Trans-Siberian Orchestra
KeyArena, Seattle, WA

The holidays are always a time for celebrating tradition and family. They’re also a great time to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra as they roll through town for their annual celebratory show, which this year fell on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Starting at Thanksgiving up until New Years it is usually a great time to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra as they roll through the fall timeframe.

If you have never seen or heard of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) you honestly have been missing out. There are two camps—East and West Coast groups—that tour only from November to December.  They combine the best of both rock and classical music into an audible and visual spectacle. Each year, TSO’s “Ghosts Of Christmas Eve” shows are more elaborate than before and you’ll see a broad, multi-generational mix of young and old, suits and rockers, in attendance.

There are the usual suspects that partake in the ensemble cast of the West Coast troupe and they perform a 3 pm matinee as well as an 8 pm show at Seattle’s KeyArena. This is quite a feat and as bandleader Al Pitrelli introduces everyone he says, “Respect to the crew. 30 days to build the initial set up of the stage, and then 7.5hrs and 13 Hail Mary’s to get it done by 3 pm. Each day! Not an easy feat.”

The stage is elaborate with multiple risers that expand and contract. Lighting and the trusses they are on take on a life of their own and become another character in the play being presented. Pyrotechnics and lasers combine with elaborate computer animation and live-action video on giant screens to bring the Holiday story to life. It is truly a sight to behold each year.

The show follows a storyline and has a band backing up multiple singers who take a song or two each throughout the performance, with the ensemble of singers backing up the current soloist. There is also a narrator that takes us through the Christmas miracle, and a subsequent video that plays along with the musicians. It is definitely a special show that has made TSO one of the top-ten selling bands/tours each year.

This year there was also a special dedication as the TSO family has lost two members. Founder/creator/producer, composer, and lyricist Paul O’Neill passed away in April 2017, and Bassist David Z in July. Pitrelli takes a moment to pay respects to the two musicians, a heartfelt moment felt throughout the arena as the loss is a profound one. The show must go on, however, and this is the best way to continue the legacy and honor of what began some 24 years ago.

“There is no better way than to spend a Saturday night at KeyArena with all the new fans and the repeat offenders,” Pitrelli says. “We also would like to pay our respects to the men and women in the United States armed forces.”

TSO is a one-of-a-kind show that really has something for everyone. Young and old alike fill the arena nightly and as you look around the packed venue, one can’t help but get into the Holiday spirit.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Set List
Time and Distance
Winter Palace
Lost Christmas Eve
Oh Holy Night
Good King Joy
Christmas Dreams
Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12-24)
Canon Rock
What Child Is This
Music Box Blues
First Snow
Promises To Keep
This Christmas Day
Singer Intros
Siberian Sleigh Ride/Angel’s Share
Christmas Nights In Blue
Mad Russian
For Sake of Our Brother
Madness Of Men
Carmina Burana
Band Intros
The Safest Way Into Tomorrow
Night Conceives
Find Our Way Home
Requiem into Christmas Eve (Reprise)

Review and photos by Neil Lim Sang

Trans-Siberian Orchestra