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The economy is in a shambles, the record industry is in freefall, and, God help us, Celine Dion is back in the top ten. So where can you find a success story in rock ’n’ roll these days? How about looking for a rock orchestra that specializes in Christmas-themed concept albums inspired by heavy metal, classic rock, classical music, Christmas carols, and Broadway musicals?

While everything else in rock ’n’ roll is getting smaller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become one of the top concert draws of the 21st Century by making everything bigger. The band has toured more or less every holiday season for the past ten years with laser light shows, fireworks, special guests, and as many as

60 musicians. Audience demand has been so high that the band splits into two touring groups in order to accommodate its eager fans. Did I mention that TSO hasn’t released an album since 2004?

A TSO performance may make you want to check your calendar to remember what year it is. For one thing, there are the long-haired guys onstage playing pointy ’80s-style guitars in the kind of harmonized solos that haven’t been heard on the radio since the glory days of Night Ranger. For another, there are the cameo appearances by members of Styx and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. According to every rock critic and hipster you know, this is not what 2008 is supposed to look like.

But then, Christmas is supposed to be timeless, right? It’s no time to worry about what some hipster jerk thinks is cool. Christmas is the perfect time for TSO.

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, San Diego Sports Arena, Saturday, November 22, 8:30 p.m. 619-224-4171. $20 to $47.

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