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Event Reviews

Styx

Styx

Midflorida Credit Union Event Center/Port St. Lucie Civic Center, Port St. Lucie, FL • 2.1.20

Iconic rock band, Styx, has been wowing crowds with their electrifying performances since the 1970s. The multi-platinum rockers show no signs of slowing down either and continue to tour, performing for packed houses everywhere. Bringing their unique sound and stage show to the inaugural concert at Midflorida Credit Union Event Center (formerly named Port St. Lucie Civic Center), the packed audience was treated to two blistering sets plus a two-song encore on a chilly yet magical evening in South Florida.

Tommy Shaw

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Shaw


James

Michelle Wilson
James “J.Y.” Young

Finding just the right balance of prog rock, catchy pop songs and soft ballads, Styx remains as timeless as their beloved music, and they NEVER seem to age. Original guitarist/vocalist James “J.Y.” Young is the only full-time founding member of the band, but original bassist Chuck Panozzo does join them onstage for some songs at each show, this one being no exception. The remaining lineup packs a mighty kick and includes guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, who, at 66, has stumbled on the proverbial fountain of youth, powerhouse bassist Ricky Phillips, monster drummer Todd Sucherman, and sensational keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan. Shaw and Gowan have never sounded better, and the musicianship is just top notch. Shaw is a very underrated guitarist and watching him play is a sheer joy. Covering a career-spanning array of nuggets plus two covers, Styx was indeed in top form and kept the freezing concertgoers spellbound. There were enough leaps, kicks and theatrics to rival musicians half their ages, and their (many) smiles were genuine.

Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman

Michelle Wilson
Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman


Lawrence Gowan

Michelle Wilson
Lawrence Gowan

Kicking off the evening at 8pm and playing until 10:30 with a 25-minute break, the band took the stage amid dazzling lights and opened strong with “Overture” and “Gone Gone Gone,” both off their latest release, The Mission (2017), and then threw it back old school with a classic Pieces of Eight (1978) choice, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights).” Interspersed throughout the concert were five additional tracks from the 2017 album, including “Radio Silence,” “Red Storm,” “Locomotive,” “The Outpost,” and “Khedive.” “Styx is making new music in the new millennium!” shared Young, who was wonderfully interactive with the crowd throughout the evening. The newer compositions blend seamlessly with the vintage material, and fans definitely were digging all of it.

Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and James

Michelle Wilson
Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and James “J.Y.” Young


James

Michelle Wilson
James “J.Y.” Young, Ricky Phillips and Tommy Shaw

But it was the tried and true classics that most of the diehards came to hear. Along with the one-two punch of “The Grand Illusion” (title cut, 1977) and “Lady” (Styx II 1973), deeper gems such as “Snowblind,” “Rockin’ The Paradise” and “Too Much Time On My Hands” (all off Paradise Theatre 1981), “Suite Madame Blue” (Equinox 1975), “Miss America” (Grand Illusion), and “Pieces of Eight” (title track, 1978) gave the packed house their Styx fix. Young encouraged fans to take out their cell phones and turn on the lights for “Light Up” (Equinox), a nod to bygone days of lighters at concerts. Highlighting an already stellar show with “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” and “Come Sail Away” (both off The Grand Illusion), original bassist and Florida resident, Chuck Panozzo, joined the band onstage for both classics, much to the crowd’s delight as they sang along.

Lawrence Gowan, James

Michelle Wilson
Lawrence Gowan, James “J.Y.” Young and Ricky Phillips


Lawrence Gowan and Tommy Shaw

Michelle Wilson
Lawrence Gowan and Tommy Shaw

Shaw engaged in an easy rapport with fans, indicating that the band didn’t even have time for a soundcheck – as if they need one. “I heard this was the first concert here. This is why you call Styx. We can take care of that,” he joked, before launching into an acoustic version of “Come Again,” which he co-wrote and performed while a member of Damn Yankees. The band then rejoined him on stage for “Crystal Ball,” the title track from their 1976 release.

