by Gerard Smith
photo by MSchoen Photography
When one thinks of the ultimate Arena Rock experience, chances are Styx come to the forefront of their mind. Formed over four decades ago in Chicago, Illinois, between the years of 1977 and 1984, every album they released sold at least one million copies, making them one of the most popular bands in the world. Keeping their legacy going, minus a brief break in the early ’90s, Styx continue to tour regularly to sold out crowds across the globe all these years later.
In recent years they have teamed up with fantastic packages such as Don Felder and Foreigner in the Summer of 2014 before Def Leppard and Tesla in the Summer of 2015, Styx sometimes partake in special headlining shows. What does this mean for dedicated fans? It means longer performances, more diverse song selections, and an evening to have Styx all to themselves. With that said, one of the band’s regular stops over the years when headlining shows has been NYCB Theatre at Westbury, New York. With a long history at the unique in-the-round venue with a rotating stage, Styx has played the space countless times through the years. In fact, on Sunday, November 8th, it would more mark the band’s three consecutive year playing the theater, and once again, to a sold out crowd.
While original vocalist, Dennis DeYoung, parted ways with the band back in 1999, founding members James Young (guitar) and Chuck Panozzo (bass) remain, as well as Tommy Shaw, who joined the band prior to start of their meteoric rise on The Grand Illusion. They are also joined by Todd Sucherman (drums), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keys), and Ricky Phillips (bass/guitar) for an exciting lineup. Walking down from behind the curtain in the rear of the theater, they took the stage just after the 8 PM hour as everyone rose to their feet, anticipating, rightly, an evening of high energy, dynamic music.
Nineteen and seventy-seven’s The Grand Illusion was the first in a slew of consecutive platinum albums released by Styx, and the title track began what would be a transcendental evening of inspirational music. A classic Prog Rock intro on keys set the tone for the night as the crowd was engaged with, “Welcome to the grand illusion/come on in and see what’s happening/Pay the price, get your tickets for the show/The stage is set, the band starts playing/Suddenly your heart starts pounding.” A chugging riff on guitar joined the keys for a driving song, which was brought to another level with a blistering Psychedelic Rock sounding solo in the middle section. After the fireworks, the song came back to its beautifully constructed melody, before closing with more grandiosity on keys and vocals. Keeping the energy flowing, upbeat Pop Rock gem “Too Much Time on My Hands” followed the opener with a bouncy intro by Gowan on keys. From 1981’s Paradise Theater, the song had all the trappings of ’80s FM radio; a New Wave lead on keys, an undeniable chorus, and a guitar solo straight from ’70s Rock.
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