"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Beware: Trans Siberian Orchestra “Christmas” Show Turns Into Fiery Hell

I make no apologies if you were thinking of going to the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More show this year. Indeed it is the “More” part of the show I feel I need to warn you about if you have never been and were expecting “pure Christmas.”

It’s been about ten years since I first saw them—and loved them—with my husband. We were so impressed we bought a few of their CDs and have listened to them over the years during the holidays. We were looking forward to a great stage show of bigger than life Christmas classics and TSO’s signature Christmas pieces to usher in the season. I was especially excited because we were taking our adult son Chris with us. He is a musician. I thought he would be surprised with TSO’s live, powerful rock/metal take on traditional Christmas classics he’d heard growing up that were normally heard in a church and on our holiday CDs.

We excitedly settled into incredible floor seats six rows back from the stage. The huge billowing purple curtain hung just a few feet before us.  “It’s going to be wild,” I said, memories of the intense, huge laser light show a decade ago still dancing in my head.

Well, the first hour was the awesome, traditional Christmas TSO that I remembered. Vocalists, bass, six-strings, keyboards, an incredible electric violinist, drums, and back up singers delivered traditional hymns and classic TSO Christmas tunes in grand, thunderous rock/metal style. It is mind-blowing to hear O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night, What Child is This? and classic TSO This Christmas Day and Christmas Canon Rock .   (Listen to this if you are not familiar with TSO). You could feel Christmas reverberating right through you.

Like the last time I saw TSO, there was also a booming baritone narrator who lead us  through a lovely Christmas story. This one was about a runaway girl who witnessed Christmas miracles while she sought shelter in an abandoned theater.

The lasers were mesmerizing; you could feel a blast of heat with the pyrotechnics. Again, TSO made “real” snow that drifted down onto our heads. That, and the fog transported you to a believable, magical Christmas place.

So what’s my problem?

The second half of the show! Where the first hour and half I was lulled into a most  festive frame of mind, I was suddenly (figuratively) thrown into the fires of hell! Gone with the holy, angelic voices and snowy effects. Instead, a giant lizard with rolling golden eyes took over the screen! And it just went down from there.  I mean way down. Like to the portal of hell down. Suddenly the women were wearing impossibly shorter, barely crotch-covering dresses. They were gyrating on a catwalk overhead, strapped to a pole with a chain. The stage lit up with awful red/orange lights.  Then out shot out the real flames!  Way too many and way too close to be cozy. In fact,  I could feel my eyeballs drying out in the instant heat. The guitarists seemed more menacing and lewd. At one point the women singers sang/chanted in Omen-esque Latin. They danced in a circle that conjured images of a coven. I imagined that the gates of hell would soon open and Satan himself would take center stage!

Goodbye, Christmas buzz!

I know there are diehard TSO fans out there who will probably think I’m old-fashioned and a jerk, but why did TSO have to even have that second half of the show? Rife with apocalyptic, illuminati-esque symbols on the screen. It was very medieval (evil), very Game of Thrones with the castle motifs (I admit I’ve never seen Game of Thrones). Am I missing out?

I left the Mohegan Sun theater feeling very disturbed, sad, and that I  had been subjected to something that felt icky and dark. My husband, son and I discussed the show all the way home later into the night. Chris “googled” TSO and found there were other people who shared some of my observations. I guess I need to clear my palate with something wholesome and Christmassy. Maybe It’s a Wonderful Life marathon? Any suggestions?

 

50 Responses to “Beware: Trans Siberian Orchestra “Christmas” Show Turns Into Fiery Hell”

  1. Sean Moriarty

    Here is something upbeat: I had a great night out with you and Chris!!

    Reply
  2. Denine Wood

    Apparently, you have not done your homework on this band since you last saw them. There is much more than the Christmas trilogy out there. The show has progressed over the years to also showcase the non holiday recordings they have. As for the short skirts not sure what band you’re looking at, the girls change from black dresses to leggings with a vest. Sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. Next time do your homework.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      You’re right, Denine. I did not do my homework. Lesson learned. Thanks for your post.

      Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Andrew, thanks for posting. I believe it is about the marketing and jumping on the let’s-get-dark bandwagon to reach a larger and more modern audience. I am an old nostalgic at heart, I guess.

      Reply
      • Jane Daffron

        One of the songs they feature is O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.and they’ve been featuring this for YEARS. I take it you also don’t know the history of the song either. It is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the 13th century, and part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about Fortuna, the inexorable fate that rules both gods and men in Roman and Greek mythology. YES, it is dark and foreboding, just as it was written to be.

        The collage presented with Christmas in Sarajevo based on several Xmas songs has been shown for YEARS with TSO and represents the war there as well as all over the world.

