The King Center, Melbourne, FL • October 21, 2010
As the final death knell resonates throughout the land proclaiming the demise of the tangible recorded music format, established music artists are stepping up their game more than ever in a fight for economic survival in the digital world. While some artists today are enjoying the lucrative benefits of licensing their music to corporate ad campaigns, others are cashing in by attaching their names and likenesses to various products from clothing lines to toys to coffee blends, tequila, and energy drinks. Even dead rock stars are represented in the modern day marketplace. Have you seen the Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain action figures?
However, many top-name acts are still generating most of their annual revenue where it counts most — in the one place that can never be affected by the Internet — the road! From sales of T-shirts, hats, and other concert-related swag to special new millennium VIP packages offering fans ringside seating along with personal backstage meet-and-greet experiences, touring continues to be a (very) big business.
Acknowledging a relentless fan passion for the (long playing) tangible recorded format, many legendary artists are now offering ticket buyers an alternative to their standard Greatest Hits concert set list — the Classic Album tribute. Established acts like Roger Waters, Queensryche, Rush, and Megadeth have experienced considerable recent box office success by recreating some of their best-selling full-length albums, live — song for song, note for note, in their entirety. And in 2010, arena rock pioneers Styx have seemingly trumped their competition by recreating not one, but two of their all-time classic albums — The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight while on their current tour.
With such an exhaustive amount of music to cover, there would simply be no need, or time, for an opening act this night, as the King Center house lights dimmed and the band’s intro rolled at 7:45 p.m. Setting the stage for the evening’s two-record tribute, a short video presentation played across the giant onstage screen, depicting a teen from the late ’70s, in his bedroom, shuffling through his cherished record collection — ultimately discovering his Grand Illusion LP. The 1,600-plus Melbourne fans cheered with delight as the onscreen teen gently removed the record from its cardboard jacket and placed it on the turntable. As the record spun ’round and ’round, the sound of the needle meeting the vinyl echoed throughout the auditorium while the band took the stage.
From “The Grand Illusion” to “Come Sail Away,” the current all-star Styx line-up featuring founding member, guitarist James “JY” Young and veteran cohort, guitarist Tommy Shaw, along with Canadian chartbuster, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, reknowned session drummer Todd Sucherman, and former Babys bassist Ricky Phillips perfectly executed the first half of the band’s 1977 creation as the image of the spinning record reappeared on the video screen, just in time for the onscreen teen to lift the needle from the (now) end of side one, flip it over and resume the program with side two. Colorful video images of the American flag and sexy dancing girls soon flashed across the screen while the band kicked off side two, burning through the perennial fan favorite, “Miss America.” Upon the conclusion of “The Grand Finale,” the image of the spinning record once again appeared on the screen as the teen removed it from the turntable and placed it back in its cover — bringing The Grand Illusion to a rousing conclusion.
After a twenty-minute intermission, the band returned to the stage to recreate the 1978 Pieces of Eight record while the now beloved onscreen teen led the audience from side one through side two in the same fashion as The Grand Illusion. Opening with “Great White Hope” and ending with “Aku-Aku,” the mutli-million-selling record also featured the classic rock staples “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade” — making for an equally mighty second half.
Following the conclusion of Pieces of Eight, the band once again left the stage, only to return a moment or so later for a two-song encore which included a remake of The Beatles classic, “I Am the Walrus” and their own 1981 hit, “Too Much Time on My Hands”– completing an incredible sounding and spectacular looking, 100% “Roboto-free” production, filled with high energy, hard driving, arena rock!