December 22, 2014 Trans-Siberian Orchestra bring magic to Long Island, NY 12-18-14
The Christmas holiday is one of the most anticipated times of the year; a period in which friends and family come together to create joyous new memories that last a lifetime. One of the most pronounced modern traditions during the season, in recent times, is the winter touring of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Now celebrating their amazing sixteenth year together in 2014, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has built a reputation as the premier Christmas extravaganza combining vivid storytelling, epic instrumentation, and massive stage production. Conceived by composer Paul O’Neill, the band has been known to split themselves into two lineups in order to cover more areas simultaneously in a short time before the end of the season. Scheduled to perform an astounding one-hundred-twenty shows in seventy-one cities over fifty-two days in 2014, Trans-Siberian Orchestra made their annual appearance at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Thursday December 18th. Marking their final one day performance before the end of the trek on January 4th, the show drew in music lovers and families ready to pump up their holiday cheer preciously one week prior Christmas day.
As the audience gathered inside the historic Long Island arena to find their seats, it was easy to see the broad range that Trans-Siberian Orchestra has achieved over time. No more considered an event strictly for Rock-n-Roll fans, observing the audience there were people from all walks of life ranging from small children with their mom’s and dad’s to elder adults and teenagers. Gazing into their touring programs, fans looked over the announced lineup for the evening’s performance that would consist of music director/keyboardist Derek Wieland, guitarists Chris Caffery and Joel Hoekstra, narrator Bryan Hicks, keyboardist Mee Eun Kim, bassist David Z, drummer Jeff Plate, violinist Roddy Chong, vocalists Russell Allen, Robin Borneman, Dustin Brayley, Rob Evan, Autumn Guzzardi, Lisa Lavie, Georgia Napolitano, Natalya Piette, and Kayla Reeves, as well as a strings section provided by some local New York Symphony Orchestra members. All in all, an amazing mix of talented accomplished musicians were ready shine as one bright star on stage together.
As the lights went down an introduction video featuring the song “Time and Distance” began on the massive screens surrounding the platform, silence overtook the crowd as they watched attentively. Moments later the keystrokes of “Winter Palace” began to raise the anticipation even higher. With the knowledge that Trans-Siberian Orchestra would be making the live debut of 1998’s The Christmas Attic album on this tour, the silence morphed into amplified whistles as the massive toy chest on stage began to open up during “The Ghost of Christmas Eve.” Inside the box arose the strings section, drummer Plates, and keyboardist Kim in their respective positions. Kicking into full orchestration of “Boughs of Holly,” guitarists Caffery and Hoekstra dazzled as they worked each side of the audience with mass excitement. Wrapped around a wonderful Christmas story brought to life by the booming voice of narrator Hicks, glow and wonder filled the eyes of children’s eyes around the crowd. It was a sense of innocence and imagination that could only be described as breathtaking. Going into the guitar-driven “The March of the Kings,” Broadway performer Evans followed singing “The World That He Sees” before the raspy vocals of Allen brought the bluesy tune “The Three Kings and I” to life. Best known as vocalist of Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob, Allen jived about the stage and sung at an elevated level as the band capped off the track with a brief jam of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
Keeping the vibe of The Christmas Attic coming, the heartwarming “Christmas Canon,” “Joy of Man,” and “An Angel’s Share” came next. Just as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra intends, the spirit of Christmas was really starting to sink into the soul of each and everyone in attendance. Turning the page, the story continued with “Find Our Way Home” and “Appalachian Snowfall” which featured snow falling onto the crowd. A remarkable addition to an already comfortable atmosphere, the snow had everyone laughing, smiling, and having a wonderful time. Bringing on more soulful singing, Canadian born vocalist Lavie was given time to shine on “Music Box Blues.” Clearly a naturally talented singer, she displayed the range of someone who not only knew how to hit notes, but when to hit them. Wrapping up The Christmas Attic seamlessly, flowing together was “The Snow Came Down,” “Dream Child (A Christmas Dream),” and Evan on lead for “Christmas in the Air.” Receiving a standing ovation, there was little doubt that the live debut of The Christmas Attic was well-received by Long Islanders.
Making formal introductions and thanking the audience for their praise, Caffery revved up the mood even more stating the band still had a bunch more to offer as they went into “Christmas Jam.” As they moved through the song Hoekstra dominated on lead with guitar chops most would dream to have. Being a member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra since 2010, Caffery affectionately calls Hoekstra his partner, as the two have great chemistry together on stage. Mixing things up with more of a Rock Opera type mood, “The Mountain” had people bopping their heads before shifting into a sobering rendition of “Someday.” Held together by Reeves, the performance was thought provoking and emotional for all bearing witness. Bringing Reeves to the spotlight once more, the vocalist sang a brand new Trans-Siberian Orchestra track titled “Night Conceives,” from their forthcoming album Letters from the Labyrinth. Rocking loud and heavy, the piece hit hard while having fans curious to hear more of the new material.
Showing they still had plenty left, Trans-Siberian Orchestra raised the bar with a magnificent light show during the performance of “Wizards in Winter” before the riff heavy “Sparks” and the mellower “This is Christmas Day.” Without losing a spectator for a moment, the band knew exactly how to devise their set list. After some more introductions and interaction with the audience, the keyboardists were able to strut their stuff some with their favorite classic pieces such as “The Phantom of The Opera.” This was the perfect prelude into the band’s signature homage to Beethoven, “Requiem (The Fifth),” which had everyone on their feet. Remaining on their feet, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” capped off the performance with unbelievable energy. Textured, bright, and full of life, the rendition sent shivers down spines as fireworks erupted and awed the audience.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra out-did themselves yet again with a show that sent their audience home filled with happiness, hope, and love. They knew exactly how to keep the night interesting with surprises at each peak that had heads turning, wondering where to look next. Kudos must be given to the production team which brings the elaborate stage show of Trans-Siberian Orchestra to life each and every night on this tour. There is a reason audiences continue to flock to arenas each Christmas season to see this event, it is simple, Trans-Siberian Orchestra harness all that is special about Christmas into a musical experience that no one should miss.