Trans-Siberian Orchestra Electrifies Quicken Loans Arena

Concert Review

Since their first shows in 1999, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a holiday behemoth. TSO have played more than 1,600 shows and sold more than ten million records. Donating one dollar from every ticket sold to local charities, they have given more than 11 million dollars to charities across the country. Before the start of the first of two shows held yesterday at Quicken Loans Arena, guitarist Chris Caffery and WNCX morning host Slats presented a check for $28,000 to the St. Augustine Hunger Center.

The 2014 tour is their most elaborate, dynamic and dazzling show to date. It’s jam packed with pyro (often perfectly synched to the music) lasers, multiple video screens and lights — thousands of lights. Over a dozen lighting rigs moved around the stage. Moving platforms, both on the stage and at the very back of the venue, elevated band members high and far out into the audience. The most brilliant effect was an actual snow-making machine! Yes, it snowed in Quicken Loans Arena three times during the more than two and a half hour extravaganza.

A giant trunk was the centerpiece of the stage, with the inside of the lid utilized as a giant video screen. The drummer, one keyboardist and string section rose out of the trunk to sit high above the stage.

Combining progressive and symphonic rock with classic Christmas anthems, interspersed with enough original arrangements to make them their own, TSO transformed crusty and boring holiday tunes into proggy, symphonic, charismatic masterpieces. The virtuosity of this incredible band is second to none. Around 20 musicians contributed to this prodigious production, each having his or her own unique moments in the spotlight.

Guitarists Chris Caffery and Joel Hoekstra and violinist Roddy Chong dominated the show. With smiles permanently planted on their faces, they charged about the stage with a frantic but lovable eloquence. Their precision and power was electrifying. Storyteller Bryan Hicks defined emotion and power. Drummer Jeff Plate was a percussive monster, known for his work with Metal Church and Savatage.

After playing The Christmas Attic in its entirety for the very first time, the band then launched into a set of varied favorites, even incorporating a touch of Led Zeppelinʼs “Kashmir” into “The Three Kings And I.” Individual song highlights are hard to distinguish, as every song was exceptional. No filler here.

The incredible dynamics, emotion and sheer power of the presentation reached its climax with the ending track “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” The band then went above and beyond, concluding with a rousing version of Ian Hunterʼs “Cleveland Rocks” that had the crowd on its feet, singing in allegiance.

With each and every tour, TSO manages to outdo previous efforts. Bringing the joy of the holidays to young and old, the show at Quicken Loans Arena delighted the sold out crowd and proved the bar can always be elevated.

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