“This is going to be the greatest production you’ve ever seen.”
That’s the simplest way Trans-Siberian Orchestra co-founder Al Pitrelli can describe what fans can expect when the progressive rock band hits the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on April 7.
The group was formed in 1993 after songwriter Paul O’Neil recruited lead guitarist Pitrelli, vocalist Jon Oliva and keyboardist Robert Kinkel.
Incorporating influences as diverse as classical music and heavy metal, all the live shows feature a symphony orchestra, a choir and a live narrator to guide people through the experience.
“It’s a combination of really good musicianship, great theatre, incredible production,” Pitrelli says. “I mean, just good, old-fashioned American arena rock production – lights and lasers and pryo – and all the bells and the whistles that go along with it.”
He’s phoning from Knoxville, Tennessee where the band is a few weeks into Beethoven’s Last Night 2012 tour that stretches out until May.
Each night Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been performing the concept album in its entirety, recreating a fictional account of the German composer’s final day on Earth.
Despite the exhaustive road and studio schedule – he’s spent just two weeks at his Pennsylvania home in the last 14 months – Pitrelli says he loves the lifestyle.
“My home is on the tour bus,” he says. “I’ve been doing this 30 years, I don’t know anything different.”
But he says the intense touring schedule is much easier to deal with now that he’s older and his children are grown up.
The guitarist has played with numerous big bands over the last three decades – Alice Cooper, Megadeth and Blue Öyster Cult among them – but he maintains fans of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra are among the best.
“There’s nothing like a TSO audience. It’s the most unusual thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says. “You can have a kid sitting there in a Metallica T-shirt or a Slayer T-shirt next to his grandmother who’s dressed up in a reindeer crocheted sweater around the holidays.”
Tickets are available at abbotsfordcentre.ca