  3. Steve the PickGuy

    So yeah…where to begin? The “other” half of the show featured songs from TSO’s non-holiday albums (‘Night Castle’ and ‘Beethoven’s Last Night’) which TSO fans also enjoy greatly. The Latin chanting is a piece called “Carmina Burana” written in the 1930’s by composer Carl Orff.

    Anyone who knows anything about TSO’s live performances knows that they use pyrotechnics so I would recommend sitting further back from the stage next time if it bothered you. Similar effects are frequently used at theme park attractions by Disney and Universal Studios. They are handled by professionals and have local Fire Dept inspectors check them out for safety before and during the performances.

    As for the scantily-clad females gyrating while chained to a pole, they are professional dancers (and singers) and the pole is question is a safety anchoring device. The chains are actually safety harness straps and not metal chains that keep the performers from falling off the rising stage platforms.

    I wouldn’t call you old-fashioned or a jerk but there are people of all ages (from 5 to 75 years old) that enjoy the entire show and its accompanying spectacle. If you were offended by such a performance I would instead suggest that you do some research before purchasing tickets to any future events. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that would have let you know ahead of time what to expect at a TSO show or any other group. May I recommend a performance by Mannheim Steamroller or The Boston Pops for your next holiday entertainment as they sound like they would be more in line with your sensitivities and preferences. Regards…

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Steve the Pick Guy, thank you for your considerate and classy post, educating instead of bashing. I am guilty of not doing my homework.

      Reply
      • tanjabuzzimoriarty

        Hey Joyce. I’m OK. Thanks. The mistake I made was not checking in with how the band evolved so much from when I saw it years ago before going. If I had, I probably would have excused myself from the second half and gone for an ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s stand out in the casino 🙂

    • Mary

      You are so spot on. I never miss their show. Do your homework. If you saw them years ago then you should know what the show is. In a way I really wasn’t looking onward to this year with the loss of Dave. Chris was on his own with the comedy this year. Joel show his friendship of Dave with the pray card on his guitar made it a bit easier.

      Reply
  4. Andrea Williams

    Lady as a DIE HARD Trans Siberian Orchestra fan who has seen them every year for over 15 years or so, YOU NEED TO GET THE (replacing Andrea’s F-word) OVER YOURSELF!! I just plopped down almost a GRAND or more to have a replica of the men’s tailcoat that the guys wear on tour to wear when I go see them in Charlotte on December 7 2017. Yes the name is somewhat misleading. Wild horses wont keep me away from seeing them. You see TSO is a direct descendent of a progressive rock band called Savatage. It was the Savatage song from the concept album Dead Winters Dead that gave birth to TSO. That song is Christmas Eve in Sarajevo 12/24 which is also know as Carol of the Bells. It was based on true events that happened during the Bosnian War back in the 1990’s. Perhaps you have heard the song in this year’s Kia’s holiday ad which pay homage to two facts: the pyrotechnics which is seen in each show and the fact numerous people even the Osborn Family Christmas lights in Walt Disney World have been set to their music. Illuminati imagery my ass. I will travel a hundred miles to see them if they fail to make an appearance at Spectrum Arena in Charlotte and that is one way too. You lady make the Grinch look like a saint.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Hooray for our first amendment right to express ourselves! Andrea, I appreciate your passion, but could do without the harsh language and insults. Being decent to each other is one of my goals on this site. I’m really no Grinch, just weary of all of the negativity, violence and darkness in this age. I just want Christmas to be sacred and am passionate about it.

      Reply
      • Andrea Williams

        I am not afraid to call a spade a spade. Apparently now we live in a society that is afraid of that and you sound like one of them.

      • tanjabuzzimoriarty

        Hey Andrea. I definitely am not afraid to speak up (“call a spade a spade”), and am trying to do that with more and more tact as I go.

      • Elizabeth

        I’d like Christmas (formerly known as the WINTER SOLSTICE) to be sacred, too! Unfortunately that ended when you Christians stole the holiday from the Pagans.

        Seems you need to educate yourself on more than just a concert, lady.

    • Joe P.

      Very good history lesson of the beginning when Paul found the band from Tarpon Springs Florida and grew that into TSO. Have been following them for years and worked their shows at Hershey. Have become good friends with many of the members and stay in touch with them throughout the year. This year am going as a patron and sitting 7 rows back on the floor. This year is to be memorable as they pay tribute to two of their members who have been taken from them. First Paul O’Neil who passed away this last Spring and then David Z who was tragically killed in an accident while touring with a band in Florida. I love their entire show but I guess it is to each his own. I agree with Andrea. I will drive through the worst weather and great distances to see them each year.

