Fire. Sparks. Musicians walking along the aisles on the venue’s floor seating area playing their instruments.
The Huntington Center in downtown Toledo was lit Friday as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra started the Christmas month off with a bang.
A nearly sold-out 3:30 p.m. performance at the venue saw about 20 of the 40 musicians of the orchestra performing 1999’s The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve in its entirety, followed by a sold-out second performance at the Huntington Center at 8 p.m., which holds no more than 8,000 people.
The other 20 musicians of the orchestra were busy performing two separate shows on the other end of the country in Sacramento on the same day as its Toledo concert. It’s not uncommon for the orchestra to divide itself during the tour; it’s just the way the band does business, and it’s exactly how it’s able to perform 120 concerts in a six-week tour.
VIDEO: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
In November, music director and keyboardist Derek Wieland told The Blade the orchestra’s founder and music mastermind Paul O’Neill had such a profound gift as a human being. O’Neill, the founder and music genius behind the Trans-Siberian Orchestra unexpectedly passed away in April. The band’s touring bassist David Zablidowksy, also known as Dave Z, also died in July when an RV belonging to his band Adrenaline Mob was struck by a tractor trailer.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at the Huntington Center on December 1, 2017.
This year’s tour was in honor of the two musicians.
“He was one of these very unusual people who was able to connect so intimately with so many people,” Wieland said. “He left behind hundreds and thousands of very close friends. People were very touched by his life, not just from this incredible band and music and story that he created, which people are uplifted by and are moved by, but he also touched people just as an unusual person who was so kind.”
Two large projector screens helped tell the tale of the orchestra’s 1999 story, which is about a runaway who breaks into an abandoned theater and is discovered by the building’s caretaker who then uses the theater’s ghosts to help the person on Christmas Eve.
The first 90 minutes of the 3:30 p.m. show included The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve in its entirety, as storyteller Bryan Hicks narrated during each song followed by songs to continue the story like “Good King Joy” and “What Child Is This?” A guitarist and violinist were seen on rising platforms at points during the set which eventually hovered above the floor seating and sparks and fire flashed at the sides of singers and violinists.
There’s no question a major aspect of the show came from stage production. Fake snow fell from the ceiling during the orchestra's instrumental song “First Snow” and bright, flashing lights echoed off each other like lasers.
And this was all during the orchestra’s first half of its set. It continued the second half by performing old and new songs like 2004’s “Siberian Sleigh Ride” and “Just Another Night In New York City.”
The orchestra’s phenomenal performance overpowered the difficulty of getting into the venue. Long lines wrapped a couple of times around the Huntington Center of people waiting to get in, forcing many to miss the first 15 minutes of the concert. Yet, those still trying to find their seat once inside the venue could still catch the first song of the orchestra’s story “O Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night” which started about 20 minutes after the band’s set 3:30 p.m. time.
Despite the delayed access into the venue, which a few people in line said “I hope we don’t miss the first song” and “I’ve never seen the line this long before,” the Trans-Siberian Orchestra pulled off another powerful show in the Glass City, and the band kept the Christmas tradition alive.
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