By Alex Lloyd Gross
The Trans Siberian Orchestra came to play in Philly last night, December 17, 2016. Before the night was done, they would assault every sense in the human body, donate over $13,000 to local charity and did a free meet and greet for who ever wanted to meet the band. This ensemble got their start right here in Philly, at the Tower Theater 20 years ago. Since then, members have come and gone and the band out grew the 3300 seat concert venue.
The band is so big that they play two shows in major cities. One during the afternoon and the other at night and Philly is no exception. The members of TSO all play in different bands. TSO does a tour of North America around the holidays. The concept of TSO is so much in demand that there are actually two separate bands. One tours the east and the other the west.
The show last night lasted about two hours. The stage effects were nothing short of amazing. They included snow that fell but dissipated as soon as it neared the ground, lasers and hydraulic platforms that lift the band members into the air. The band also has talented and beautiful dancers and they got to take advantage of the rising platforms as well. Then there was a catwalk that was part of the lighting truss. Band members would play to the crowd from above. There was also fire. Lots of fire.
As band members Chris Caffery and Joel Hoekstra ran into the crowd playing their guitars, the rest of the band played on stage. One minute you are watching these two on stage and the next they are running down the isles and into the first level stands. They could be playing right next to you. The show was broken down into two parts. The first, Byran Hicks, the storyteller old a story about Christmas Eve. He looked dapper on stage with a top hat and his powerful voice filled the arena. He went to acting school and it shows with his performance.
The second set, consisted of the band playing songs. There were huge video screens behind them and that brought the audience to Russia and other places, including a castle where an animated tiger escaped. To top off everything , there was music. TSO is a band, plain and simple. Under the guidance of Music Director Derek Wieland the songs transcend musical boundaries. Rock, metal, classical, even a bit of gospel, it’s all there. TSO does not get a lot of radio airplay except for “Christmas Eve Sarejevo” . The reputation of this band travels by word of mouth.
Unfortunately, the show had to end. 40 minutes after it did, fans that knew what was going on could go to the free meet and greet with the band, in the concourse. About 300 or so people showed up to say hello. Did we mention it was free? The band was signing anything. The band usually plays the Wells Fargo Center in Philly and that is it for a local show. . This year, residents in Allentown got to see them up there as well.
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