TSO Show Review – Amway Center, Orlando
Trans Siberian Orchestra brought their popular Christmas show to Orlando’s Amway Center for two weekend shows. As their loyal fans have come to expect, they delivered a multi-sensory extravaganza that highlighted why this talented troupe are metamorphosing into an annual “can’t miss” event for rock fans of all ages.
The 10,000 fans in attendance at the Saturday afternoon show, witnessed all of the majesty of a TSO performance. We saw amazing lasers, state of the art pyrotechnics, choreographed performances and adept storytelling… oh yeah, and their music was kind of special, too.
For this performance, the band focused almost exclusively on their biggest Christmas hits, including a passionate live performance of The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. The second half of the show had additional Christmas tracks interspersed with a handful of heavier, darker tracks from their robust catalog, before they closed the show with an incendiary finale.
In a generous move, the band delayed the start of their show by 20 minutes to allow folks stuck in traffic to get into their seats before the performance. Traffic was complicated by The Cure Bowl taking place just down the street at roughly the same time, with many folks parking near the Amway Center for that event, as well. Sunrail offered up special service for the shows, and would have been the ideal way to get in and out of the city. I’ll remember that for next year…
A TSO tradition is to donate $1 from each ticket sold to a local charity and for this show, that meant $10,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank. They passed over the check during a quick dedication and then dropped the curtain for 140 minutes of top-notch entertainment.
The show started with full sensory video that had the fans journeying into a dark library, where a book opened up as the band exploded into action, beginning our voyage with the heavy song “Who I Am.” We were immediately introduced to the ten-piece choir, eight-piece string section and seven permanent band members, and the show was on. By the time the next tune, “March of the Kings,” was done we were immersed in a show where band members were carried high on movable, rising stages as they delivered the first of many solos.
From there, they slid nicely into their re-creation of their theatric reenactment of The Ghosts of Christmas Eve special. The journey started with a young girl listening to an older black man tell a special Christmas story as snow wafted down from the rafters onto the stage and the crowd. This segment of the show was threaded together by our narrator for the evening who guided us through a dozen or so Christmas-themed songs including the band’s iconic “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24).”
It was an hour of pristine performances, including a sweet guitar solo during “O Holy Night.” We heard sixty minutes of exquisite music, seamlessly alternating between softer moments and raucous rock opuses. Jeff Scott had a few opportunities to spotlight his dynamic, soulful voice. We also heard a handful of other lead vocalists and they all delivered in their unique styles, particularly April Berry and Chloe Lowery who hit spectacular notes.
For many, the performance of The Ghosts of Christmas Eve show was the highlight of the day. But there was much more in store.
The second half of the show was definitely on the harder side of the spectrum. Angus Young on guitar and violinist Asha Mevlana dominated the last half of the set, trading off solos throughout. They raced around the stage, over the catwalks and through the crowd. It wasn’t for everyone, though, as I noticed a few folks exiting the venue after the Christmas focus wrapped.
Two of the most impressive songs took place in this latter portion of the show. “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” featured ominous marching toy soldiers on videos covering the risers and behind the stage as the music went from delicate to destructive. The pyrotechnics and flames on the stage were perfectly synchronized, as well.
That song was followed by a quiet moment where TSO originator Paul O’Neill took the stage with an acoustic guitar and offered up a sweet duet with Ashley Hollister. Their tender rendition of “Not the Same” had cell phones lighting up the arena like fireflies as they delivered four minutes of sweet perfection. It was a special moment for those in attendance, as the song doesn’t often make its way onto setlists.
After two plus hours of entertainment, the band closed with a flourish. They slid into the haunting “Requiem (The Fifth)” among thunderous sound effects and blew the doors off with a song the featured a nod to Beethoven, Gregorian chants, sheets of lasers, dancing pyrotechnics and raging rock ‘n roll. From there it was a seamless transition into the extended finale, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) Reprise” which saw band members flying around the arena as every light in the arena danced in synchronization. Stellar. And, the perfect end to a memorable night of music from a band who has perfected the rock ‘n roll Christmas extravaganza.
The Amway Center is the perfect set-up for TSO. It’s a state of the art venue, with great sound and all of the modern conveniences. The TSO performance includes 25 musicians, over 100 stagehands, and more truck drivers than you can imagine. The production alone is worth seeing, even if you don’t love the band’s creative “classic” approach to rock music.
I also have to throw some kudos to TSO for the efforts they put into bonding with their fans. During the entire twenty minute delay (and before), I watched creator Paul O’Neill travel through the crowd, gifting fans, particularly young ones, with t-shirts, programs and other goodies. It’s something you never see anywhere else, and just one of many reasons this group has earned my respect.
At the end of the day, though, nothing works without great music, and for Trans-Siberian Orchestra, these talented musicians definitely delivered on that commitment and I’ll be back to see them again next year.
See a handful of additional photos from the show here: TSO at Amway Center
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