      Reply
  5. Mike Heisler

    If you had seen them prior, why is the second half if the show a surprise to you? Every show starts with the Christmas show then as a bonus they play their versions of classical music such as Beethovan, Mozart, Orff and more. The second half has always been a bonus. To me it sounds like you needed something to complain about in order to feel better about yourself.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Mike, apparently the show has changed a lot since I saw it ten years ago. The second half seem so much darker than what I remembered. I do a fair amount of voicing my opinion, speaking up when I feel something is “off” or the “Emperor isn’t wearing clothes”, and I also point out thing going well and give praise when it is due— as evidenced by my posts here. I feel at peace with myself because of my faith and that I seek healthier, positive things that bring more joy.

      Reply
  6. Jane Daffron

    “They were gyrating on a catwalk overhead, strapped to a pole with a chain. ”
    Uh, yeah – it’s called OSHA required Fall Protection. They would be in violation of OSHA regs if they didn’t have it.

    “but why did TSO have to even have that second half of the show? ”

    The 2nd half is ALWAYS classical/hard rock/head banger combo.. You yourself said you hadn’t seen a show in 10 YEARS. Don’t you READ reviews/synopses of the shows?
    You remind me of those who attend plays because of a name but never bother to read the synopsis, then get PO’d because it’s not what YOU thought it was and walk out.

    You haven’t gone in 10 YEARS. Did you seriously think they would have the same thing you saw 10 YEARS ago now? How droll and boring would that be.

    I’m nearly 63. I LOVE going. And the closer the better.

    Reply
  7. tanjabuzzimoriarty

    Jane! Thanks for sharing your point of view. Yes, I hadn’t gone in a decade. I didn’t do my homework, but I didn’t expect the contrast between the first and second half of the show to be so jarring. As above reader Andrea posted, the title was misleading. The Christmas portion in my humble opinion should stand on its own and would be very powerful by itself. I am generally very open-minded and enjoy a variety of art forms, especially when they are original and passionate—like the first half of show.

    Reply
  8. Sean Michael

    While I may not agree with Tanja’s observations of the show, they are just that, HER observations. Everyone has their own experiences in life, especially when art is the subject. While I may think a blue painted canvas with a red dot in the middle is not worthy to hang on any wall some may believe it is MOMA worthy. It is an individual perception, and that is exactly what this blog is. We do not all have to agree with each other but we should be able to discuss matters such as artistic expression without vulgarity and personal attacks. Peace to all.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      That’s the goal, Sean Michael. I never got the blue canvas with the red dot art, either. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, right?

      Reply
  9. tanjabuzzimoriarty

    That is the cool thing about art. It evokes a ton of different emotions. We can marvel at how another person can see something quite different from our own perspective.

    Reply
  10. Brad

    I myself am a Christian as well as my wife. I saw them 2 times and noticed this also. However we expect it. This will be her first show. She is excited. If she wants we can leave early. That was my question. Why didn’t you just leave? But she knows what to expect from the show. As far as the second half goes. Yes they add in all their other music to suit all people. There are a few great non Christmas songs they do. Excited to see them in Chicago at the end of December.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      I didn’t just leave because my husband and son were enjoying the second half, and we were sorta sandwiched in with those floor seats.

      Reply
  11. Jane Corda

    It was also my first experience with TSO.
    I expected it to have more of a traditional Christmas feel.
    We did not stay to the very end because I felt over stimulated.
    The musicians are very talented but I am not a hard rock fan. I genuinely thought they might have a holiday sing along.
    Very glad I went but, I don’t think I would pay $130 to see them again.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Thanks for the post, Jane. Imagine 10,000 people singing about peace and love?

      Reply
    • Jane Daffron

      Holiday sing a long?????
      Uh, in what century are you???
      They’ve never ever had such a thing
      Last time I heard of something like that was Lawrence Welk 50 years ago

      Reply
      • tanjabuzzimoriarty

        It amazes me, all though I should be used to it by now that a lot of people these days are so hardened and mean-spirited. (J.Daffron). Maybe Lawrence Welk…and John Lennon for that matter were on to something. “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”

  12. Shelly Braun

    I find it comical that people are ripping you a new one because your taste in music is different than theirs. I love TSO but to each their own. Merry Christmas to you.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Hey Shelly! It’s a sign of the times. People find it remarkably easy to rip you a new one on-line, but less likely in person. The goals of my blog site “Getting Even” are: 1. highlighting things that are going well, are healthy or even inexplicable (on the side of miracles) that help to chill us out, wonder, find joy ; and 2. to provide a platform to call out something that one feels is wrong, off, or just disturbing in hopes that it makes us think about what we are seeing, hearing, supporting (see post on “Sexed Up Macaroni and Cheese.” and the “dirty” Levis commercial). We all have different thresholds. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you’ll check in again. Again, for the record, I love the TSO Christmas shows and anthems. The other stuff is just too strong for my taste. Merry Christmas to you, too!

