There is no better way for listening to and enjoying Christmas music than with a heavy metal twist. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, consisting of rockers and metalheads from many different bands, brought Christmas cheer with an unconventional sound to Dallas for the holidays.
The excitement began to build as we reached the massive American Airlines Center and saw the growing line to enter the venue about an hour before the show. We were set up to get in through the media entrance and able to get through and set up quickly. As we were being shown to our seats, the excitement boiled over as we kept strolling closer and closer to the front until we were at our seats, 5 ROWS FROM THE STAGE!!
The lights dimmed, the curtains raised, and the drum platform descended as the crowd eagerly waited for the show to begin. First the guitars, of which there were 3, played a heavy distorted rock tone, then the chorus of singers joined in and soon after the drums, played by Blas Elias, began to beat loudly. Every added element simply amped up the crowd more. Besides being incredible musicians, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA shows are known for their theatrical production as well. It is an enormous experience that takes you out of this world.
The spastic lights and lasers along with the pyrotechnics that are so hot you can feel them from where we sat all combined to create one hell of a show. Plus, to make songs about snow more magical, they had foam falling from above to simulate snow. Being in Texas, snow is something that is very rare, so when it does happen, especially around Christmas, it is much more mystical and special. And since this was foam inside of a building and not the real deal, it also lacks the worry of people here not being able to drive in it.
After the first three songs they began The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, narrated by wonderful storyteller Phillip Brandon. During a few of the songs they raised three platforms up and down with a band member or two on each, and some of the time had fire spewing from the sides of the platforms. They also had a catwalk that they would lower for the band members on the side platforms to walk across over the crowd. They concluded the story with “This Christmas Day” then took a break to introduce some of the band.
One incredible fact they also mentioned was that they set up the entire stage production that morning in 6 hours with 100 men and 18 tractor trailers. Insane! At this point I figured the show was about over, especially since they had already played their biggest hit “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” but I was happily wrong and thoroughly surprised by what came next.
At one point they seemed to be jamming and having fun, playing the intro to METALLICA’S “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a heavy metal version of “Requiem (The Fifth)” and other songs that weren’t necessarily for Christmas. Despite it being what they are best known for, TSO has done albums that have nothing to do with the holidays. It really surprised me to see them play some of those that night, but I was in no way complaining. They also did many more songs that were not covered in their previous story, including “A Mad Russian’s Christmas.”
A bittersweet moment happened when they paid tribute to founding member Paul O’Neill who tragically passed away on April 5, 2017. They concluded by playing “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” as a way to bring it all back full circle and give the fans the song they likely most enjoy hearing and seeing. Overall this performance was absolutely incredible. I was awestruck for the entire show!
From the ridiculously fantastic lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics, to the extraordinary musicianship of everyone on stage, from the vocalists to the guitarists, the amazing Asha Mevlana on the electric violin, Blas Elias on the huge drum kit, bassist John Lee Middleton, and the Texas chapter of TSO, this was a sight and sound extravaganza.
It may have been even more spectacular being that it was also my first time seeing the band, and it definitely will not be my last. If I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I was absolutely blown away by their show. Also, fun fact: sitting in front of us was Blas Elias’ cousins and father, who I got to talking with and they introduced me to him after the show. He is definitely one of the most fun drummers to watch perform.
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA is a band worth seeing at least once, though when you do, you’ll probably become addicted. A headbanging Christmas to All, and to All a Goodnight…
LIVE IMAGES: ARDENT OWL MEDIA
LIVE WORDS: JESSICA KUYAWA