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TSO delivers holiday dazzle in spectacular fashion

As they waited in line to pass through KeyBank Center security on a crisp Saturday afternoon, two women were chatting about the upcoming Trans-Siberian Orchestra show.

“Is it a concert, or an orchestra, or a play, I don’t get it” one woman said to her friend, who, it was clear, had brought her along for the first time.

“It’s ... kind of all three,” the friend replied with a smile. “It’s just really, indescribably amazing.”

With that, they were through the line and off to find their seats for the matinee of TSO’s annual visit to Buffalo for its “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour, leaving in their wake a perfect summation of the TSO experience: “indescribably amazing.”

The thousands of fans who chose to forgo a Saturday of Christmas shopping were treated to a spectacle of sight and sound unparalleled in today’s live events.

Now in its 19th year of touring, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra seems to find a way to take its dazzling convergence of lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and video to new heights each year.

The stage in Buffalo featured five scissor-lifts, carrying the musicians aloft as they delivered some of the most revered Christmas songs in ways most people would never conceive. Simply put, this isn’t your grandma’s Christmas concert (and if it is, your grandma is really, really cool).

Bryan Hicks returned to narrate the magical story of the Ghosts of Christmas Eve, his booming voice and wonderful stage presence setting the backdrop for the spectacle happening all around him.

Shrouded in fog, a dozen singers and musicians took to the stage as the show opened with “Time and Distance.”

What followed was two hours of sensory overload (in a good way) as TSO took its rabidly loyal fans on a journey through timeless classics like, “Joy to the World” and “Christmas Dreams,” which was one of the most spectacular songs of the afternoon (and that’s saying a lot).

On a stage awash with talent, Russell Allen once again stole the show with his vocals, none more so than on, “Good King Joy,” in which he brings a unique edge to the story of the birth of Christ.

One thing that could easily be lost among the other-worldly, non-stop multimedia display is the fact that TSO is group of world-class singers and musicians. Don’t let the lasers and lights fool you — you could take in a lot of shows in your lifetime and never see another collection of musical talent of this level on one stage.

Roddy Chong is a magician on the violin, and, along with Joel Hoekstra on bass, he exudes a joy and happiness that is refreshing and contagious.

The back half of the show was highlighted by “Music Box Blues,” with Russell Allen again on vocals. Backed by a half-dozen singers and his band mates, Allen transported the audience back to an era of old-time blues, and, for a few minutes, you might have sworn you were on Bourbon Street — at least until the “snow” began to fall from the rafters and the lasers lit up the darkened arena.

It was one in a string of magical moments in the epic rock opera that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Like a good lake effect storm, fans can count on the return of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 2018. So, if you didn’t make it out to “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” mark your calendars, and plan to be here next December for an electrifying experience that will leave you in breathless wonder.

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