Roaring round the globe for almost 20 years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra TSO, for short is the unlikeliest musical group to become not only one of the top concert acts ever, but a holiday tradition equal to Santa Claus himself.
TSO brings this symphonic-prog/classical-metal gift to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for two shows Saturday.
But, according to founder Paul ONeill, it was the Christmas that almost wasnt. Its first album was intended to be a rock opera about the Bolshevik Revolution that instead was reformatted for Broadway.
This led TSO to try something radically different, and the result was 1996s Christmas Eve and Other Stories.
It didnt really sell, ONeill said. But [our label] was like, Paul, youre on to something. Keep going, and when we finished Beethovens Last Night in 99, we decided to tour and thats when the band exploded.
Five years later, TSO was among the worlds top 10 touring bands.
It just seems to keep growing, he said, and our biggest fear now is, Just dont drop the ball. Dropping the ball seems to be the least of the acts worries, as 2012 has been another big year for TSO, said ONeill.
An industry veteran who has produced albums for Aerosmith, managed AC/DC and Ted Nugent, promoted concerts in Japan for Madonna and Sting, ONeill takes changes in stride to help keep his shows fresh, and fans coming back.
This years concert is no different, switching focus to 2004s The Lost Christmas Eve, because he thought its story of a Scrooge-like Wall Street banker was more relevant about whats going on in the world now.
He also believes that The Lost Christmas Eve carries a deep, personal message, for himself and for the audience.
Ive always been fascinated by December 24th, ONeill said. Theres just something about that day that allows you to undo mistakes you never thought you could undo. Theres something about Christmas Eve thatll make you pick up that phone, call that person and say, I cant remember what we were fighting about, or It was silly or Lets just hit reset and start over. Hope aside, TSO also promises to deliver entertainment.
The Last Christmas Eve is a great story. The music is great. It rocks all the way through; it has a very poignant ending; and, like any of my stories, if its not happy, its not the ending, ONeill said. If you want sad stories, just watch the news.