Thursday night (November 13) in Council Bluffs, Iowa and Toledo, Ohio, the two touring companies of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra kicked off the winter tour of the Christmas Attic presented by the Hallmark Channel. After seeing TSO at the Sioux Falls Arena back in 2011, my wife and I have made the short drive to Council Bluffs each of the past three November's to see the show and have left more impressed each time, and this year was no different as the band put on a rock opera they have never performed live before.

From the giant toy box that spanned the stage before opening to have the drummer, one of the two keyboard players and the local symphony rise out of the top that reminded my of seeing the Electric Light Orchestra in the late 70s and their spaceship stage to the masterful musicians to some of the absolute best vocalists on the planet, the show is more than the premier holiday show you will see, it ranks as one of the best rock shows I've ever seen.

Al Pitrelli is the leader of the west coast tour that kicks off in Iowa. He may be best known from TSO now, but has also recorded or toured with Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Joe Lynn Turner, Asia and Savatage after attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston. His resume' speaks for itself. He is an amazing player. But that can be said of ALL of the band members. There are over two DOZEN musicians and singers involved in the show. From the narration of Phillip Brandon, to the classic three guitar metal lineup, to the vocalists that I have to single out because they are so incredible: Jeff Scott Soto is a classic metal frontman who sang with Yngwie Malmsteen but also fronted Journey for a short time; Nathan James is in his second year with TSO and can absolutely wail. One of the highlights of the show was a jazzy. bluesy holiday song that had the crowd dancing in their seats before the familiar Jimmy Page guitar riff of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" kicked in. When James started singing "Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream", the crowd yelled out and started pumping their fists in the air, taking the show to a whole new level.

Singer Gabriela Guncikova was discovered in the Czech Republic and made her US debut Thursday night bringing goosebumps with her spot on vocals. But the star for us this year, and every year we've seen the band is the incredible Chloe Lowery. The passion this young lady sings with and the notes she hits never fail to bring a tear to your eye.

All together, the show takes you on a story of a young girl going to the attic in her home on Christmas Eve and reading some old letters she has found stored there. The whole production is really beyond words. The work these crews put in as they live in the Omaha area for over a month leading up to the tour to perfect the shows for us is really incredible. Do yourself a favor and make a Christmas present of the show to yourselves.

The tour runs through January 4th, including two shows in St. Paul, Minnesota on December 30th that we may try to make again. Yes. The show is THAT good.

And before you start commenting and sending e-mails, yes. I have been bugging TSO management to PLEASE find a way to include Sioux Falls and our new Premier Center on the 2015-16 tour. We have a building that can hold this production and I think we have enough music lovers in the area that would come to see this fantastic show.

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