TSO impresses with rocking Christmas performance

by MATT MOLINAR//Opinion Editor

While most people anticipate being serenaded with carols during the holiday season, those who are familiar with the Trans Siberian Orchestra are excited to be blown away by a style that meshes Christmas-style music with hard rock.

TSO brought the “Ghosts of Christmas Eve” Tour to United Supermarket Arena in Lubbock on Nov. 28.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the artistry of the TSO. In 1996, the year I was born, the TSO was was founded by Paul O’Neill. O’Neill has managed and produced for Aerosmith, AC/DC, Joan Jett and many other rock performers. O’Neill, along with Chris Caffery and Jon Olivia, have been a part of the TSO since the beginning. I can honestly say that I have never been more impressed with any guitarists like I have been with TSO.

The concert began with choral members of the TSO singing a very soft, somber melody that introduces the members of the rock orchestra. The opening turns into an energetic, hard-core rock symphony.

As the event progressed, a man dressed in red with a jolly personality tells a story of the ghosts of Christmas eve. Phillip Brandon served as the storyteller.

The song, “Christmas Canon,” filled the entire arena with a heavy Christmas spirit. Throughout the song, I was tempted to start waving my cellphone flashlight in the air. The lighting mechanics that begin with the first downbeat were amazing. With the fog machines running, the air was filled with smoke, making the lights look like lasers, which makes the presentation absolutely breathtaking. When more fast-paced songs were performed, the lights became much brighter and would alternate quickly, making for a seizure hazard, as well as an amazing light show.

Mevlana is best known for her electric seven-string violin. During their performance of “Wizards in Winter,” Mevlana left audience members with dropped jaws as she rips through the arpeggios. Toward the end, her bow began to collapse as more and more hairs broke. However, Mevlana continued for another half hour with the same bow, hairs falling left and right.

Some of the music on the setlist featured many of the choral members of the TSO.

Andrew Ross, April Berry, Autumn Guzzardi, Ava Davis, Bart Shatto, Bryan Hicks, Chloe Lowery, Dustin Brayley, Gabriela Guncikova, Georgia Napalitano, Jeff Scott, Jodi Katz, John Brink, Kayla Reeves, Lisa Lavie, Natalya Rose Piette, Robin Borneman, and Russell Allen were all vocal contributors during the show. Vocalists Soto and Ross both impressed me with their rough, bluesy voices. I almost forgot that the theme of the performance was related to Christmas.

Another impressive element that added to the concert energy was the use of fire with the many visuals. The pyrotechnics of the show were laid out across the stage, and even in the center of the audience, behind where I was sitting, causing the arena to become hot. I honestly felt like I was at a Metallica concert, even though I have never been to one.

Since TSO had not performed in Lubbock for a couple of years, I anticipated a magical, memorable performance to leave me excited about the holiday season. The performance did not let me down, and I’m already anticipating the next tour.

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