-sellers of the new millennium. Each of the band’s six albums includes a spoken narrative that threads the songs together.
The current tour is a full-length rendition of The Lost Christmas Eve, the story of an angel who visits Earth to redeem a lost soul. Narrator Phillip Brandon’s rich bass voice adds a touch of music to the clunky lines about the angel’s visit to a hotel, a blues bar, and finally to a hopeless man who lost his wife at Christmastime years ago.
Opening the story is a triumphant version of “The First Noel,” with screeching electric guitars and a backdrop of flames. The songs unfold the story, with some original music tucked into variations of classic holiday hymns and carols. “Carol of the Bells,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and many other Christmas favorites become the show’s leitmotifs.
In “Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness),” children are said to be imagining a toy shop come to life, but a music buff will hear that the dueling keyboards are playing a reworking of Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by Franz Liszt. But the flashy songs are outshone by Chloe Lowery’s “For the Sake of Our Brother,” which includes a snippet of “O Come All Ye Faithful” — earning a standing ovation during the Sunday afternoon performance.
This moment of reflection stands alone in an otherwise flashy extravaganza. Beyond the energetic light show, the new tour lifts the band members to new heights. Robotic arms, tucked into the stage until the rousing encore, lift the electric guitarist and fiddle player 50 feet above the audience. The 30-minute encore features a hodgepodge of songs from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, with even more lights and louder guitar solos.
The over-the-top production value and the heartfelt story are what bring the audience back each year. This current tour demonstrates once again the incredible showmanship of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
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