Nick Rogers Reviews STYX In Springfield, IL
ILLINOIS STATE FAIR
Styx In Classic Form Without Showing Its Age
By NICK ROGERS
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
It's so much better when a classic-rock band carries no aging agenda, confident in its ability to recreate the songs that sold millions for them without pushing the fact they're past their prime.
One such band played the Illinois State Fair Grandstand Sunday night, and that was Styx, a band that has lost three-fifths of its key players, but has retained a sturdy sense of fun and professionalism...Styx caught fire with the crowd of 4,665 for the nearly two hours they played.
The Chicago-based band marched onto the stage in front of a brilliantly bright white light before launching right into "Blue Collar Man," on which Tommy Shaw demonstrated he's still got the pipes and poses of a rock star...
..."The Grand Illusion" and "Lady" were dispensed with early, Gowan on the latter making dramatic runs across the stage...He endowed the show with eager energy to fill his own role in the band, part prankster (snapping Polaroids and bothering drummer Todd Sucherman) and part piano master. His ragtime solo, which evolved into double-time ragtime, was a crowd-pleaser on which Shaw and James "JY" Young did a humorous do-si-do.
In typical Grandstand fashion, the rock-concert mix was at times a little too muddy and aggressive, but many tunes from Styx's vast catalog cut through the crud. The rowdy, rocking "Too Much Time On My Hands" was a guitar high point (after which James "JY" Young urged the audience to congratulate "Tommy bleepin' Shaw").
And the band wisely rolled through a medley of album cuts, arranged by Sucherman. It was as much a showcase for the band's deep history as it was for Sucherman's explosive drumming. "Mademoiselle," "Midnight Ride," and "Heavy Metal Poisoning" were among those touched upon briefly. Unfortunately, so was "Mr. Roboto," of which only the computerized-voice beginning was heard - again, no love for DeYoung and the Kilroy experiment.
Shaw's acoustic-guitar beginning to "Crystal Ball" was a nice respite from the electric overdrive, even though the full band shortly kicked in. And he did a little flamenco shimmy with his guitar on the opening bits of "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" before Gowan and Young launched the spaceship-landing keyboard sound that has become Styx's trademark.
Throughout the night, Young was like a sinister rock 'n' roll preacher, screaming to the crowd to pump them up for "Miss America," one of his tracks from "The Grand Illusion..."
...The "Styx fix," as Gowan put it, was filled by a DeYoung song, "Come Sail Away" - of course, Styx would have been run out of town if they didn't play that. Perched proudly atop the keyboard, Gowan belted the song out, and it closed with a burst of confetti.
The evening concluded with a four-song encore featuring tunes from influences (Ray Charles' "What'd I Say," Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" and The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus") and one of the fan favorites of the night, "Renegade."
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