Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeIn a show that was as fascinating visually as it was sonically, Trans Siberian Orchestra have carved out a unique niche with their infectious holiday show. Despite their post-Christmas arrival in Milwaukee, the long narrative, added in pieces to the first set, still managed to touch on the season-less longing for a story of hope. As singers rotated in amongst grandiose rock takes of "An Angel Came Down," "The Prince of Peace" and other holiday staples, the show featured the Milwaukee Symphony Strings backing the blazing guitars of band leader Al Pitarelli and co-lead guitarist Angus Clark as well as the fiery keys of Jane Mangini and Carmine Giglio.
As the Christmas feeling began to wear a bit thin, the second half of the show gave the egg nog the much-needed shot of non-holiday music with the powerful and haunting "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff and the speedy wanderings of "Flight of the Bumbelbee" by Rimsky-Korsakov. Keeping things interesting, a keyboard duel broke out with Mangini and Giglio throwing down sections of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, "Linus and Lucy," and Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody," to name a few.
While other bits of stage humor and showmanship were mixed in throughout the night, the most memorable aside to the music was the lights. While fake snow floated down through streams of lasers, a giant moveable light rack pulsed with the show, and a barrage of pyro bursts warmed up the crowd before heading back out into the cold. Normally steeped in tradition, TSO created a holiday show that nods to the past and searches out for a new future.
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