For practically every night of his adult life, Tommy Shaw has sung the lines “is it any wonder I’m not the president?” from “Too Much Time On My Hands,” but when he delivered them to a sold out Genesee Theatre in Waukegan just two days after a practically unreal election, faithful roared so loud he could’ve very well been an actual contender for the job. Stranger things have certainly happened as of late, though the current edition of Styx didn’t come back to town with an agenda other than to deliver a double act evening comprised of revved up rockers, deep cuts and covers.
While it may be a frigid day on the mythological river to the underworld before classic-era members ever bury the hatchet, the fact that both factions continue to resonate with multiple generations further begs the question when Styx will get its long overdue consideration from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Nowadays, the group is co-led by singers/guitarists Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young, who along with co-singer/keyboard player Lawrence Gowan, bassist Ricky Phillips (The Babys, Bad English) and Todd Sucherman, have been the longest running line-up since 1999’s dramatic schism with Dennis DeYoung (more on that later). And considering this was a homecoming show of shorts for what began as a south side band, fellow co-founding bassist Chuck Panozzo also appeared for a handful of the 22 tunes that found the fellas finally hovering right around the two hour mark (as opposed to a festival or opening act slot).
Although loyalists to Shaw/J.Y. and DeYoung (who’s responsible for seven of the band’s eight top ten hits) will likely always battle over the best version, Styx in its present form operated as an undeniably well-oiled machine with literally millions of miles logged on the road. In fact, anything presented that these specific members initiated was pure gold, whether it was the seemingly ageless Shaw’s “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” and “Crystal Ball” or Young’s bellowing beginnings to “Snowblind” and the entire “Miss America.”
As for Gowan singing DeYoung’s “The Grand Illusion,” “Lady,” “Come Sail Away” (to name but a few), he simply didn’t sound enough like the man behind them all (unlike Mr. Roboto’s dead-ringer replacement for Shaw), nor did his personal spin on any of them even remotely compete with the iconic originals. Instead, this natural showman’s greatest strength came behind the keys (particularly on the classically-inspired solo piece “The Khedive”), while vocally he appeared strongest assisting Shaw on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and channeling Freddie Mercury on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (not that either of those have much to do with Styx).
Nonetheless, the group did dive pretty deep into its catalogue, surely pleasing longtime listeners with “Man In The Wilderness,” “Lights” and a few others, while still keeping the tone familiar enough for the radio crowd with additional anthems such as “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Renegade.” While it may be a frigid day on the mythological river to the underworld before classic-era members ever bury the hatchet, the fact that both factions continue to resonate with multiple generations only further begs the question when Styx will get its long overdue consideration from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Click here for more Styx photos from the Genesee Theatre.
For additional information on Styx, visit StyxWorld.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at the Genesee Theatre include Peter Cetera (Nov. 12); Ronnie Spector (Dec. 1); LeAnn Rimes (Dec. 2); Margaret Cho (Dec. 9); Kenny G (Dec. 15); Wizards Of Winter (Dec. 16); Plain White T’s (Dec. 28) and Morris Day & The Time (Dec. 29). For additional details, visit GeneseeTheatre.com.