To honor the passing of the late Neil Peart of Rush, Gowan spoke at length about the influence of the mega-drummer/songwriter. He encouraged everyone to gaze up at the stars on the cold but clear night, as he melted hearts with a hauntingly delicate, stripped-down mini-version of “Limelight” (Moving Pictures 1981) featuring only keys and his outstanding vocals. This was a class act all the way and a moving tribute to a brilliant musician.

Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, James

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, James “J.Y.” Young, Chuck Panozzo, and Ricky Phillips

Rounding out the evening with crowd favorites “Mr. Roboto” (Kilroy Was Here 1983) and “Renegade” (Pieces of Eight) as the encore, the dynamic super-group proved yet again that classic rock is not only alive and well but thriving. It was indeed a phenomenal show, and I would have expected nothing less. I’ve attended countless concerts in my life and Styx consistently ranks as one of the greatest live shows out there. They genuinely still enjoy performing and give it everything they’ve got at each show. This band certainly isn’t phoning anything in. There’s a reason that after all these years, they STILL sell out venues. Keep on rockin’, boys, keep on rockin’.

Check out all the photos from Rock Legends Photographers here: rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/STYX-Port-St-Lucie-FL-2-1-2020

styxworld.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Styx and REO Speedwagon

Styx and REO Speedwagon

with Don Felder

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater / Tampa, FL • 7.18.17

It’s long been said, “Only the strong survive.” And in the topsy-turvy world of rock and roll, that adage certainly holds true. Hair-sprayed poster boys of the ’80s were exterminated by flannel-clad kingpins of the ’90s, which were consumed in short order by the AOR contenders of the new millennium. Oddly, 40-some years later, it’s the feel-good acts birthed during the shag-covered ’70s that continue to generate consistent blockbuster box office business. Sophisticated fans seeking more “bang for the buck” flock to appealing retro package tours such as this summer’s successful “United We Rock” excursion – a collective that partners Illinois-bred chart-busters, Styx and REO Speedwagon, with Florida native, Don Felder.

To say that Felder’s 7pm performance was laid back would be to overstate his personal level of California-style energy. “Most of my memories of the ’70s and ’80s have a smoky haze,” the former Eagles guitar ace confessed, from behind a pair of mirror shades to the throngs of enthusiastic early birds.

Don Felder

Christopher Long
Don Felder

Christopher Long

 

Along with his world-class, four-piece combo – an ensemble that featured renowned bassist Kasim Sulton (Todd Rundgren, Meatloaf, Joan Jett, Utopia), the 69-year-old music vet had even the venue’s attendants singing and dancing in the aisles. Can SOMEBODY help me find Section 387, Row XX, Seat 5 – PLEASE? Wowing the faithful with studio-perfect recreations of his best-known hits, including “One of these Nights,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and a mesmeric rendition of “Seven Bridges Road,” Felder also had a few surprises up his sleeve – introducing his “good buddy,” Styx guitarist, Tommy Shaw onstage to play banjo on “Take it Easy,” and REO guitarist, Dave Amato for the iconic set-closer, “Hotel California.”

A torrential South Florida downpour soon threw an unwelcomed monkey wrench into the show’s timetable. The cautionary, hour-long delay saw amphitheater GM, David Harb commandeering the mic, more than once. Calm, cool and reassuring, Harb apprised the audience of weather and show time updates, as well as inviting and encouraging those with uncovered Lawn Section tickets to seek shelter from the storm in the pavilion’s covered Reserved Section. #MVP

By 9pm-ish, founding REO Speedwagon keyboardist, Neal Doughty had finally led his five-man troupe onto the stage – opening the show with the “Don’t Let Him Go” / “Keep Pushin'” double-whammy.

