The first sign of the holiday season musically is Trans-Siberian Orchestra being advertised by Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
On Saturday, December 2nd at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, I had the honor of covering this beautiful extravaganza, Hallmark Channel Presents Trans – Siberian Orchestra The Ghost of Christmas Eve… The Best of TSO and More.
This being the first time seeing this show, I was in for a treat. On the schedule were two shows, the Matinee show at 3:30 pm which I was covering and the evening show at 7:30. Arriving at 2:00 PM for my check-in time, there were lines wrapping around the arena, overhearing some of the fans, this was their first time and others this was an annual event.
The show was split up into three parts. Opening the first segment with Time and Distance (The Dash) from Letters from the Labyrinth, followed by the instrumental Winters Palace from Dreams of Fireflies, rounding out the introduction with The Lost Christmas Eve from the song titled album. Giving the audience a glimpse of what to come, huge LED screens all the way across the back of the stage that tells a story, lasers, fire, rising platforms, orchestra, even glitter snow falling from above.
The second segment was the “Ghost of Christmas Eve” that was a made for TV movie in 1999. The storyline is about a runaway who takes refuge in an abandoned theatre on Christmas Eve and experiences the musical performances as ghostly visions from the theatre’s past. Narrated by the Storyteller Phillip Brandon, the story unfolds on the screens, to the ten-song segment. Opening with O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night, also included fan favorite Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (12/24) which was TSO’s first song to chart in 1996, ending this segment and probably my favorite our very own Southern California Rock Star with the most amazing voice, Jeff Scott Soto singing This Christmas Day.
Onto the final segment of the show, “The Best of TSO”. Fifteen songs from all of TSO’s discography. Songs included were Siberian Sleigh Ride off Lost Christmas Eve, A Mad Russian’s Christmas off Christmas Eve and Other Stories, Wizard In Winter off Tales of Winter, Madness of Men from the album Letters From the Labyrinth to name a few.
As the LED screens change to a single flickering candle, TSO took a moment as guitarist Al Pitelli gave a speech about TSO founder Paul O’Neill who passed away earlier in the year, “Celebrating his unwavering hope for humanity – he used to say individually we’re all finite, collective we’re infinite”. Included in our hearts and memory another phenomenal artist, TSO bassist David Zablidowsky who was tragically killed on tour with Adrenaline Mob. Dedicating the song, The Safest Way Into Tomorrow from the album Night Castle, sung by vocalist Dino Jelusic, a beautiful moment as I struggled to keep my composure, feeling the tears well up in my eyes.
Another song that stood out for me, probably due to my fascination with Dragons, was the instrumental song The Mountain from the album Night Castle, as you see this big dragon getting antsy on the screen, blowing his flame setting the stage on fire, guitarist Angus Clark rises above the stage ripping a guitar solo, dragons flying faster, music going faster, there is lightning enough flame to warm the whole arena, dramatic and suspenseful. Sorry, I got a little carried away there…. I loved it!
Keeping the momentum going with Find Our Way Home from Christmas Attic, followed by Requiem (The Fifth) off Beethoven’s Last Night, ending this phenomenal show with Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Reprise) a Savatage cover, to a well-deserved standing ovation.
Trans–Siberian Orchestra The Ghost of Christmas Eve is a must see this holiday season, it warms your soul, and gives you a feeling of peace. Everything I have seen in ads or videos doesn’t do this show justice, see it once and you’re hooked. Outstanding musicianship, the female vocalist, the artists, the orchestra the story is beautiful.
All photos by Tammy Greene
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