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Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul MN – December 28th 2019

The Hallmark Channel and The Xcel Energy Center Presents Trans-Siberian Orchestra for two special holiday shows on December 28th.

Review and photos by Kyle Hansen

The day started out with an insane ice rain storm in the morning. It caused over hundreds of accidents all over the twin cities metro area. They even shut down the bus service, and this is Minnesota. With that happening in the morning, my first thought was “Is the show still going to happen?”. By the time the afternoon rolled around the roads were clear and the show was on schedule. As they say, the show must go on.

I attended the three o’clock show.  There were two that day, one at three and the second was at eight o’clock.  The afternoon show was a massive two and a half hour Christmas performance. It had two sets. The first was “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” narrated by Phillip Brandon. With the story is a mixture of all the years of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They follow the angel throughout the Christmas story and mix in the music.  The highlight’s were “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” with a massive video play of marching nutcrackers, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” from original band, Savatage, and “Old City Bar” sung by local singer and songwriter, Nate Armor. “Promises to Keep” with Chloe Lowery on vocals is worth the price of admission alone. She is blessed with a voice from up above.

After the first set, Al Pitrelli talked a bit and introduced the band, which included some of the Minnesota Orchestra. The background singers got a huge round of applause as they should – they were absolutely amazing. I was also surprised to see Jeff Scott Soto to come out and sing a few songs. I’ve been a huge fan of his for a while, both solo and with Sons of Apollo. Al informed us of the twenty-five years of recording and this was their eighteenth year coming here. I finally got to see them.

He also touched on the loss of founding member, Paul O’Neil. Al told us they are recording new Trans-Siberian Orchestra material and while in the studio, they found a cassette that Paul left around.  There was a song on it they included on the second set called, “Can You Hear Me Now?” He also asked us right before the second set “Are you ready to blow some stuff up?”. That is exactly what happened.

It kicked right into “The Storm / The Mountain” with a massive laser fire show. The stage is a huge fire, laser, and light spectacle. I would try to explain it but then it would ruin the surprise. I have included a couple of shots so you can see for yourself. The rest of the set is amazing. Asha Mevlana on electric violin is something to see. She rocks the stage and pulls you in with every note. During the performances the band constantly used the scrolling LED lights in the Xcel as part of the performance.

During the show, they had an old screaming contest with the audience, seeing which part of the audience could be louder. This was always happening in the 80’s with shows. Stage right won. The second set also included two Savatage covers, “Handful of Rain” and “Believe”. “Believe” had candles all over the screens and everyone also turned on all their cell phone light to make the arena look like a massive Christmas tree. In front of the stage, they had LED light sticks that were probably six feet high each. There were a bunch of them moving up and down to compliment the already massive production we were watching.

The show is for everyone. Christmas fans, metal fans, theater people, concert fans, everyone. Be prepared for a long evening of incredible musicians, spot on vocal performances, fire, lasers and a explosive Christmas celebration.