Popular Christmas touring act Trans-Siberian Orchestra hits town for two shows Saturday at Key Arena. If you've ever been to a TSO show, you may have wondered why so many people showed up looking like they meant to go to a heavy metal concert.
Easy answer: The founding members of TSO used to be a metal band. Producer/songwriter Paul O'Neill and songwriter/sometimes vocalist John Oliva, as well as other members of TSO, were once Tampa-based metal act Savatage.
What? You've never heard of Savatage? Don't worry, most of the TSO crowd hasn't either. It's a shame because if you listen to something like "Streets: A Rock Opera," or "Gutter Ballet," you'd pick up up on the piano-based metal influences found in TSO rather quick.
Maybe I'm just a metal elitist, pushing Savatage on anyone who will listen. In my life I've only met two people who knew about Savatage that didn't discover them at the same time as me or through me. (Jared and Vera, you know who you are.)
That might be one reason TSO is so popular among the Christmas crowd: The people who buy TSO albums have a secret (or not so secret) desire to rock. TSO brings together grandmas who want to spread the holiday spirit and grandkids who spend most of their time listening to Metallica and Iron Maiden. The biggest difference is subject matter.
The following video might be your first exposure to Savatage. You are in for a treat. If it isn't and you are one of the lucky people who already knows about the group, enjoy anyway. Wear your metal shirts with pride and tell everyone at Satruday's shows that you knew TSO before they played Christmas music.