Wizards of Winter gave audiences an early Christmas gift Saturday night with a performance at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.
The world-renowned holiday hard rock super group performed at the theater as part of its tour in support of its latest album “The Christmas Dream.” The band released the album — its third overall — independently Sept. 27.
Copies of “The Christmas Dream” were available for sale in the lobby throughout the evening. Band founder and keyboardist Scott Kelly informed the audience during the show that any active duty military personnel in attendance would receive copies of the album for free while proceeds from the sales of other copies would benefit the Wounded Warrior project. The Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that helps military service members transition from military service life to civilian life.
The amped up sounds of the season echoed through the theater’s main hall over the course of more than two hours, as the band performed its own take on songs, such as ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘The First Noel’ and ‘We Three Kings.’ The songs were taken from the band’s new album. Announcer Tony Gaynor came in between songs to help the band take the audience on their musical journey to the North Pole and beyond aboard the “Arctic Flyer.”
The nearly three hour show featured two separate sets, each one full of holiday-themed songs, lots of lights and holiday cheer. Band founder and keyboardist Scott Kelly even took a moment to offer his own inspiring words to the audience during a break in the show’s second set.
“If you pay it forward, good things can happen.”
Kelly recently spoke with Phil’s Picks ahead of the band’s decision to play at the theater. He said the venue’s size played into the band’s decision to perform at the facility.
“The Wizards have only performed in North Carolina once before,” he said. “Despite the large number of venues in the State, few are the right size for a band like ours. They are either arenas or smaller. The RRT provides the exact mix that works best for our show. Intimate, yet large enough to allow us to do our whole production.”
The performance hall inside the Roanoke Rapids Theatre was packed with people clapping their hands and tapping their feet along with the music throughout the night. Among the dozens who attended was Roanoke Rapids couple Betsy and Neil Rumford. The couple said before the concert, they moved to town last year from Richmond, Virginia, adding they are glad the city and county have the theater.
“It is really important for this theater to be here,” Betsy said. “It draws a lot of people. We’ve got friends in Richmond who came down recently just to see the Elvis show.”
Neil expanded on her comments.
“This theater being here helps to promote the city and the county,” he said. “It promotes community. It really puts the city and the county on the map. It really makes me think of the theater in Branson, Missouri because of its layout.”
Roanoke Rapids Theatre Security Officer Joel Motley had similar sentiments to those of the Rumfords as he talked about the theater before the concert.
“I love seeing everyone here,” he said. “The citizens of Halifax and Northampton counties need somewhere to go, and the theater gives them that place to go. We are growing here at this theater, and it feels good to know that.”
While the first set of Saturday night’s concert focused mainly on Wizards of Winter’s latest album, the second set presented a more diverse lineup of songs. The band, whose members have performed and recorded with other famous acts, such as Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, performed two songs from TSO in the Wizards’ own style, as well as some of its own older songs. The set also featured a powerful rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ that saw the concert hall fill with lights from the audience’s cell phones.
As the show ended, announcer Tony Gaynor told the audience the he hoped the theater officials will make the band’s performance an annual event. Gaynor’s statement brought applause and cheers from the entire audience. From there, some made their way to the building’s lobby, waiting for a free meet-and-greet with the band while others made their way back to their vehicles to make their return home.