Styx still rocks!

Tricia and I saw Styx at the Brown County Fair on Thursday night. It was a fantastic concert, well beyond my expectations!

Styx in the 1970s

Styx has been my all-time favorite band since high school. The first album I ever bought by any artist was The Grand Illusion by Styx in 1977. I actually got it on cassette tape so I could play it in my car. By the time I graduated high school in 1981, I had added Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theater to my collection. When I was a senior, someone broke into my 1966 Chevy Bel-Air and stole all my tapes. So I went down to the music store at Port Plaza Mall (anyone remember the name?), and bought the four Styx tapes again. The clerk thought I was nuts.

Two years after high school, I vacationed in Southern California for 2 weeks with my roommate Dean Dupont. That summer, Mr. Roboto was all over the radio, so of course I added Kilroy Was Here to my collection.

So, now fast forward to 1996. I was living in Southern California. Styx had been through some changes and drummer John Panozzo had passed away. The remaining original band reunited, with Todd Sucherman on drums, and did  the Return To Paradise tour. That year, Tricia and I saw Styx and Kansas at the Greek Theater, an amphitheater at Griffith Park in Hollywood. We had a lot of fun with our friends Jeff and Catherine Greenberg, and I had finally fulfilled my 20-year-old dream of seeing Styx live.

So, now fast forward again to 2009. I’ve since moved back to Wisconsin, and now I get word that Styx is coming to the Brown County Fair. Very cool. Thanks to Kathy Kocken and Jason Gegere, I got VIP tickets in row three. And that’s where Tricia and I were Thursday night.

Styx in 2009

The day started with this article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette. In it, Sucherman says that “the band has never sounded better, and the band has never had this much energy.” Before reading the article, I didn’t know what to expect. Now I figured we were in for a good show. And Styx didn’t disappoint.

They played for about 90 minutes, during which they threw at least 50 guitar picks into the audience, and also tossed Styx logo beach balls and frisbees. And audience interaction was only the start. I’ve heard a number of “older” bands over the years, and the saddest thing is when they just don’t sound good any more. Not the case with Styx. They had all the energy of a top-notch rock band. And their harmonies in songs like Renegade were dead on.

James Young was at the top of his game on guitar, always the rocker of the group. Likewise, Tommy Shaw’s guitar on songs like Crystal Ball was fresh while his vocals sounded as good as they did 35 years ago. Ricky Phillips was very energetic and entertaining on bass. Lawrence Gowen’s vocals were genuine while he often played keyboards backwards, never missing a beat. Todd Sucherman showed why he was voted best rock drummer in 2009 by readers of Modern Drummer Magazine. And Chuck Panozzo even made an appearance playing bass on several songs. As a unit, Styx still has still got it. Overall, it was a great rock performance.

I’m trying to remember all the songs they performed. Here’s what I recall:

  • Lady (1972)
  • Lorelei (1975)
  • Suite Madame Blue (1975)
  • Crystal Ball (1976)
  • The Grand Illusion (1977)
  • Fooling Yourself (1977)
  • Come Sail Away (1977)
  • Renegade (1978)
  • Blue Collar Man (1978)
  • Babe (1979)
  • Too Much Time On My Hands (1980)

And they surprised us with a nostalgic cover of the Beatles’ I Am The Walrus. Gowen explained that this was the kind of song that inspired the creation of Styx in the early 70s. Completely missing from the concert was anything from Kilroy Was Here, I suspect that they just let Dennis DeYoung do those songs in his solo act, which is just as well.

Two days later, I’m still pumped that I got to see Styx live, and my iPod helps to keep the concert fresh in my head. If you see them coming to your town, don’t miss it!

Comments 9

  • I saw Styx in concert Sun in Boston. They did not sing their best song ever and possibility one of the all time great songs. “Babe” was one reason I went. I have been reading about problems members have over the years. Could copyrights be the reason for not singing Babe. Needles to say I was bummed out and 3 days later still feel down in the dumps.

  • I’m a huge fan of styx! I have seen them 3 times! I’ve seen them with boston, foreigner, kansas, reo speedwagon, and .38 special! They are my favorite band and I think that they rock! Todd Sucherman is an awesome drummer! I like their newer keyboardist who replaced Denis Deyoung. I do miss Denis Deyoung but I think that Styx is doing just fine without him. STYX ROCK!

  • To the previous post regarding STYX not playing the song BABE.

