This archived article was written by: Scott Frederick, Krystle Noyes
Mozart meets Metallica with all the special effects and light show of a band like Rush best describes the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s (TSO) Christmas production. They performed at Salt Lake City’s E- Center on Nov. 13 with their spectacular laser show.
TSO’s music is a mixture of Christmas songs and classical compositions with modern hard rock heavy-on-the-electric-guitar arrangements. It was TSO has a reputation for pulling out all the stops when it comes to their special effects and light show and they did not disappoint. They had three sections of lighting truss over the front of the stage and the front part of the audience. Within these three sections were three sections that could move up and down independently.
This made for some interesting looks as the sections could be separated on the vertical axis giving a lot of depth to the stage. In addition, each section of truss could be lit internally. They were outlined with what looked like multi color neon light, and each of the main sections had a video screen.
On each side of the stage were huge low resolution video screens, and behind everything was the densest star-field curtain ever. The star-field could do something I have never seen before- the stars could shimmer.
Laser beams emanated from six separate locations, five behind the stage and one behind the (sound) mix position. With six-scan heads and several static mirrors, the arena filled with green lasers from the sides and multi-colored beams from back center stage.
Also along the back line of the stage were several different kinds of pyro effects. They had orange fire-balls, roman candle-type effects and columns of fire that could change color, all syncopated with the music.
At one point in the show, snow fell over the front half of the arena. The effect was simple and yet had a powerful emotional impact … transporting me back to the snow-covered Christmas’ of my youth.
The first half of the show was a narrator relating a Christmas story punctuated with classical and traditional Christmas songs. I wasn’t sure what to think of this at first, but the narrator had such a hypnotic voice and conveyed the Christmas message in such a powerful way that I was soon won over.
The second half of the show was a combination of classical music and traditional “December” music like Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and not so traditional Christmas or winter music like Flight of the Bumble Bee and a dueling piano
piece which included the song Charlie Brown.
The songs played throughout the show were a blend of Christmas, classical and metal music. It was Christmas songs, redone, or should I say added to, in a way that can only be described as something the Trans Siberian Orchestra could do. From fresh arrangements of the Nutcracker, excerpts from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, (with the female soloist on a platform behind the sound mixer) to a heavy metal version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, to traditional Christmas favorites and 30 seconds of Led Zeppelins’ Kashmir thrown in for good measure, TSO rocked the E-Center.
This was a rock show disguised as a Christmas show. The theme definitely was Christmas but it was much more than that. It was the traditional Christmas songs you hear played year after year, but the arrangements were fresh and exciting breathing new life into songs we have heard a million times.
The show was powerful on many levels. From an emotional Christmas story told through the eyes of an angel visiting Earth … to energized classical pieces, to technical light and pyro wizardry … the show had it all. The Trans Siberian Orchestra puts on one hell of a show that kept the audience entertained from the opening number to the finale.