Photos by Dan Savoie
Red Robinson Show Theatre
Feb. 4, 2012
With a set list that sounded much like a greatest hits album, the modern-day version of Styx pulled into the Red Robinson Theatre this past week for a powerhouse performance filled with energy, pizzazz and a whole lotta rock.
This critic has seen many shows over the years, including three different eras of Styx, but this night at the Red Robinson felt like a band that was really enjoying what it was doing and they sounded like the Styx we had come to remember. Yet it wasn’t the same band that featured Dennis DeYoung and the late John Panozzo that performed at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto on the Kilroy Was Here Tour, nor was it the same band that played it’s first ever show with Canadian lead vocalist Larry Gowan at Lulu’s in Kitchener in 1999. It was, however, the tightest and most balls out version of the band yet.
Despite an obvious deletion of several classic DeYoung tracks like The Best of Times, Babe, Show Me The Way and Mr. Roboto, to name a few, the show felt more modern and less theatric than the big stadium show of the 80s. It actually felt as if those songs (minus the Best of Times) were surprisingly unnecessary and they may have actually deterred the pace too much if they were left in. This Styx – with Larry Gowan, Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and original bassist Chuck Panozzo – made the music more organic and less electronic than any other version of the band.
Opening with a spirited rendition of the Tommy Shaw classic Blue Collar Man, the band plowed its way through a series of big 70s hits ending with JY singing the Equinox classic Lorelei. This is when the new “organic” Styx came out. The group performed a very grounded mid-set round-up that began with the only album filler of the night, Man In The Wilderness, followed by Crystal Ball, a less electric sounding version of Gowan’s solo hit A Criminal Mind and Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) – when Chuck came out to play bass for the first time that night. The band then continued its way through the hits, ending the show with the encores Rockin’ The Paradise and Renegade.
Of the three versions of Styx that this critic has seen, the 80s Styx was the most theatrical and grand of the bunch; the early Gowan show was special because it was his first and it was also the only time I ever had a chance to see short-term member Glen Burtnik play with the band. The 2012 version of the band, however, was the tightest and happiest I had ever seen them. Tommy, JY and Chuck seemed to be having the time of their lives and enjoying themselves more than they did at the 80s Kilroy show. This is the band that should be recording new music and continuing to deliver the best of times…