After 4 decades, Styx isn’t phone’n it in— they’re kick’n it in
I‘ve recently had the opportunity to photograph/attended several shows on the casino concert circuit. The “Casino Tour” usually features rock bands or personalities that have, for one reason or another, faded from current pop culture. They still draw their core fans, casual fans, and rock and roll music lovers of all kinds. They pack in the 1500 to 5000 seat venues across the U.S.
Since attending some of these shows, it has became easier to tell when an artist is just performing on instinct. They are just going through the paces and phone’n it in. Then you have the artists who really ‘bring it’ ALL. Those are the ones who show the joy they still get while playing their music to a live crowd. They still have that incredible drive to get their audience pumped, regardless of the venue or size of the crowd.
This past Friday (February 10, 2017), my travels gave me to the opportunity to catch one of these shows at the First Council 7 Clans Casino in Newkirk, Oklahoma. The band was Styx…
I could give you the whole page run down of Styx history since forming in Chicago in the early 70’s. I could throw in stats about four consecutive albums The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theater all certified Multi-Platinum releases or chart topping singles such as, “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade” , “Blue Collar Man”, “Fooling Yourself” and “Too Much Time on My Hands” or I could write about them being one of the bands that helped create Arena Rock in the late 70’s and 80’s.
I decided to go simple though with the hope that my photos tell the story.
THE BAND– Styx features James “JY” Young on Guitar & Vocals, Tommy Shaw on Guitar & Vocals, Todd Sucherman on Drums since 95′, Lawrence Gowan on Keyboard & Vocals since 99′ and Ricky Phillips formally of The Babys, Bad English, and Coverdale/Page on bass since 2003.
I was wondering if this would be one of those shows where the musicians just stand on their spot on the stage and play…::yawn::.. I couldn’t have been more wrong in the case of Styx.
The long-time consistent lineup shows in their live performance. Not only capable of playing perfect live versions of their songs, but also with a glaring stage presence and precise showmanship. These guys interacted with the audience and each other throughout the entire show. They were all over the stage and above it..(stage riser behind the drums).
Lawrence Gowan’s energy and showmanship shined through, especially with his near acrobatic motions on his rotating keyboard setup. James “JY” Young interacts with crowd between songs, constantly encouraging (and getting) crowd participation.
“Alright!!! …. Red State Oklahoma, (cheers) Don’t want to get into politics, All I know.. Is the one thing that can bring people together is the power of music” — James “JY” Young
Leading up to the show I read a quote from Tommy Shaw, “Practice. When it stops being fun, stop.” …. Well, he must be doing a lot of practicing these days. It sure looks like he’s having a lot of fun.
Shaw is probably the most recognizable face of Styx and has always had a“Rock Star” presence. Most of the show, Shaw was bouncing around the stage blaring riffs on his Les Paul guitars and thrilling the crowd. His energy is contagious.
Some bands are great studio musicians, some are great live performers. When you get both together it makes for a special show. Styx can bring both. I’m grateful I went into this not knowing what to expect. Getting blown away in such a fashion is inspiring. “Look at these guys still kicking ass… I can probably do better too :)”
If you get a chance to see Styx live. Do it..It’s worth the price of admission and I’ll bet you’ll agree.. Styx isn’t Phone’n it in…
Styx Fun Fact- Their 1981 Paradise Theater became the bands biggest selling album, loosely based on the rise and fall of a once-beautiful theater. Rumor has it that it was used as a metaphor for the political climate of the United States around the time of its release — the Iranian hostage crisis, the Cold War, Carter, Reagan, etc…
What’s the deal with Styx and the Pittsburgh Steelers?
The love for “Renegade” at all Steelers games started at a playoff game against the Cleveland Browns on January 5, 2002. The Steelers were down 24–7 well into the third quarter. During a commercial break, a crew member at Heinz Field (home of the Steelers) decided to play “Renegade” in an effort to get the fans riled up and boost the momentum of the team. It was a moment that helped the team come back to win the game 36–33 and subsequently change Steelers history. Now, during the third quarter of Steelers home games, a video compilation of defensive plays are shown with “Renegade” playing in the background.
Postscript— I’ve spent the time researching, looking over the list of inductees….Can someone please explain to me why Styx is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
LOS ANGELES (Feb. 16, 2017) — Rock legends REO SPEEDWAGON and STYX, along with very special guest star DON FELDER — formerly of the Eagles — will join forces for the “United We Rock” U.S. summer tour, which kicks off in Ridgefield, WA on June 20. Produced by Live Nation, tickets for various cities will go on sale starting February 24. For more information please visit … http://styxworld.com/news/438538/united-we-rock-u-s-summer-tour or social media links below.
See ya on the road — — Safe Travels!
Twitter — Michael Young
Freelance, Music, Travel & Lifestyle Photographer and contributor on Artist Waves