      Reply
    • Jane Daffron

      It’s the fact that she didn’t do her homework prior to going and expecting no changes in a 10 year period that most, including me, have a problem with.

      That is her fault and hers alone, and it’s not the fault of TSO for progressing instead of regressing and/or being dull.

      When you don’t bother to do your homework, don’t complain that it’s not the same as you think it should have been

      Reply
      • tanjabuzzimoriarty

        Jane, the Christmas portion of the show was basically the same format of a story, great Christmas music, etc. Different plot and characters. The part that I mourn is that this world has gotten so coarse, so dark in the past (ten) years that seeing something primarily billed as a “Christmas show” but then slides into the lizards, hellish fire and dark themes is what brought me dismay. TSO must be merely keeping up with the times to please you and the wide market that enjoys this sort of thing. I am glad I live in a free country (it still is for the time being) where we can exchange ideas and opinions.

  13. andrewphotossite

    you made the ladies who are my friends btw sound like strippers. they are far from that they are kind generous ladies. what exactly do you call illuminati related and satanic about the show? did you know most of the band members are of different faiths? times change and you should of looked on youtube before going. the giant videos add to the show like a live music video. maybe lindsey sterling is better for you but maybe not because she sometimes wears short dresses too and im sure youd hate rocktopia too

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Big difference in the movements in the second half. Certainly not the dance of the sugar plum fairies. Things that I would call “symbols”: triangles, eyeballs, triangles with eyes, Apocalypse Now helicopters, fire, Latin chanting, red/orange, dancing in a circle, trendy dark stuff. I believe I already wrote about it. Other posters here have “illuminated” me on some of the deeper meanings and layers and I thank them. All I am saying that at the surface level, the first half did NOT go with the second half. I actually LOVED the first half and will continue to enjoy my “Christmas” TSO music. I don’t know who Lindsay Sterling is (I’m 52 and outta touch, I guess). I like Shirley Temple, though. (lol!) Peace out, Andrew.

      Reply
  14. Mary London Szpara

    I’ve seen TSO every year since 2003, their Christmas show as well as Beethoven’s Last Night, multiple shows over the course of the two years it toured.
    I’ve seen Christmas tours of the East & the West, have enjoyed the talents of some of the most remarkable vocalists and musicians performing. I’ve come to respect and care about them all, have followed their separate careers and bought their independent projects. I’ve grieved at the loss of members that became friends through the past 15 years and this year was especially hard. The TSO fan base is a great, large family who appreciates the music and the experience.
    In a world with so much division, this is the one place we all can come together. The love of the music TSO creates as a totality, is remarkable. Their body of work is exceptional, and the 2nd half is a way to introduce the other stories to you. I highly recommend you find out about the stories in the projects. You would completely reverse your thoughts of demons and evil, as the prevailing common thread through everything TSO is HOPE.

    The show every year gets bigger, more pyro, more moving parts. The second half of the show has evolved a bit, but what you see is out of context is you are not familiar with their other material. The beauty of TSO is they are not just a holiday show, but an evolution of the rock opera. The audience gets a glimpse of their other work in the second half. And the musicians are not just touring with TSO. They have their own side projects. TSO is pretty tame for some of them: they rock a whole lot harder with their personal material. I find the show somewhat restrained myself…from some of your replies to other comments you stated your husband and son certainly enjoyed the 2nd half much more than you did. Harder rock may not be your thing, but for those of us that love it, we find it to be masterfully executed, well choreographed (and honestly, the women’s clothing has more coverage now than 10 years ago) and not as loud as I would like it to be.
    The most exciting and anticipated tour, which the best crew and musicians in the world are a part of, is a treat for those of us who love our holiday music steeped in jet fuel. Just remember, if you just want Christmas music, (which you admitted you loved) leave after the story ends in the 1st half, you won’t be offended, will have experienced something special and will walk away with the warm and fuzzy you were seeking.

    Merry Christmas.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Hey Mary. Thanks for your calm and intellectual and informative post. I appreciate learning new things. Love “…who love our holiday music steeped in jet fuel.”! That’s how I feel about TSO Christmas songs and the old traditionals kicked up. I see that I really hit a nerve with a lot of the dedicated TSO fans, and I’ve also learned from you and a few others that there is more than meets the eye and senses in the second half of the show. I like my warm and fuzzy after the first part and will probably take my leave if I should go again…maybe in another decade?! Merry Christmas to you.