    BABE was purportedly written by Dennis DeYoung as an anniversary present to his wife Suzanne. Accordingly the song has significant emotional attachments to Dennis. Additionally, there was dissention within the band when it was released because the song (and the song FIRST TIME) were the first genuine ‘pop’ style ballads that the band had recorded, which bothered others (particularly James Young, Tommy Shaw and John Panozzo.)

    Tommy has long admitted that he admires the song, even though his competitive spirit and ego struggled to accept it from the perspective of a member of STYX. However, during the 1990 DAMN YANKEES tour, Ted Nugent concocted a brief skit in which Tommy would begin playing the intro on an acoustic guitar at which point Ted would appear onstage and proceed to destroy the guitar in his contempt toward the ballad.

    Dennis DeYoung found out about the skit after his daughter reported after seeing DAMN YANKEES in concert. Dennis became infuriated and proceeded to prevent Tommy from viewing a STYX concert when the venue was shared by both bands. The next day, Tommy found Dennis at which time they sat down and discussed the conflict.
    Tommy promised to never ‘make fun’ of the song again.

    Upon the 1996 and 1997 tours with Dennis, STYX performed the song at every show, however, upon Dennis’ refusal to tour with the band in 1999 and 2000 (and his subsequent termination from the band) STYX has not performed the song. The song is regarded solely as Dennis’ song and the band respects his attachment.

    As for copyrights, the band is entitled to perform any song from the STYX catalog as they wish (and Dennis can do the same) and they can record them for audio release. The only limitation results from the original contracts, when music videos were beginning, where in each participating band member must consent for video recordings to be released. Because of the tension between Dennis and the band, the band rarely seeks his consent for any reason, and thus video compillations often exclude songs written by Dennis DeYoung. The most notable exception to the lack of cooperation involved the re-release of the video CAUGHT IN THE ACT (with original music videos included) and the COME SAIL AWAY: The STYX Anthology.

    Tension between Dennis and the band began before Tommy joined in 1975 and resulted in his being terminated in 1979. Additionally, upon his return to the band the conflicts grew worse until Tommy left the band in 1983. Tommy and James attempted several times to get the band back together but Dennis’ schedule never allowed.

    Only in 1995, when the band reunited (without John Panozzo) to re-record LADY for their 1996 Greatest Hits package, did the band reunite. Within two years the tensions, animosities and conflicts over control reinstituted and the band decided to move on without Dennis.

    Many Dennis DeYoung fans feel that he was wrongfully terminated and proceed to not only boycott the current band but to denigrate any and every release put forth by the band and its individual members.

    Dennis, though he stated that he had an incurable disease and was unable to tour, decided in late 2000 to tour on his own and has successfully toured since both with and without an accompanying orchestra. He performs the song BABE each and every night and always devotes it to his wife Suzanne.

    Best wishes,

    John

  • Just saw them at the Ventura County Fair.

    They are amazing. Well over the expected performance.

  • Going to see them tomorrow night in Biloxi, MS. Can’t wait.

  • I just saw these guys at this years NHL New Years bash at the Winter Classic also I’m sure you know they performed at the game between periods. Their performance was great and they sounded awesome! They played that great version of ” I Am The Walrus” as well.
    Would go and see them again for sure!

    Could someone tell me if it’s the same Lawrence( Larry) Gowen who did “Criminal Minds”

  • just saw styx 2/12/11 at a small casino venue in oklahoma. venue held maby 1000 seats so worst seat in house was like row 20 floor! and yes they were awsome. played for 800 fans like they were at a sold out arena with 30,000. the casino is on the kansas- oklahoma state line and 100 miles from any large population base city. okc 2 hrs, wichita ks 1.5 hr and I dont think it was advertised well. thus not a sellout!!! If your around okc or wichita and a styx fan and didnt go because of the drive your loss. youll never get that close to a stage for $40 BUCKS.

  • STYX is not STYX without Dennis DeYoung….period.

  • Styx was my first live concert back in the early 80s. Last night it was my teenage kids’ first live concert. They were thrilled and very impressed (hard to impress teenagers) that Styx sounds just as good live as they do on their recordings. I thought Lawrence Gowan was a fantastic addition to the band. Both of my kids said that this kind of classic rock and roll is a dying breed, that the current popular musicians don’t have this kind of talent or ability to entertain. Pretty astute analysis for a 15 and 17 year old.

    STYX still ROCKS! and rolls across the generation gap!