Styx Presents a Master Class-Worthy Show at MGM Northfield
October 15th, 2019
Here's one of those perennial head scratchers that happens right around this time every year: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced their nominees for induction into the 2020 Class and, yep, once again Styx wasn't included. Thankfully, first-time nominees Pat Benatar and The Doobie Brothers got a nod and, hopefully, we'll see both of those acts give their speeches here in Cleveland in early May of next year.
So, eventually, it's a good bet that the Chicago-founded outfit, as well as their contemporaries Foreigner, will be enshrined in the museum on the southern shores of our Lake Erie. If last Thursday's show was any indication of the worthiness that the almost-fifty year old outfit has, then Styx deserves to be right next to The Beatles, Elvis, and, err, Janet Jackson.
Erstwhile "legacy" members Tommy Shaw on co-lead vocals and guitar, founding bassist Chuck Panazzo, and guitar slinger James "J.Y." Young, were joined by Lawrence Gowan (taking over most of the band's vocal duties, in shoes once filled by Dennis DeYoung), Ricky Phillips, formerly of The Babys and Bad English, on bass, and Todd Sucherman behind the kit. Interestingly, "newbie" Sucherman has been with the band since 1995 and, in 2009, was voted the "Number One Rock Drummer in the World," by Modern Drummer magazine.
Talk about a pedigree.
But we're actually talking about the whole outfit in the same vein. This is a group that can do this in their sleep. As a touring outfit, they've been doing this since the Nixon administration; their tunes are classic and the onstage camaraderie between the sextet really spills over into the audience. Call it good will, call it a finely-oiled machine, but whatever it is that keeps this outfit chugging along makes for a master class of what a modern concert should be.
They played the majority of the hits that made them FM staples in the late 1970s and the early '80s. Noticeably absent were two songs made popular and perhaps too endemic of DeYoung: The love-it-or-hate-it "Babe," and "The Best of Times." Otherwise, the majority of their catalog was present.
Touring largely in support of their newest album, 2017's The Mission, the band has been extensively making the rounds to rack up both album sales, and perhaps more significant, streams and downloads on digital platforms.
Relying heavily on the new album, five songs were played from that most-recent effort. Opening the show with "Gone, Gone, Gone," Shaw and company really let the crowd know that Styx was still here and a very viable musical presence well into the twenty-first century.
While frontman Gowan may be a late-in-the-game replacement for DeYoung, he's been able to erase much of the memory of the old frontman; his vocals sound much like DeYoung's voice, but he's been able to add his own flair and prowess to the old tunes.
Offering a twenty-tune set, the almost-hundred minute show came to an end with, what else?, but a kick ass version of "Mr. Roboto" and Shaw's opus, "Renegade."
It was a fantastic performance from a band that has, sadly, been snubbed by the Rock Hall committee. But the fans didn't care; every time Styx comes to the 216 they sell out.
Photos and Review by Brian M. Lumley