Concert Review: Styx Tries Keeping it Fresh

Classic rockers Styx performed a two-night stand at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, OR and brought the usual staples and a couple of rarities to their live show.

Tommy Shaw
Tommy Shaw of Styx

The ever-touring band which makes their way to the Pacific Northwest once a year or so has primarily kept the same setlist for at least five years. Pleasantly, the band added a bit of aesthetics to the stage this go-around incorporating more than just a large namesake banner. An upper deck allowed members of the band to move around a bit and ground floor video screens added an element missing from past shows. Confetti littered the audience not once, but twice during the two-song encore.

Chuck P
Styx original bassist Chuck Panozzo

On Friday, Styx opened with fan favorites “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” “Grand Illusion,” “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),” and “Lady” before diving back in time performing “Light Up” for the first time in Oregon since the 1970s, according to guitarist and sometimes singer James “J.Y” Young. “Light Up” is the first tract off 1975’s Equinox and showed off classic Styx harmony. It’s a welcome addition to the tour.

The band only played 13 songs but the show was a solid 90 minutes and many songs, which already register well-past the four minute mark, received added solos and extended plays that offered a different approach to their regular roadshow. Keyboardist and singer Lawrence Gowen threw in a great organ-esque solo on “I’m O.K.” and “Too Much Time on my Hands” benefitted from a solid band jam.

Tommy Shaw, some-of-the-time singer and all-the-time guitarist performed solidly throughout the evening and was in fine form for the emotive “Man in the Wilderness” and there were probably a few tears in the audience when it was just Shaw, his vocals and acoustic guitar opening the finely penned “Crystal Ball.” It remains a Styx classic.

Young grabbed vocal duties for “Miss America” a straight-up hard rock song about the fickle nature of fame and while the album version can come across a little stale now, more than 35 years later, the live performance, especially with Young’s biting guitar solo explains why it stays in the set. Styx played five of eight songs from their iconic 1997 album The Grand Illusion.

Styx Bass
Styx bassist Ricky Phillips

Styx last released an album of new material 10 years ago and there doesn’t seem to be plans to write a new one. Their concerts always bring energy and great musicianship but their predictability is overly evident for anyone who has experienced a show in the last five or so years.

Gowen always introduces one of Styx’s best songs and one of the all-time greatest rock songs by playing snippets of songs from other bands like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and even Elton John. It’s not a stretch to say “Come Sail Away” easily stands on its own and Styx would be better off adding one of their own songs instead of wasting time playing other band’s songs.

Gowan
Styx keyboardist and singer Lawrence Gowen

Regardless, the Styx lineup remains consistent with the addition of Gowan who permanently replaced Dennis DeYoung in 1999, bassist Ricky Phillips who joined in 2003 and drummer Todd Sucherman now nearing 20 years with Styx. Original bassist and founding member Chuck Panozzo makes occasional appearances and played on “Fooling Yourself,” “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade” which closed-out the Friday set. Panozzo has battled health issues for years.

The venue at Chinook Winds is a bit uncomfortable and initially took some of the fun away from the evening. Much of the audience is placed around banquet style tables forcing people to arrange their seats in a manner not conducive to a rock show. Styx felt more like post-meal entertainment at a wedding or some other function.

But once those classic Styx songs get rolling it just becomes all about the music.

Saturday Update: What a difference sitting in the fourth row makes as opposed to the banquet tables at this venue. Styx rocked this show. The band switched out “I’m O.K.” with “Pieces of Eight” and gave another solid performance to the second full house in a row..

Styx Chinook Winds Friday Setlist:

1. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
2. The Grand Illusion
3. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
4. Lady
5. Light Up
6. Man in the Wilderness
7. Miss America
8. I’m O.K.
9. Crystal Ball
10. Too Much Time on My Hands
11. Come Sail Away
12. Rockin’ the Paradise
13. Renegade

Styx Chinook Winds Saturday Setlist:

1. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
2. The Grand Illusion
3. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
4. Lady
5. Light Up
6. Man in the Wilderness
7. Miss America
8. Crystal Ball
9. Pieces of Eight
10. Too Much Time on My Hands
11. Come Sail Away
12. Rockin’ the Paradise
13. Renegade

Written By: AndrewT

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