THE Trans-Siberian Orchestra loves Omaha. And Council Bluffs.

The genre-mashing prog rock band, which combines Christmas classics with heavy metal, has rehearsed its annual tour at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs for more than a decade. And they keep coming back. But why? "The community is amazing," said musical director and lead guitarist Al Pitrelli. "Everything about that community is awesome. You guys have embraced this, you welcomed us back year after year."

Trans-Siberian Orchestra has two touring arms, and they both rehearse lighting, staging, music and everything else involved in the massive touring production at the Council Bluffs arena for a couple weeks before setting off.

The first Christmas concert of the year for one touring arm of the TSO will be Wednesday at the Mid-America Center.

The other arm will open in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the same day. More than 100 concerts in 65-plus cities will follow.

The tour is massively successful. The band's 94-date tour last year sold more than 925,000 tickets and grossed $53.7 million. It ranked No. 16 among all North American concert tours, according to Pollstar.

But it all starts here in the Midwest. "For me, Omaha's been great, Council Bluffs has been great, the people, everything about it. People don't understand the amount of time, and energy and pressure," Pitrelli said. "There's a calm demeanor and a rock kind of vibe around the town. ... These people make us just feel like, 'Dude, don't sweat it. You're home. You're good. Go do your job. We got you.' And we appreciate that more than anything."

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's tour is quite something. In addition to the music, which includes a full band and a multitude of singers, the concert features video, lights, dancers and a lot of pyrotechnics.

This year's tour focuses on "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," the band's debut album. It's one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time, and it features the band's signature song, "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24."

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA

When:7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where:Mid-america Center in Council Bluffs

Tickets:$49.50 to $69.50 via Ticketmaster

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