Talk about wanting to be a fly on the wall. Who wouldn't have liked to have been hovering nearby when composer Paul O'Neill, who had managed such bands as the Scorpions, Aerosmith, and Humble Pie, first pitched his nutty idea for assembling the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, an operatically inclined 60-piece orchestra with a full choir created primarily, though not entirely, for the purpose of recording Christmas carols and holiday music? It was 1996, the grunge wave was petering out, the increasingly accessible Internet was already making industry types nervous, and nobody knew how to make money off a regularly touring three piece, let alone a holly-jolly juggernaut like TSO. According to all reports, O'Neill and his partners Robert Kinkel and Jon Olivia of the band Savatage weren't taken terribly seriously, but that didn't stop them from producing Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic, The Lost Christmas Eve, and a boxed set called simply The Christmas Trilogy.
In addition to their overblown caroling, TSO made an amusingly earnest attempt to bridge heavy rock with classical music in their first non-Christmas recording, Beethoven's Last Night, wherein the dying Beethoven encounters such figures as Lady Fate and, of course, the devil.
TSO brings its classical rock sound to the Mid-South Coliseum on Saturday, November 11th.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 8 p.m., Saturday, November 11th, Mid-South Coliseum, $31-$41