STYX ROCKS IN SUCCESSFUL CALIFORNIA CONCERT
The classic-rock champions stir memories in a performance at the L.A. County Fair
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
POMONA, Calif. – Of all the top bands on the classic-rock circuit, Styx may very well do it best, as the fivesome continue to play more than a hundred large-scale concerts per year – more than they ever did during their heyday with ex-singer Dennis DeYoung – including a successful performance Friday, Sept. 12 at Fairplex at the Los Angeles County Fair.
I was in the front row, the only guy in the midst of a pack of about 15 cougars, as Styx started right on time, played nearly every hit we all wanted to hear,delivering it all with panache, style, and most of all a big dose of fun.
Where is all the fun these days? Sometimes we forget how special a concert can be when one of our favorite bands from our youth comes forth with killer live versions of the songs that blared from our Mustangs and Camaros during high school.
“Grand Illusion” reminded me of ski trips to Big Bear and smoking pot in the back of the bus. “Lady” brought memories of the first time I squeezed a girl’s tits. “Renegade” brought me back to the old San Fernando Valley, cruising with friends to beer parties when we never realized we’d get old one day. “Come Sail Away” returned me to the very house I grew up in, sitting cross-legged on my old waterbed with headphones on and my finger reaching for the rewind button.
James Young and Ricky Phillips
James Young and Tommy Shaw
Yes, Styx takes you back, but the band is more than nostalgia. Even though the records are no longer climbing the charts, they music is still on the radio — and all these new, so-called rock bands that probably all will be gone in five years should have been in Pomona right there with us, taking notes.
Three great singers, too, for the price of one.
Tommy Shaw still looks so young that I have no idea how he goes it, On “Fooling Yourself,” he was totally in control, and on “Crystal Ball,” he nailed the song so perfectly that I was feeling those beautiful chills down my neck as the little hairs on my arm stood up.
James Young is rock-star-cool, just as always. His command of that beautiful red guitar he was playing was truly something to see, and his vocals were crisp and authoritative on “Miss America,” one of the evening’s biggest highlights.
And then there is Lawrence Gowan, who replaced DeYoung in 1999 – no easy task – and has proved a worthy contributor with increasing confidence, a 57-year-old Canadian with swagger who is blessed with a beautiful voice that’s different than DeYoung’s but still fits in perfectly.
Bassist Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucherman formed a tight rhythm section, and their tempo was just like the records – important because a lot of bands don’t play the same speed like we remember the songs, and that usually is a bummer.
By the time Styx finished its set, everyone was vociferously cheering for more, as the band returned for an encore, starting with “Rockin’ the Paradise,” followed by the closing “Renegade.”
It had been a tough week for me, a tough month, actually, and Styx’s performance made me feel a lot better.
Unless I am totally missing something, that is what rock is all about.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at email@example.com