The concert started off with a small glimpse of what was to come, blue light created crescent shapes on a purple curtain over the stage. As the house lights dimmed, five people walked onto the stage for a quick announcement before the beginning of the show, not to alert the audience of any last minute changes to the performance, but to tell everyone that one dollar from every ticket sold was going to be donated to Salt Lake City’s Women’s Rescue Mission, totaling $5,779.
Then the curtain lifts. The audience watches as a castle crumbles on three large screens and a small group of men and women stand in two lines onstage. Once the castle has fallen, a guitar thrums into existence, the group of people start to sing and the screen changes to a series of pictures — an eye, a drawing of a hooded woman with pale hair reaching out to the audience and a city blanketed in snow. From there, the Trans Siberian Orchestra continued to gain intensity. Incorporating all the hallmarks of rock at its peak — supernatural imagery and over-the-top theatrics coupled with a dazzling display of pyrotechnics, lasers, moving platforms, video and seductive women dancing across the stage into their reimagined Christmas and classical songs.
Partnering with Hallmark, the first half of the performance was centered around the 1999 Christmas movie, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” written by Paul O’Neill. Featuring clips from the movie itself with live narration by Phillip Brandon — whose deep voice resonated through the audience — the Trans Siberian Orchestra played tracks from their movie with the help of the Utah Symphony’s string section.
While the entire performance was full of memorable songs and staging that defies description, there were definitely stand-out performances. Starting with the energetic Angus Clark, set apart by his Flying V Gibson guitar, who took the stage by storm from the very beginning of the performance. Andrew Ross’ voice was a beautiful blend of raspy, raw and rich during his rendition of “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” and John Brinks’ “What Child is This” was deep and almost exactly like David Bowie throughout “Labyrinth” (or his collaboration with Bing Crosby on “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”) While there was more variety with the male performers, Rosa Laricchiuta’s alto was absolutely amazing in “The Night Conceives.”
One of the best parts of the show wasn’t even the show itself. It was the hardcore rock grandma singing along and headbanging to the orchestra. This tiny woman in her button-up shirt, knit cardigan and glasses proves that the Trans Siberian Orchestra is definitely a show for everyone. Much of the audience was older, yelling themselves hoarse and throwing up rock signs throughout the Orchestra’s performance, making the entire performance a hodgepodge of happiness and celebratory fun and amazement.
Though the event is over for this year, it’s definitely one that can easily become a tradition — as proven by the adorable rock grandmas and grandpas in the audience having the time of their lives, as well as the number of teens and children in the audience in awe of the preparation and pyrotechnics of the show.