Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Ghosts of Christmas Eve delightfully beyond powerful

Featured image: Our stage view for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Ghosts of Christmas Eve show at the Moda Center in Portland on December 30, 2016. (photo by Cheryl Landes)

Every time I’ve heard the big, bold holiday sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on the radio, I’d imagine it performing in a huge cathedral with perfect acoustics. The music and vocals are grand, larger than life – the perfect mix for an ultimate Christmas celebration.

Then I saw TSO’s show live for the first time at the Moda Center in Portland three weeks ago. I’ve seen dozens of live concerts over the years, and none push, then cross, the musical boundaries more than TSO’s combination of the rock, metal, and classical genres.

The 2016 show, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, was in two parts. The first brought TSO’s annual PBS holiday special to life. It’s the story of a girl who ran away from home and settled in an abandoned theater, where with the help of a caretaker, discovers the true meaning of Christmas through the music of TSO and a ticket home. A live narrator on stage told the entire story in rhyme, backed with video clips of the story and live renditions of every track from The Ghosts of Christmas Eve album.

The second part featured a combination of TSO’s hits and new material, accompanied by colorful lasers endlessly waving up and down and across the arena. Lights pulsated and flames shot skyward in perfect time with each beat. Platforms with the featured musicians rose from stage, and often the flutist and the lead guitar player hopped aboard another platform that rose even higher above the audience on the ground level.

My companions and I sat three rows below the box seats, so we literally had a bird’s-eye view of the show. For most concerts, this would be too far away, but for TSO’s production, our seats were perfect. (See the featured picture for our perspective of the stage.) We could see everything as it happened and immerse ourselves in the light show. I believe that if we watched from a lower level, we wouldn’t have enjoyed the full experience.

The 2.5 hours flew, and when we left, we noticed everyone smiling and praising the show. So were we. Wow doesn’t begin to describe our experience.

If you haven’t seen TSO live yet, go. Mark a reminder on your calendar now to buy tickets when sales start this fall. You won’t regret it.

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