Article Last Updated: Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 2:12:22 AM EST
Styx a classic trip back to the '70s
By its very nature, a classic-rock show lacks concessions to the passage of time. For the most part, Styx lived up to its end of the bargain Thursday night before an energetic, if not fully packed house at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
But, it wasn't hard to realize that it's not 1977 anymore (people were taking pictures of the concert on their camera phones), Styx isn't a best-selling rock act these days (during a playful moment with keyboardist Lawrence Gowan and a Polaroid camera, lead singer Tommy Shaw referenced the well-known Outkast lyric), and it costs a whole lot more than it did a quarter century ago to buy a ticket to the show.
Of course, for the people who spent $50 to see their arena-rock heroes of yesteryear, it was time and money well spent. After all, people don't often get the chance to visit a more carefree part of their lives, when they could throw on a pair of blue jeans, buy a six-pack without worrying about the carbs, and listen to some tunes in the garage.
For those who last thought of Styx when you heard "Mr. Roboto" on the radio 20 years ago, you probably think Dennis DeYoung is still in the band. He hasn't been around in two decades, leaving pretty much after "Roboto" came out, although he tugged at viewers' heartstrings in going after his former bandmates in a classic Behind the Music episode on the band a couple of years ago.
The band has moved on past DeYoung's departure and so have its fans. (One diehard from Chelsea who professed to seeing Styx seven times over the years told me, "They get better with time.")
And, representing the band's half of the mutual-admiration society, Shaw who has finally aged after years as the boy wonder of the group and now looks and sounds like David Spade told the crowd early on, "From what I hear, there's a lot to like about Lowell." (Note to the person who coined that slogan: You ought to seek royalties from every celebrity who references it.)
As for the show itself, obviously, Styx stayed true to its retro roots, saturating the 15-song show (one of which included the aforementioned melody) with its keyboard-and-guitar-laced cuts from its '70s albums. Most prominent was the 1977 album Grand Illusion, with the title song early on and "Fooling Yourself" (which featured the surprise appearance of original bassist Chuck Panozzo, who is now in semi-retirement), "Miss America" and "Come Sail Away" at the close of the main set.
To answer other questions, yes, they played "Lady" and "Blue Collar Man" where the crowd moved in tight to the stage and never really left but two glaring omissions were "Babe" and "Mr. Roboto" (one verse in a medley doesn't count).
The one-song encore was "Renegade" which featured the aforementioned Shaw-Gowan interplay, Gowan taking an endless supply of Polaroids (ones of the band were given to fans, pictures of the fans were kept by Gowan as mementos), and then band members sending Styx beach balls into the crowd after this most enjoyable show had ended.
Styx, Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Thursday night
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