The Trans-Siberian Orchestra rolled into town on Wednesday night to perform its progressive rock story “The Christmas Attic” and other music to a sell-out crowd at Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. It was a different kind of Christmas celebration but the crowd loved the spectacle!
The great thing about living in Atlanta is you have access to some very different Christmas and holiday offerings. Traditional fare like A Christmas Carol and the Nutcracker are supplemented by the Jingle Ball, Jingle Jam, Brian Setzer’s Christmas Rock Extravaganza and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. There is something for everyone in this town during the holiday season.
For progressive rock fans, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra provides a distinctive and increasingly popular take on Christmas. While the TSO have been around for more than 15 years this is the first tour they have performed “The Christmas Attic”, a musical journey loosely based around a young girl’s discovery of the meaning of Christmas through letters found in a trunk stored in her family home’s attic.
Each letter introduced by the rich baritone voice of Philip Brandon prefaces a musical number that is more often than not accompanied by lasers, enough spotlights to light up downtown and the occasional Bellagio waterfall-inspired dancing fire.
From start to end the show is intensively choreographed which makes perfect sense given the scale and the scope of the spectacle. It is an audio-visual extravaganza and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra carry it off well. A huge stage leaves plenty of space for the visual effects that center on the lights, lasers, and fire. The music is great and the flow of the evening works well with brief interludes provides by the reader.
Some of the visual elements like the rotating and elevating platform at the back of the arena and the elevating platforms at the front are completely “over the top” in an entertaining way. The show is pure spectacle from start to finish.
Because of those elements it feels like a great performance but because of the scope of the production and choreography it doesn’t feel like a live concert.
For example, a major element of any live performance is missing from this arena show. I think, though, that in focusing on the visual spectacle the musical performance and its performers are relegated to a distant second which given their abilities actually detracts from the overall experience. The musicians are all very talented and given the sound system you can hear them perfectly but given the size of the arena you can’t see them!
If Trans-Siberian Orchestra is going to play big arenas and fill them with hi-tech lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and fire the least they could do is put up a video screen that allows the audience to see the performers up close!
It’s a great evening out and a spectacularly different way to get into the holiday spirit that just needs a few more elements to allow the audience to connect with the performers to make it a more personal celebration for everyone, not just those in the first ten rows!