With the crowd still making its way into the venue for their 3pm matinee performance, the day’s festivities kicked off at about quarter past the hour to a thunderous roar of applause at the packed arena.
An impressive line-up of returning vocalists including Savatage’s Zak Stevens, Russell Allen, John Brink, Robin Borneman, Caleb Johnson, Erika Jerry, Gabbie Rae, Kayla Reeves, Georgia Napolitano, Natalya Rose Piette, and a local strings ensemble, joined the core band featuring Chris Caffery and Joel Hoekstra on guitar, Tony Dickinson on bass, Jeff Plate on drums, Derek Wieland and Mee Eun Kim on Keyboards, and Roddy Chong on violin for this ‘East’ performance as their counterparts performed in Orlando, Florida.
Keeping the crowd of all ages drawn in to the story of a child’s encounter with the ‘caretaker of forgotten dreams’ was narrator Bryan Hicks. The evening included all of our favorites from Christmas Eve and Other Stories like the instrumental “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” and “Christmas Dreams,” delivered by vocalist Russell Allen, which transitioned into the first rendition of the band’s most recognizable instrumental “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”
Also included were songs from Beethoven’s Last Night like “Fate” and the riveting “Requiem (The Fifth),” as well as a few surprises, such as the introduction of the instrumental “Christmas Carousels/Siberian Sleigh Ride.”
A TSO show would not be complete without a little sprinkling of Savatage history. Personally, we’d always like to hear more, especially with Zak Stevens present… but there were no complaints from the crowd as Kayla Reeves was silhouetted against a brightly lit moon to deliver an emotional cover of “If I Go Away” from Savatage’s Streets: A Rock Opera album. In fact, the arena lit up with cell phone lights in response to the ballad.
Before concluding the show, fans were treated to a reprise of “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” which was overshadowed by perhaps the most electric display of lights and pyro we’ve ever seen (you’ve outdone yourself Bryan Hartley), a breathtaking moment to say the least. Is it too soon to already be looking forward to next year?
For more details on tour dates and ticket sales, visit www.trans-siberian.com. The ensemble’s remaining December dates are as follows:
12/18/2022 Philadelphia PA Wells Fargo Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/18/2022 Tampa FL Amalie Arena 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
12/21/2022 Hershey PA Giant Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/21/2022 Chicago IL Allstate Arena 3:00 PM & 8:00 PM
12/22/2022 Buffalo NY KeyBank Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/22/2022 Milwaukee WI Fiserv Forum 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/23/2022 Columbus OH Nationwide Arena 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/23/2022 St Paul MN Xcel Energy Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/26/2022 Washington DC Capital One Arena 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/26/2022 Kansas City MO T-Mobile Center 3:00 PM & 8:00 PM
12/27/2022 Newark NJ Prudential Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/28/2022 Dallas TX American Airlines Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/29/2022 Detroit MI Little Caesars Arena 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/29/2022 Houston TX Toyota Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/30/2022 Cleveland OH Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
12/30/2022 San Antonio TX AT&T Center 3:00 PM & 7:30 PM
You can check out our 2021 coverage here, and an interview with guitarist Chris Caffery surrounding the release of his sophomore Spirits of Fire album from earlier this year. And, a recap of Joel Hoekstra’s Bloody Mary jam on the 2022 Monsters of Rock Cruise with TSO vocalists Gabbie Rae and Dino Jelusick, Wizards of Winter bassist Greg Smith and his Tokyo Motor Fist bandmate drummer Jordan Cannata.
For more from current and past TSO members, visit our archives. Check out our Interview with Chris Caffery about his debut Spirits of Fire Album, and also be sure to check out our interview with Chris regarding his solo album Jester’s Court, as well as more from the TSO family including an interview with frontman Nathan James from Inglorious and one with Joel Hoekstra about the Whitesnake album Flesh & Blood and an interview with Jeff Scott Soto discussing his solo work.
Most recently, check out our coverage of the Wizards of Winter ensemble from November 2021 at The Lamp in Greensburg and if you really want to hit the archives, check out this interview with musical director Al Pitrelli from his time with Megadeth.
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for more local concerts and festival coverage in 2023 including the RokIsland in Key West, Monsters of Rock Cruise, M3 Rock Festival and more.
Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen.