Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a new chapter in the “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” story.
For the first time in more than two decades, Trans-Siberian Orchestra will not be hitting the road to share its progressive rock and fan-favorite holiday album fare with loyal audience members, many of whom tell the band that they consider the annual show a Christmas-season tradition.
Instead, TSO is presenting a livestreamed performance at 8 p.m. Dec. 18 at tsolivestream.com. The virtual doors open at 7:30 p.m. to share some exclusive pre-show footage; plan on logging in at least 15 minutes before the show begins to make sure your video, audio and internet connections are ready to go.
Fans who aren’t able to catch the show at that time have until 11:59 p.m. Dec. 20 to stream it on demand as many times as they wish.
For longtime TSO drummer Jeff Plate, the livestream offers the band an opportunity to connect with listeners. The performers also were saddened to learn that they wouldn’t be touring during the holiday season.
“We were kind of left with no choice,” Plate said. “COVID came along, and this has been in our minds for months. We were fully aware that it wouldn’t be the full tour.”
The livestream means listeners won’t miss the chance to hear “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “This Christmas Day,” “Ornament,” “Promises to Keep” and “Old City Bar” — and the performers still get to play them.
“TSO has become a tradition, so this has become the logical next step. It’s the only way right now to connect with your fans,” Plate said. “In the long run, this is going to turn out to be pretty cool.”
For the band members, there’s another sentimental pull. Plate and his bandmates will be teaming up as one ensemble for the first time since the growing “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” tour split into two touring groups in 2000 to reach more listeners.
The livestream will bring in Bryan Hicks as narrator; guitarist Al Pitrelli and keyboard player Derek Wieland are serving as musical directors.
Joining Plate in the unified band are Chris Caffery on guitar, Mee Eun Kim on keyboards, Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Asha Mevlana on violin. Vocalists include Russell Allen, Nate Amor, John Brink, Erika Jerry, Chloe Lowery, Georgia Napolitano and Jeff Scott Soto.
“Ever since the year 2000, there have been two touring groups,” Plate said. “It’s a thrill getting to play with each other again. It’s going to be a whole different show.”
Paul O’Neill, the late founder, composer and lyricist of TSO, won’t be far from the performers’ minds. O’Neill, who died in 2017, was the creative force behind musical stories told of reunited families, the miracles of the holiday season and, always, the kindnesses of strangers.
“One of the challenges is living up to what we do,” Plate said. “These guys always rise to the challenge.”
There’s another advantage to trying the livestream this year. Instead of trudging from parking deck to venue in the cold, you and your family can watch the livestream in your Christmas PJs and clink mugs of hot cocoa.
“You don’t have to travel,” Plate said. “You’re going to have the best seat in the house. Make a party out of it.”
Tickets are $30. To order tickets, go to tsolivestream.com, which is where you’ll view the concert, too. To browse holiday bundles that include T-shirts, hoodies, holiday ornaments and other merchandise, go to trans-siberian.com.
The FAQ at tsolivestream.com includes a step-by-step checklist for signing up. A support portal is available at support.tourgigs.com; if you have trouble logging in before the concert, email email@example.com.