REO Speedwagon

Christopher Long
REO Speedwagon

 

Nursing a serious-sounding case of laryngitis, frontman, Kevin Cronin spared his strained vocal chords from gratuitous banter. Sporting tinted, black-rimmed fashion glasses and a sparkly vest, the white-haired, 65-year-old singer / songwriter resembled a cross between a glam version of Mr. Blackwell and a rock and roll version of Mr. Rogers, as he greeted fans with messages written on hand-held placards. HELLO TAMPA!

Cronin’s ailment, however, was merely a speed bump, as the abbreviated Speedwagon show was a spectacular-looking, high-tech, high-energy production – one brimming with biggies – from such Casey Kasem anointed classics as “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Keep on Loving You” and the thunderous crowd sing-along, “Take it on the Run” to longtime FM staples, including “Ridin’ the Storm Out,” “Time for Me to Fly,” “Roll with the Changes” and bassist Bruce Hall’s 1979 opus, “Back on the Road Again.”

Christopher Long

 

Despite speaking much of his vocal parts by set’s end, Cronin scored high marks for his steadfast professionalism, not only in terms of the overwhelming audience response, but also from those gathered in the venue’s media / press area following the show. In fact, one Central Florida music journalist was overheard commenting, “Kevin Cronin on his worst day is still better than most everybody else on their best day.”

Christopher Long

 

From turbo-charged teens, pumping their fists, center stage to super-moist soccer moms, drooling over at “you know who’s” side of the stage to lifelong diehards scattered throughout, wielding butane torches and cellular devices, fans were more than amped for Styx to hit the stage shortly after 10pm.

“Overture,” the instrumental lead-in track from the band’s acclaimed new record, The Mission, served as a perfect pre-recorded intro to the arena-sized spectacle – a 75-minute cavalcade featuring fan favorites, old and new.

Buried behind a massive wall of walnut-burst toms and brilliant-finish cymbals, longtime drummer, Todd Sucherman was barely seen, yet his presence provided the foundation – the very power source for Styx’s platinum-selling playlist.

Styx

Christopher Long
Styx

 

Perennial partners, singer / songwriter / guitarists, James “JY” Young and Tommy Shaw teamed with bass stalwart Ricky Phillips to form a ferocious, sweat-soaked alliance – holding down the frontline through such hard core anthems as “Blue Collar Man,” “The Grand Illusion,” “Lorelei,” and “Miss America.”

Christopher Long

 

Dressed in standard black slacks and a striking gold lamé jacket, Young proved engaging – conveying to the crowd sanitized accounts of the band’s exploits in the “old days” – transparent confessions that led into the 1975 album cut, “Light Up.” Seemingly less than savvy regarding modern-day music formats, the 67-year-old founding guitarist also announced, “We’ve got a new album, or CD, or whatever you wanna call it.”

For his part, Shaw was equally charming – sharing personal stories of his mother’s home cooking and unique recollections of first joining the band back in 1975. “Thanks for sticking around tonight,” he offered sincerely. “Thanks for sticking around all these years.”

Christopher Long

 

Shedding the “new guy” stigma (finally) after a near 20-year tenure with the band, Lawrence Gowan delivered the goods with savage intensity. Sporting a striking new “Elvis Munster”-style coif, the celebrated Canadian singer / songwriter / keyboardist “owned” not only the DeYoung era classics, but also such newer gems as “Gone Gone” and “Radio Silence.” His solo vocal / piano renditions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” made for chilling audience sing-alongs and provided a sweet segue into the epic, “Come Sail Away.”

An estimated 12,000 fans, plunking-down hard-earned cash to experience an authentic rock show – legendary artists, knocking out nuthin’ but hits and offering nuthin’ but value. “Only the strong survive,” indeed!

styxworld.com reospeedwagon.com www.donfelder.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Styx

Styx

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?

Styx's Tommy Shaw

Christopher Long
Styx’s Tommy Shaw

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.

Styx

Christopher Long
Styx

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.

Styx's Ricky Phillips

Christopher Long
Styx’s Ricky Phillips

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!

Styx: www.styxworld.com