As the snowflakes fell upon the crowd from the rafters screaming electric guitars mixed with a chorus of stringed instruments helped fill Energy Solutions Arena with the feeling of Christmas on Wednesday night.
The high-energy ultra-lengthy 2 ½ hour Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s (TSO) premiere showing of The Lost Christmas Eve kicked off in Salt Lake City with plumes of fire and lasers and crowd members smiling at each other as they mouthed the words "it’s real snow" as the white substance hit their skin and slowly melted away.
About six main progressive rock band members came out on stage blasting "Winter Palace" as a giant clock swung above them with flames and at times fireworks. The Christmas-based show was complete with an eight-piece local Salt Lake orchestra and narration about a man’s journey to find the Christmas spirit in between songs.
Frontman Al Pitrelli — former guitarist for Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and Megademegath — shredded out a guitar solo for "Faith Noel" as the show began its crescendo hitting some of its most famous hits along the way. There was enough pyrotechnics and flashing lasers to elicit a seizure warning with "Wizards in Winter" a song typically seen on viral YouTube videos of blinking house Christmas lights timed perfectly to the music.
The show was just as perfectly timed as those house Christmas lights, even down to a trio of distracting back up dancers banging their head so hard to the beat I’m sure they needed a chiropractor or at least some ibuprofen after the show.
Throughout the show the mood of the music softened at times, but never relented from a full-out dramatic and emotionally charged performance from the musicians appropriate for all ages.
If you thought the TSO was only instrumental, think again. The mastermind, Paul O’Neill — who has helped manage and produce bands like Aerosmith and AC/DC and started the 1970s progressive rock band Slowburn — along with Jon Oliva of Savatage put together a show with about three rotating vocalists to sing songs including "The Lost Christmas Eve."
The obtuse storyline was presented by the overly dramatic narrator who awkwardly sat on a stool on stage awaiting his next speaking part while the band rocked around him. The story seemed confusing, at times make literal references to Christ and the true meaning of Christmas while other times being metaphorical. The final line,borrowed from "Christmas Canon Rock" made the most sense, "it is never too late to change any life’s ending." Reminding everyone to have open their heart.
If you felt like you were cheating on Thanksgiving by listening to Christmas music early, the band took a break from its Christmas set to play some Beethoven and other non-seasonal hits.
At 2½ hours, it was a little bit long obviously for a few who trickled out a little early. I would have come back wanting more if the show was half the length. The performance was well rehearsed, performed and left the crowd with full of guitar solos to kick off to Christmas as the band said farewell by stating "Have a Happy Thanksgiving!"
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