The iconic “arena-rock juggernaut,” the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) is bringing their holiday rock concert, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” to the Tacoma Dome on Sunday, Nov. 25 for a 3 p.m. show. The full show title is “Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents The Ghosts of Christmas Eve; The Best of TSO and More.” It is sponsored by the Hallmark Channel.
TSO is an American rock orchestra founded in 1996 by producer, composer and lyricist Paul O’Neill, who brought together Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (both members of Savatage) and keyboardist and producer Robert Kinkel to form the core of the group. The orchestra’s musical style incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic and progressive elements into hard rock and heavy metal. The orchestra is most famous for their Christmas-themed series of rock operas (“Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” “The Christmas Attic,” and “The Lost Christmas Eve”), for which they do an annual winter tour. They have released two albums that are not based around holiday themes (“Beethoven’s Last Night” and “Night Castle”), but their “Christmas trilogy” remains their best-known work. They are also known for their charity work and their elaborate concerts, which are complete with a full orchestra, a massive light show, lasers, dozens of pyrotechnics, moving trusses, video screens and other effects that are synchronized to the actual music. TSO has sold more than 10 million concert tickets and more than 10 million albums.
Both Billboard Magazine and Pollstar have ranked them as one of the top 10 ticket-selling bands in the first decade of the new millennium. Their path to success was unusual in that TSO is the first major rock band to go straight to theaters and arenas, having never played at a club, never having an opening act and never being an opening act. O’Neill died in 2017.
Prior to the foundation of TSO, O’Neill managed and produced rock bands including Aerosmith, Humble Pie, AC/DC, Joan Jett, and Scorpions. He took his first steps into rock music in the 1970s when he started the progressive rock band Slowburn, for whom he was the lyricist and co-composer. What was intended to be the band’s debut album was recorded at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios.
Over the years, O’Neill continued to work as a writer, producer, manager and concert promoter. In 1996, he accepted Atlantic Records’ offer to start his own band. By blending classical and rock music inspired by the artists that O’Neill idolized (bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Queen, Yes, The Who and Pink Floyd; as well as hard rock bands, such as Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin), O’Neill hit upon a formula for success. He stated that he originally wanted to do six rock operas, a trilogy of Christmas extravaganzas and some regular albums.
When asked about the naming of the venture, O’Neil cited his travels in Russia, back in the 1980s, as the Cold War was coming to a close. “If anyone has ever seen Siberia,” he said, “they know that it is incredibly beautiful but incredibly harsh and unforgiving as well. The one thing that everyone who lives there has in common is the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs across Siberia in relative safety. Life, too, can be incredibly beautiful but also incredibly harsh and unforgiving, and the one thing that we all have in common that runs through life in relative safety is music.”
Despite O’Neill’s death last year, the organization announced that they would continue with their Christmas-themed touring. “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” story, which they had performed in 2015, 2016 and 2017, was announced as their story once again for the 2018 tour.
In “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” the songs are presented in such a way as to form a storyline about a runaway who takes refuge in an abandoned theatre on Christmas Eve, and experiences the musical performances as ghostly visions from the theatre’s past. The evening will feature several dozen performers, great lighting, stage and set effects and mind blowing music.
For information and tickets, visit www.trans-siberian.com/index/home.