STYX Live In Hampton!
October 26, 2016, a year ago
Like an ever-growing list of other ‘70s acts, Styx haven’t seen a major label contract in ages and exist in the present day with only one full-time original member in tow (in this case, guitarist James “J.Y.” Young). Founding member Dennis DeYoung, whose trademark high-register voice and Broadway-tinged compositional flair always added a sense of quirky (and often cool) oddness to the band’s more traditional rock leanings, has been gone since 1999. It’s been a quarter century since Styx’s last radio hit (1991’s DeYoung-penned “Show Me The Way”), while the band hasn’t released a new studio album since 2005’s Big Bang Theory (which was a covers collection). While these various signs clearly point to a long-expired group with very little gas left in the tank, the band’s triumphant performance at New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom on October 21st demonstrated that there is still plenty of fire fueling Styx as they enter their 45th year.
Although they may not be the Styx that most fans in the evening’s sold out crowd grew up loving, today’s incarnation of the band (Young, long-serving singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw, lead singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, former Babys/Bad English bassist Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucherman, along with sporadic live appearances by ailing original bassist Chuck Panozzo) arrived armed with not only one of the tightest original repertoires in classic rock history, but also a slew of intriguing – and often unexpected – cover songs that added even more excitement to the proceedings. Highlights of the two hour-plus set included spirited renditions of original band hits “Lady,” “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Snowblind,” “Renegade” and “Too Much Time On My Hands” and the band’s take on The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Towards the end of the night, Gowan led the crowd through “a pyramid of Classic Rock” that featured snippets of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” before capping it all off with the Styx mega-ballad “Come Sail Away.”
While more than a few of their original ‘70s-era contemporaries have fallen victim to the cruel hands of time, Styx remain a band whose music and talents as a live act are strong enough to rise above personnel changes, record industry woes and even death. (Original guitarist John Curulewski and original drummer John Panozzo are no longer with us.) All one had to do was listen to the passionate cheers from fans at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom to be convinced that these musicians are still relevant and magical.