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TSO Returns with a Timeless Seasonal Occasion in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) gave a timeless performance at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on December 14, 2022 as part of their The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More tour that started in mid-November and will conclude at the end of this month.

TSO stormed into Nashville with a big, new show in 2022.

Christmas is packed with seasonal traditions. TSO - founded in 1996 - has become a part of many people's celebrations. Fans make it a point to attend these elaborate concerts on every occasion that TSO come to their region. The shows are so popular that there are two versions referred to as East and West which allows TSO to meet demand in as many markets as possible during their hectic holiday time. Although there were lots of regulars at the Bridgestone, there was also plenty in attendance who were taking in the TSO spectacle for the first time and they might wonder what TSO's story is.

When founder Paul O'Neill (1956-2017) first conceived Trans-Siberian Orchestra, his goal was as straightforward as it was incredibly ambitious. "The whole idea," he explains, "was to create a progressive rock band that would push the boundaries (of the genre) further than any group before... Way, way further." Today TSO is a rock opera of epic proportions - it's a $20 million-plus production that has played to over 100 million people in 80 plus cities, selling more than $280 million worth of tickets and presenting $11 million to charity.

Chloe Lowery, Jeff Scott Soto, Al Pitrelli, Angus Clark and Nate Amor in Nashville.

One of TSO's traditions is to donate $1.00 of each ticket sold to charity. In Nashville, TSO presented a check in the amount of $11,375.00 to the Nashville Humane Association. Paul was not only a visionary but a composer, producer and well-respected musician. He lives on though TSO which stars a changing troupe of talented artists and skilled set designers who give folks an over-the-top live performance at Christmas time.

Now, it has come to pass that we have had the privilege of seeing this spectacular production several times over the past decade and a half. But, except for a combined cast that put on Beethoven's Last Night at Radio City Music Hall in 2010 our experience until this year always included seeing the east coast crew do their thing. But, due to scheduling and Nashville's central location this year we were treated to the immense talents of TSO West.

Blas Elias keeps the Christmas themed beat alive in Nashville.

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve is a story told by a narrator and complex musical compositions. Some of the songs were classics such as "O Come All Ye Faithful > O Holy Night" that were given the TSO treatment that included flashing lights, vibrant musicianship and visuals. Mixed in with the glitz were softer moments when a lone singer took center stage with minimal accompaniment and that was almost as mesmerizing as watching musicians on moving platforms.

Near the end of the two and a half hour concert's main set, longtime TSO lead guitarist and the organization's live musical director Al Pitrelli stepped up to the microphone to greet the Nashville faithful. He pointed out the current rig and stage setting the group is taking around the country this year that looks like an out of this world triangle shaped craft that also served as a platform for some extensive soloing. The updated design along with the patented TSO lights, pyro and projections gave the performance in Music City a fresh new feel as they put their canon of time tested material on display. As the official spokesman for TSO, in his annual pre-tour meeting with the press Pitrelli was excited to build on the momentum that began with last season's grand return to the stage.

Keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij from Ukraine was a vital component to the band's big sound.

"It was so special to be back playing live last year. When you love something as much as we do and it's taken away, it made us super thankful to be back. I look forward to seeing all our 'repeat offenders' and all our new friends when we hit the road," said TSO's music director and lead guitarist Al Pitrelli. "I love all of Paul's stories, but 'The Ghosts of Christmas Eve' is one of my favorites and can't wait to unveil this incredibly amazing new show for everyone. We know some people may be having tough times, so we worked hard with the local promoters and arenas to have a low priced $29 ticket to do our part in helping out. God Bless all of you and see you in November and December when we celebrate in-person once again."

There's no doubt that TSO is a large group with multiple guitarists and vocalists all getting a share of the spotlight. But, we can't focus on every individual but we can point out a couple of special players who got our attention this time around. Keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij was an imposing figure positioned high on the backstage platform where he arguably had the best seat in the house. During band introductions it was noted that he joined the cast straight from Ukraine and the applause meter jumped a bit as many in the audience stood with his country's current plight and fight. Also in the house was a legitmate rock star in the form of powerhouse singer Jeff Scott Soto who proved he still has the rock solid chops and charisma that have powered his long and winding musical journey through the years.

Lights, lasers, pyro and action courtesy of TSO West in Music City.

The Best of TSO portion of the show alluded to more serious topics with "Not What You See" (Savatage cover) dedicated to Paul O'Neill and the "Madness of Men". Scenes of snow and travel added to the sights and sounds of "The Snow Came Down". TSO's "Requiem (The Fifth)" was beautiful and bold as was the conclusion of their well-known "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24). TSO is a rock concert with flair, flash and folks who bring a lot of energy to their performance, so it no wonder that it has become a timeless seasonal occasion for many.

SETLIST: Fate | Prometheus | The Lost Christmas Eve | O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night | Good King Joy | Christmas Dreams | Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) | Christmas Canon Rock | What Child Is This? | Music Box Blues | First Snow | Promises to Keep | This Christmas Day | Christmas Carousels / Siberian Sleigh Ride | A Mad Russian's Christmas | For the Sake of Our Brother | Christmas in the Air | Wizards in Winter | Child of the Night / A Last Illusion | Not What You See | Madness of Men | The Snow Came Down | Requiem (The Fifth) | Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24 > Reprise)

This year it was the Nashville Humane Association who received the big check.

Related Links: For more information on TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Nashville Humane Association | Trans-Siberian Orchestra Electrifies in Return to Music City | Bridgestone Arena


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