–By Sean Derrick
Saint Louis rock fans are a loyal bunch, and they have their favorites, a listing of artists that among other attributes put on a consistently good show. Among those favorites is the rock band STYX. For many in the Gateway City what better way to spend a summer evening in Saint Louis than watching STYX fuel the air with timeless classic rock favorites outside under the stars?
That is exactly what fans in Saint Louis did Saturday night at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre as STYX came to town with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Tesla in tow.
Coming off a successful co-headlining tour last year with REO Speedwagon, STYX wanted to continue with that momentum and found Tesla and Joan Jett to round out this year’s ticket.
STYX is continuing to headline in support of their latest release The Mission, a splendid concept album that harkens back to the band’s heyday of the late 70’s/early 80’s. It is their best release since 1981’s Paradise Theater, and if you haven’t given it a listen, you should.
Vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw appears to never age, and neither does his voice as he was in top form throughout the night. The same can be said for keyboardist extraordinaire/vocalist Lawrence Gowan who showed off his skills tickling the ivories from multiple angles on his swirling keyboard stand.
Original member guitarist James “JY” Young was solid as he rocked out to “Miss America” as the rhythm section of drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips rounded out the band in fine fashion.
They ran through a setlist that went by way too fast (as in “we are having fun where did the time go?”). The setlist was largely the same as last year’s set, save for the addition of two songs: “The Outpost” and “Mr. Roboto” which before this tour hadn’t been played in it’s entirety in 35 years.
I have seen STYX perform live eight times now, and if I had to list only one positive about their live shows it is consistency. Over and over again you know if you go to a STYX show you will get a great rock show filled with timeless classics from a vast catalogue that spans 46 years.
What this band has achieved (a #1 song, 8 – top 10 singles, including top 10 singles in three different decades, a feat very few acts have accomplished, 8 more Top 40 singles, 5 multi platinum albums, and seven other albums that went either gold or platinum.) it is head scratching why this band isn’t already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Snobby critics who assail acts like STYX as being too cheesy don’t allow themselves to have enough fun to just sit back and truly enjoy what STYX has created. They point specifically to “Mr. Roboto” and claim that is the reason the band is not in. However, that reasoning should be thrown out the window with the recent induction of ELO, a band that had somewhat similar success, but was waaaaay more campy in their songs.
I applaud STYX for taking the bull by the horns and embracing a song that was panned by stuffy critics (for the wrong reasons) and some fans who wanted the band to stay true to their prog-rock roots, and owned the song.
The song has a more modern feel to it today as it lives in the moment more so than some futuristic piece from a (some would say “ill conceived”) rock opera at the time of its release in the early 1980’s. Its presentation was straight forward, with no special gimmicks or production efforts needed. Just the bare song. And it worked, because it was kept to the simple no frills approach, focusing on the intricacies of the arraignment, and the realization with the varying modulation and structure that it is a pretty good prog-rock song in and of itself. As long as it is kept away from the theatrical idea that got he song panned in the first place the song itself should not be panned but embraced and shoved down the Rock Hall’s throat for putting in ELO ahead of STYX.
Whether you love STYX or hate them there is no denying their ability to put on a top notch live show. And seeing them consistently put on a top notch show with the plethora of hits at their ready true STYX fans must wonder the same thing regarding the Rock Hall and a band like ELO. When is it STYX’s turn?
Tesla opened the show with a 40 minute set that rocked almost as hard as when I first photographed them on their first tour in 1987. Selections like “Modern Day Cowboy” threw me back to memories I had as a teen when I first heard this band and quickly wanted to emulate them in air band contests, with the dual attack guitars and scorching vocals. I couldn’t get enough. Sunday I found myself doing air guitar solos again during their set, closing my eyes and drifting back to a simpler time.
Joan Jett gave a solid support act set. Even though she needs to update her wardrobe (this isn’t 1982 anymore), her voice was solid and the Blackhearts were tight in their presentation.
Stay past the setlists for more photos from the show
Gone Gone Gone
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
The Grand Illusion
Rockin’ the Paradise
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Too Much Time on My Hands
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
Come Sail Away
I Wanna Live
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
What You Give
Signs (Five Man Electrical Band cover)
Little Suzi (Ph.D. cover)
Modern Day Cowboy