Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s musical spectacle a big part of the holiday season

Progressive rock orchestra Trans-Siberian Orchestra will bring its unique brand of yuletide music to the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday.

Since its creation in 1996 and its first hit, "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24," Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or TSO, has become as synonymous with the winter holidays as eggnog and reindeer. The 80-member group is known for its pyrotechnic displays during performances, spending upward of $2 million per show during last year’s tour.

But even that wasn’t big enough for band founder Paul O’Neill, so he quadrupled the pyro effects for the current 80-city tour.

"I learned this from Pink Floyd," O’Neill says. "Just don’t let the audience get bored. Take them on a journey when they’re in the arena."

To O’Neill, the fans are the most important part of the orchestra and its shows. Rewarding them for their loyalty is important to O’Neill, so he tries to ensure that there are no bad seats at a performance. Audience members sitting up close may be able to see small details, but those in the nosebleed section are getting a more cinematic experience, he says.

"When the full-on pyro hits, you see these huge walls of flame go up in time with the music. And then you feel the heat," O’Neill says.

He adds he also wants to keep the shows affordable for fans, especially during tough economic times. Ticket prices range from $28 to $59.50.

Since its first tour in 1999, TSO has played live to more than 7 million people and grossed more than $250 million. Last year, Billboard Magazine ranked it among the top 25 touring artists of the past decade.

The band, which includes 24 lead singers, will perform songs from its platinum-selling albums, including "The Christmas Attic," "The Lost Christmas Eve," "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" and last year’s "Night Castle."

The show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at the Thomas & Mack Center box office, online at or by calling 739-3267.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review or 702-380-4564.

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