Spectacles don't get much bigger or more bombastic than a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas show.
At the first of two concerts Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, more than 15,000 fans got their holidays — as well as eardrums and eyeballs — ringing with headbanging hard rock, a nonstop light show, multihued lasers, fiery pyrotechnics, swirling smoke effects and more.
The matinee show opened with simulated snowfall that had my 6-year-old son and 2 ½-year-old daughter staring in wide-eyed wonder as they tried to grasp the floating flakes and closed with a festive fireworks display that sent showers of golden sparks arching high above the massive stage.
For my family — my husband and 18-year-old son also took in the all-ages show — it was our first experience with the popular touring act. While some moments were more dazzling than others, the concert conjured up enough special effects wizardry, scorching guitar solos and soaring strings to make our afternoon merry and bright.
Instead of retelling “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” the rock opera based on the band's 1996 debut album, Trans-Siberian Orchestra this season is making “The Lost Christmas Eve” the centerpiece of its yuletide tour, which is so successful it boasts two casts simultaneously crisscrossing the country.
The first two-thirds of the concert is devoted to the touching but overly long rock opera, introduced in 2004 with the third LP of the band's Christmas trilogy. With his deep, warm voice, narrator Phillip Brandon guided the audience through the tale of an angel dispatched to New York City, where the heavenly being encounters a wealthy banker who has become a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge. Under the angel's watchful eye, the misanthrope joyfully reunites with the baby boy he abandoned four decades ago.
As promised, Trans-Siberian Orchestra packs plenty of vocal power: Dustin Brayley, Nathan James and former Journey man Jeff Scott Soto gave great performances, but Chloe Lowery and her bevy of female backup singers stole the show with their beautiful belting of the TSO favorite “Christmas Canon Rock.”