Right after Dennis DeYoung finished “Mr. Roboto” during his inaugural appearance at the Star Plaza Theatre (not all that far from his old south side of Chicago stomping grounds) the closeted Kilroy said he never expected the song to be a single, let alone an all out smash. The Styx starter/primary singer and band’s most prolific songwriter turned solo star also joked that having at least 20 more of that commercially successful caliber would be nice, after which a fan shouted out “you do,” supported by the applause of a couple thousand fellow appreciators.
By the time the rebellious “Renegade” and the all out anthem “Come Sail Away” rolled around, DeYoung unequivocally blew away the current incarnation of Styx and also topped any previous editions of his past individual outings.
Actually, that number of timeless tunes may have been an understatement because even after a two hour and ten minute marathon, the man behind seven of Styx’s eight top ten hits still didn’t get to everything, but nonetheless gave a generous helping of all the main courses alongside a few rarities. He also brought along a world class band comprised of guitarist/vocalist August Zadra, guitarist Jimmy Leahey, keyboardist John Blasucci, bassist Craig Carter and drummer Michael Morales, while making it a family affair with wife Suzanne on background vocals and son Matthew as the show’s lighting designer (who pumped some serious steroids beyond 2014’s already colorful “Live In Los Angeles” DVD).
Whether it was DeYoung’s rousing openers “The Grand Illusion,” “Lady” and “Lorelei” or the Zadra’s dead-ringer take on the Tommy Shaw-led “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Crystal Ball,” everyone was on fire and overflowing with passion for the one of classic rock’s richest canons. Despite the headliner having recently turned 69, he surprisingly maintained the energy of a man at least half his age, while that signature voice sounded exactly like it did on the records (some of which date back more than 40 years).
An acoustic rendition of “Don’t Let It End” gave DeYoung a stripped down setting to show off such pitch perfect preservation, though later, his ability to hold a climatic note for about a minute during the progressive rocker “Suite Madame Blue” was nothing short of superhuman. Come “The Best Of Times,” everyone was on their feet singing just as loud as the leader, and outside of perhaps Styx’s “Return To Paradise” reunion, its title was an ideal description for the latter era of his storied career.
By the time the rebellious “Renegade” and the all out anthem “Come Sail Away” rolled around, DeYoung unequivocally blew away the current incarnation of Styx and also topped any previous editions of his past individual outings. And if you’re reading this Tommy and JY, be sure to either step up the brand’s game (and play for at least two hours), or better yet, give the guy who built the more than 50 million album selling empire from the ground up a call before its too late.
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For additional information on Dennis DeYoung, visit DennisDeYoung.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at Star Plaza Theatre include Joe Bonamassa (May 14); Jennifer Hudson (June 4); “Weird Al” Yankovic (July 3) and Killer Queen (July 23). For additional details, visit StarPlazaTheatre.com.