Pacific 2010: Styx blasts through the past



When it comes to dishing out nostalgic rock and giving the people what they want, Styx has got it mostly right.

Performing before a near-capacity crowd at Pacific Amphitheatre on Friday night, the quintet delivered a fast-paced, 90-minute set covering most of the band’s big hits from the ’70s and ’80s to the delight of the forty- and fiftysomethings who were transported back to high school and college days with every note.

Although singer-songwriter-guitarists Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young and bassist Chuck Panozzo are the only members of the current lineup linked to the original group’s hit-making era, the ensemble that revived more than a dozen songs in Costa Mesa was clearly up to the task of re-creating the blend of prog-rock, power ballads and hard-rock that remains the bread and butter of Styx’s sound.

The key factor in the band’s continued success is Shaw, who is capable of holding down the fort with strong vocals and blazing guitar work, but proved to be generous with the other players on stage, often letting them take the spotlight. Shaw and Young often exchanged thrilling solos, notably on the night-ending “Renegade.”

Highlights were invariably those songs that have aged best: “Blue Collar Man,” a blazing rocker, outdistanced the more dated “Too Much Time on My Hands” early in the set; likewise, the artful “Crystal Ball” — which featured Shaw singing accompanied by his 12-string acoustic at the start — was stronger than “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).”

Shaw, perhaps inspired by his reunion with Damn Yankees at January’s NAMM show in Anaheim, also offered up a cover of that band’s “High Enough.” Another standout was the extended version of the early Styx gem “Suite Madame Blue,” a sharp reminder of the band’s early progressive-rock roots.

Of course, hard-core Styx fans still complain that founding vocalist Dennis DeYoung is no longer a part of the band, but his replacement, Lawrence Gowan, does a fine job, and the crowd that packed the Pac Amp on Friday clearly came to party and have fun singing along with favorite songs anyway.

“The music is still here; so are you and so are we,” Shaw said early in the concert, perhaps underscoring the resurgence of Styx a decade into this new century. Anticipation is building for an October 2010 tour for which the band will perform 1977′s The Grand Illusion and 1978′s Pieces of Eight in their entirety. Styx also has just announced it is also issuing a new seven-song EP, Regeneration, Volume 1, which will feature the current lineup’s outstanding versions of older songs such as “Crystal Ball,” as well as a new track, “Difference in the World.”

Setlist: Styx at Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa, Aug. 6, 2010
Main set:
Six-minute medley of various song segments including Mr. Roboto / The Grand Illusion / Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) / Lady / Too Much Time on My Hands / Lorelei / High Enough (Damn Yankees song) / Suite Madame Blue / Crystal Ball / Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) / Miss America / Come Sail Away
Encore: Renegade




The Orange County Register - August 7, 2010

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