When Styx released its very first home video to accompany the album Caught In The Act in 1984, it was only available by mail order from A&M Records. This was the live video and accompanying album from the Kilroy Was Here tour of the previous year. Being an avid Styx fan, who saw that very tour at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, I had to have it.
After weeks of waiting, it finally came. The standard definition VHS copy was everything I thought it would be – complete with the Kilroy Was Here mini-movie. To me, nothing lived up to that magical moment, except for the news that Styx was releasing a live DVD of the albums Grand Illusion and Pieces Of Eight in their entirety. These albums are the heart of why many of us took Styx into our hearts in the first place and this DVD is a great companion.
As funny as it might sound, I love that short little Kilroy Was Here mini-movie and thought that they would never be able to meet my high expectations since neither of these albums had such a crazy or elaborate a concept. To my surprise, the DVD opens with a short mini-film that shows a music fan in the 70s going to his record player and selecting an album to play. Of course, he chooses The Grand Illusion album. And that’s when the fun begins.
This DVD brings back the excitement of the original albums and includes several songs that the band has never played live – very deep album cuts. The most prominent feature of the live recordings is that we’re seeing the new version of the band with vocalist Larry Gowan. But much like any Styx concert in the past 14 years, Gowan is as much a part of the band and its history as Dennis DeYoung was. Gowan gives the DeYoung songs an honest treatment.
It’s great watching the band perform such album favourites as Superstar, Great White Hope, I’m OK and Queen of Spades. Those two albums are also full of hits that we’ll never forget, like Come Sail Away, Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man), Renegade and Blue Collar Man. The songs are performed with precision and grace and performed as close to the originals as they need to be.
Watching The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live shows how talented the band really is and how timeless these two albums from 1977 and 1978 really are. If this DVD is any indication on how well the latest version of Styx plays together, then I’m up for a new album. I’m OK with that.