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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Entertainment

Review: Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a welcome return to Spokane Arena

Trans-Siberian Orchestra returned to its annual Black Friday performance of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” at Spokane Arena and was welcomed with open arms and hearts and a nostalgia felt across multiple generations. The audience, ready for the 25th anniversary performance, was made up of all demographics; young, old, new and seasoned fans alike came to celebrate the start of the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving.

“Christmas Eve and Other Stories” takes the audience on a global adventure narrated by Phillip Brandon. An elaborate array of lights, lasers, torches and screens, which numbered at least 20 and displayed images of cathedrals, churches, lightning bolts, fire and, of course, nutcrackers that marched by during “A Mad Russian’s Christmas,” help to set the scene, and one need not work too hard to imagine – and be swept away by – the story being told.

First and foremost a rock band, the tour includes vocalists April Berry, Ashley Hollister, Jodi Katz, Rosa Laricchiuta, John Brink, Caleb Johnson, Chloe Lowery, Dino Jalusik, Dustin Brayley, Erika Jerry, Georgia Napolitano, Kayla Reeves, Natalya Rose Piette, Robin Borneman, Russell Allen, Zak Stevens, Nate Amor, Andrew Ross and Jeff Scott Soto; guitarists Al Pitrelli, Angus Clark, Chris Cafferty and Joel Hoekstra; bassists Tony Dickinson and John Lee Middleton; Asha Mevlana and Roddy Chong on strings; and Vitalij Kuprij, Mee Eun Kim, Jane Mangini and Derek Wieland on keyboard.

Original band member Pitrelli took a moment between the Christmas Eve set and the “other stories” to recognize and honor Paul O’Neill, who founded the band in 1996 and died in 2017. Pitrelli also used this time to recognize U.S. military veterans, saying, “One time for all the men and women and their families of the United States Armed Forces.”

The crowd cheered the hardest it had all night, then Pitrelli called out, “You guys want to stick around, blow stuff up? Alright, watch this!” At this, the start of “Carmina Burana” commenced, soon met by fire cannons shooting off at all angles and intensities, creating an all-immersive experience enjoyed by the Arena audience.

“Christmas Eve and Other Stories” is so much more than a show – it is a theatrical masterpiece complete with hair-band-esque guitarists egging on the audience to cheer or raise a fist in unison; mechanical lifts displaying the musicians for all to see; dancing violinists and operatic singers; and so much more. It is no wonder that after 25 years, this time-honored holiday tradition is still selling out venues all across the country.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, known for using its concerts to raise money and awareness for various charities, announced before the show that $1 from every ticket sold, amounting to $7,148, would be donated to the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen in Spokane.

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