Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Tucson Convention Center Arena, Sunday, Dec. 11

Good and almost-clean family fun hit the TCC Arena as the mesmerizing Trans-Siberian Orchestra returned for another sold-out performance. The nearly three-hour concert was highlighted by lights, lasers, headbanging Christmas tunes and the ever-present long beer line (at a family show?!).

Once the arena's lights went out, the crowd remained seated and golf-clapped while each member crept onstage and the light rigs shifted just above. "Wizards in Winter" kicked off the set with all members rocking out in black tuxedos. Various lights, lasers and strobes in different colors flashed to every beat of the song. In amazement, the crowd oozed "ooohs" and "aaaahs" before erupting into applause at the song's conclusion.

In between songs, narrator Bryan Hicks came onstage to recite a nursery rhyme that would segue into the next song from the orchestra. These narrations were the only lag to the show, as they were at times long-winded and boring.

The ensemble rotated singers from song to song, bringing in operatic to soulful vocalists to suit the mood.

And Christmas time it was: For those unfamiliar with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the group incorporates classical pieces and Christmas songs into their repertoire. Following a blistering solo from former Megadeth axeman and orchestra music conductor Al Pitrelli, the group switched gears into "O Holy Night." During excerpts from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" Suite, guitarists Pitrelli and Angus Clark added various wails to make the classical piece their own. Electric violinist Anna Phoebe also delighted the crowd with her solos while a snow machine teased the crowd with something they are not used to seeing in Tucson.

After a short intermission, the orchestra returned in impressive fashion. The group jammed on Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and paid homage to Beethoven with "Requiem (The Fifth)." During the Beethoven set, the crowd sat dumbfounded as pyro was continually set off at each end of the stage. In addition to the countless flames erupting, the ensemble even jammed on the Charlie Brown theme to win the crowd over.

As the orchestra prepared to leave for the evening, Pitrelli teased the crowd by saying, "Who knows what we'll think of for next year?" For some parents in attendance, a performance not on a school night would be a good start.

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