Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ The Prudential Center

NEWARK, NJ—All my life I’ve heard people singing the praises of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. People have told me that they’re bucket list material. And, finally I got to experience the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for myself this December.

After picking up my tickets, I set about standing in the huge line to get in. I didn’t know what I was walking into. There were people in this line who probably would never meet at any other point in their lives: hipsters, metalheads and senior citzens just to name a few.

After spending the half hour of free time I had before the show attempting to locate my seats I found, much to my delight, that I was floor and center. As a warning, there is no way anything can prepare one for a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, it’s whatever you think it’s going to be plus one. However good you think it’s going to be it’s going to be even better.

The show started off with Bryan Hicks (narrator) taking the stage after a small introduction by lead guitarist Chris Caffrey. Bryan’s voice is godlike; he has an astounding command of language. He can convince anyone of anything, I’m certain of this. For the first half of the show, between each song Bryan gave some narration and set the context. At first I was a little annoyed by his narration style—he is very dramatic—but, in hindsight, his style adds to the grandiosity of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s production. In what other context can arena rock, Beethoven and Christmas music meet and not sound like a train wreck?

The first half of the show was a collection of Christmas stories narrated by Bryan, followed by awesome shred-filled Christmas and Beethoven songs. The second half of the show was really where I got into it. Sadly, Bryan didn’t get to narrate anymore after the first half, but the second half is where things got extreme. Shows are often, incorrectly, called performances, but TSO are true performers.

Between the lights, the pyrotechnics and the crazy platform stunts I was completely overwhelmed at some points. Around the halfway point two platforms descended from the ceiling and the band began to run up and down the platforms while shredding on their respective instruments. The fact that these guys could run while playing guitar, violin and bass was impressive, especially when they had the equivalent of an ADHD sufferers’ worse nightmare happening all around them. The fires were so hot, at points, that I could feel the heat 19 rows back—I was quite surprised that nothing burst into flames on stage.

Anyone can appreciate the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, whether you like jazz, classical, punk, metal, gamelan or ska you’ll find something you like. My only warning is that you don’t go alone. At three hours in length you’ll want someone else there to point in wonder with at all that will happen at the show.