Reading by the light of a lost Christmas day

So I wrote these words, and I hope they last
For the years have come, and the years have passed
Think of all they gave, think of all the debt
But can't find a way, to repay them yet
For the days still come, and the debts still mount
And do words unsaid, ever really count
But sometimes still, in the dead of night
I can see them there, in the pale moonlight
I am trying
And I don't know how
And I don't know when
But I'll have to tell them someday

("Someday", lyrics by Paul O'Neill)
Going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been somewhat of an annual Christmas tradition for me. I saw them in Raleigh in 2008, 2009, and 2010; and in Atlanta in 2011. Each of these shows revolved around TSO's first album Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

In 2012, however, TSO decided to change up their live show and focus on a different album, The Lost Christmas Eve. I was psyched because that is my favorite album in their Christmas trilogy.

When they first announced their 2012 tour dates, I was still in between projects at work and didn't know where I would be relocating. Once I found out I would be in Baltimore, I started looking to see if TSO was coming anywhere nearby. Washington, DC and Hershey, PA were the closest on the list. I couldn't decide which one to go to. Suddenly, TSO sent out an email saying they had finalized their stage setup and had discovered they could add extra seats in the front row at some shows. I immediately checked the ticketing site. None left in DC or PA. But I did find some front row seats available in my hometown of Raleigh! I bought two and took my brother along.

The entire show was magnificent. For the sake of keeping this post a reasonable length, I won't go into detail on every song. I mean no disrespect towards the amazing songs and performers which didn't make it in. You can see my complete photo album on Flickr.

As the band played the opening song, "Winter Palace" from their new EP Dreams of Fireflies, I marveled at how close to the stage we were. When you're up that close, you can actually hear the sound of the guitar strings being strummed! I also got to high-five Roddy Chong during one of the songs.


During the instrumental song "Wizards in Winter", which is one of the band's most popular songs due to a viral Internet video, guitarist Chris Caffery would "sing" along and try to get the audience to join him -- "da da da da da DA!" One of the great things about TSO is you can tell they really enjoy what they do, and they really care about the fans and want them to be involved in the show as well. At one of the previous shows I attended, I could see Chris mouth the words "I love my job." And just check out these smiles on the faces of guitarist Joel Hoekstra and violinist Roddy Chong.


When I first heard that TSO was going to be performing The Lost Christmas Eve live, I hoped and prayed they would be able to get Rob Evan to be on the tour. Rob is an astonishing singer who has performed on Broadway and sung in Jim Steinman's band The Dream Engine, but he has also toured off and on with TSO for the past decade and sung on two TSO albums including TLCE. Sure enough I got to see him sing "What Is Christmas", "Back to a Reason Part 2", and "What Child Is This". During "What Is Christmas" he sang directly to my brother.


(Side note: I have my own cover of "Back to a Reason Part 2" on YouTube.)

The most poignant performance of the night came from Erika Jerry, who sang "For the Sake of Our Brother". One merely had to take a quick glance around to see there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

With a mellifluous delivery of "Different Wings" by Georgia Napolitano, the story concluded. The band then switched gears and performed songs from their other past (and future) albums.

During "The Mountain", Chris and Roddy buckled themselves into moving platforms and were raised up above the audience. The lifting mechanism went right over my head, so close that I could have reached up and touched it! (But I didn't.)


Another highlight came from young powerhouse Kayla Reeves. After the emotional show-stopper "Someday," she came over to us and sang the up-tempo rocker "Child Unseen."


The entire show was so spectacular from start to finish, that I actually decided to see it again. I once again checked the shows near Baltimore. By that point DC, Hershey, and Philadelphia were completely sold out, not even one seat left. I ended up buying a ticket to the show in Newark, New Jersey.

I got a pleasant surprise when it came time for Kayla to do her medley. Chris came to the microphone and introduced none other than the band's founder and main songwriter, Paul O'Neill! It was so cool to see one of my musical heroes in person. I thought it was funny that instead of tossing guitar picks to the audience, he tossed pairs of sunglasses.


Before the show, I had planned ahead and made prints of some of the photos I took at the Raleigh show. After every show, the band stays after for a meet-and-greet with their fans, and I wanted to get my photos autographed.

I was dismayed to learn that instead of the usual public meet-and-greet, at this particular show they only did a private meet-and-greet with people who had VIP passes. Sadly, I did not have a VIP pass, so I did what any reasonable person would do: I crashed the party. Unfortunately Rob wasn't there because he was feeling sick, but I did get autographs from Roddy, Chris, Joel, David Z, Georgia, Derek Wieland, James Lewis, and Kayla. Everyone was so nice and said they liked my photos. Georgia even gave me a hug!


When I got home I framed my signed photos and hung them on my wall, with my signed tour program from 2011 in the middle.


I hope to be able to continue rocking with TSO for many years to come. I can't wait to see what they have cooked up for next year!


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