      Reply
  15. Aeryn

    If you truly saw TSO previously, you’d know they have always showcased their other music in the second half of the show. There was absolutely nothing indecent about the women’s dresses (and they wore pants and vests in the second half!) They use a tether and pole to keep from falling off the rising platforms! Guitarists menacing? LOL! They smile and hand guitar picks to kids in the audience most of the time… how threatening. I have no idea what you find wrong with something written in Latin. That song is Carmina Burana, and it’s incredibly famous and has been performed by countless professional choruses worldwide for close to a century. The helicopters and dragons are part of the story from another of their recordings. It really sounds like you’re projecting here. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Reply
  16. Darrell Ritchie

    The reviewer lost all credibility with that whole Illuminati reference. That said, anyone going to a TSO show expecting anything “traditional” is in for one heck of a disappointment. Before shelling out $130 bucks for tickets, I’d do some homework on what I might expect from the show, but that’s just me.

    I particularly enjoyed the criticism of the “chains” bit. I guess the reviewer would have preferred that the performers fall off the elevated platforms and sustain potentially serious injury.

    I don’t mind criticism of TSO….no band is above criticism, but I do mind it when artists are criticized for being EXACTLY what they are trying to be. It makes no sense. It’s like criticizing the movie TITANIC because the boat sank.

    Reply
    • laura kenney

      Hello, Darrell,
      The reviewer wasn’t criticizing the band so much as sharing how the images in the second half of the show caused her to feel icky. Perhaps, as many of the responders here have remarked, she should have looked into what the billing “and more” actually entailed, but how many of us do that? If I buy tickets to a Peter Gabriel concert after not having seen him for ten years, I don’t start delving into every move he’s made since, I just go to the concert and expect to be entertained in a way reasonably similar, even with innovations, to his last concert. I wouldn’t expect him to do something totally out of character. The reviewer has been educated, as she asked to be, regarding whether what TSO presented during the second half of this show was out of character. Apparently it isn’t. Does that make her reaction less valid?

      As far as your Titanic analogy, I think you missed the boat. The reviewer’s post simply shares her views on how shocked and dismayed she was by certain aspects of the show, which is more like saying she didn’t like Titanic because the boat DIDN’T sink.

      I, myself, never liked TSO–too much going on, too many synthesizers–and if I criticized Titanic (at least the one James Cameron directed) it would be because the movie was tripe.

      And all you others who seem to think it’s okay to lambast people in online forums (calling a spade a spade? what kind of lame excuse for being rude is that, Jane??), please stop.

      Reply
      • tanjabuzzimoriarty

        Hey Laura! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  17. PaulOBoyle

    Sad that so many TSO fans (aka Trolls) are slamming this lady. The TSO shows have changed a lot and not everyone likes the changes And now musicians in TSO are sharing her review on Facebook and making fun of it. Says alot about the group and its fans. 🙁

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Hey PaulOBoyle. Thank you for your validation that not everyone likes the changes and “musicians in TSO…are making fun”. I hope the musicians and director can take some positives from my comments, at least from a marketing standpoint. Maybe they be even more successful if they just peddle a “Christmas Show” only and have the faith that it will be just as profitable.

      Reply
  18. Sarah Thomas

    I would be so embarrassed if I had written this review. I’m surprised you haven’t gone in to change a few things that weren’t opinion; they were simply wrong. Like complaining about the “pole and chains.” Did you want them to fall off of the raised stage? Do you not understand that performers get attached to something stable in case they lose their balance? Medieval is not interchangeable with evil, as you infer. (And if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, why are you using it to compare to this show? They’re nothing alike, not even the graphics or décor.) You do nothing but whine that they’re “evil,” but you didn’t take the three seconds to look at what a good, generous organization TSO is. They donate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to charity, they are some of the nicest performers in the biz, and they each have incredible careers on their own outside of TSO. I feel genuine second-hand embarrassment on your part. As a reviewer myself, I couldn’t believe how poorly researched and defended your review was. If it was your opinion that the show was too dark, it’s your right to defend it. But arguing about things like the SAFETY harnesses…. just embarrassing. Old-fashioned and a jerk? No. Ignorant and mistakenly self-important, yes.

    Reply
    • tanjabuzzimoriarty

      Hey Sarah. I’m not embarrassed for sharing my opinion of something that disturbed me. I’m glad we all have the right.

      Reply
  19. Karen Ivers

    First time seeing the show and I loved it… absolutely blown away! Can’t wait till next year!

    Reply

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