You’re probably like me. You’ve heard of the Trans Siberian Orchestra but never experienced it, right? I put them in the same category as Boney M. I used to manage a record store and every Christmas, they used to send a crap load of Boney M’s Christmas album because it would sell. You know the cover …
I’m not sure where they come from but I think it’s Germany. And definitely from the 70’s. Trans Siberian Orchestra has the same vibe for me. I thought they were from Iceland and were a bunch of prog rock weirdos. Uh uh.
Now, Short hates Christmas. Like actually hates it. I didn’t believe her at first but now I do. She’s explained the whole thing and she has legit reasons. I’m the opposite. I LOVE it. I love the songs and the candy and the presents and the lights and the tv specials. But mostly I love the fact that people are just a little nicer around the holidays. I’m not imagining it. They are. Cut to me noticing the Groupon for this show. I forwarded it to Short but did not think for a moment that she would agree to go. But she did! I commend her for trying to move past the ghosts of Christmas past.
We started off the evening with a lovely meal at e11even. I know. The name is irritating. Who has a number for a name with a number in the middle of the number? A restaurant that is right by the ACC and can afford the rent because all of Bay Street eats there before their long trek home. I thought it would be a good idea because I’m staying dry for November in anticipation for the over indulgence of the holiday parties. I can’t tell you how much cheaper the restaurant bills are if you don’t drink! Short had the scallops ($14) and I had the burger ($24). I’m a sucker for a good burger. This was surprisingly only in my top 15 in Toronto considering the cost.
We got to our seats just as the show was starting. The ACC was packed and the air was electric. The announcer boomed, “Ladies and Gentlemen … The Trans Siberian Orchestra!!”. And they started. Okay, as I said earlier, so not what I expected. WAAAAAAAAAY better! This band is a tightly wound, well oiled machine. The guitar players all have super long blonde hair, tight pants and matching jackets. They rip through guitar solos with Flying V’s.
There was a full rock band along with an orchestra, back up singers that all marched and danced in time. Explosions, lasers, fire, smoke, hydraulics. It is everything that every rock band wishes they were. BUT THEY ARE SINGING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. It’s freakin’ crazy. I was worried that I was going to turn and look over at Short and she would be frowning and ask to leave. But guess what? I finally braved it about three songs in. I looked over … and she was laughing hysterically. Awesome!
It was loud and fun and really really good. There were a couple of female vocalists that did solos and I think they could rival Mariah Carey or Celine Dion or Aretha Franklin. I’m not kidding. I’ve looked up the band since the show and they’ve been together since 1996. The members change from year to year except for a few. Chris Cafferty has been there since the very beginning. He told the audience that he remembered playing Massey Hall back in the day. My oh my, how far they’ve come!
Bryan Hicks is the narrator and he’s been doing the show since 2003. I’m guessing that it’s a pretty good gig. They only tour in November and December and are ranked in the top 25 touring live shows of the past decade. The crew is just as much a part of the show as the band and I get why. The show is beyond. TSO is also philanthropic which makes me very happy. They give one dollar from each ticket sold to a local charity. They’ve donated over 10 million dollars doing that over the years. C’mon. That’s pretty awesome.
It was cheesy and loud and bigger than life and I loved it. But, just when Short and I thought they had crescendoed and the show was ending, we realized that it was half time. We sat through another 2 numbers but they weren’t really Christmas themed so we opted to split and head home. These guys are playing 2 shows on Fridays and Saturdays and I’m sure they’re loving it but I figure they probably could have cut down on the time and everyone still would have left happy.
I’m so glad that we finally discovered TSO. It’s not like they were trying to stay hidden but I guess I just didn’t know what to expect. Now I know and I’m hoping that I can make this a glitzy mirror balled tradition. I absolutely loved it! But I love all things Christmasy and gaudy and insanely over the top and Trans Siberian Orchestra Toronto 2016 was all of that.