Monday, March 3, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Styx - Melbourne, FL (2.28.14)

(Photos: Christopher Long)
STYX
Maxwell C. King Center
Melbourne, FL 
(2.28.14)
_____________________________

I was fascinated by how the
mere sight of Tommy Shaw
onstage in tight pants could 
cause so many Florida rocker 
moms to lose their minds!
_____________________________

I've experienced numerous live Styx performances in various bi-coastal locales since 2000. From younger fans to older, both guys and gals, the reaction always is the same — complete pandemonium. And tonight's show in Melbourne, Florida was no exception.

Possessing countless rivets protruding along the edges of metallic ramps and risers, the band's clean, yet intense-looking stage set projected all of the warm fuzziness of an army tank ratcheting into a war zone. And the iconic Styx logo emblazoned across the gigantic curtain looming from the back of the stage served as a military-type flag claiming their territory. Clearly, there would be NO other band performing on this stage tonight.

Founding Styx guitarist,
James "J.Y." Young.
Like giddy tweens at a Bieber meet-and-greet, a fervent flock of female fans representing the graduating high school classes of '80-'85, stormed to the front of the King Center stage — all at the precise instant that you know who stepped into view.

Kicking off the festivities with a fistful of fan faves, including "The Grand Illusion," "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Fooling Yourself" and the timeless power ballad, "Lady," Styx set the stage for a bona fide barn burner. For two solid hours, the band carved out non-stop arena rock anthems from their platinum-selling catalog — and they did it without F-bombs or any other lowbrow banter that would compromise the integrity of their music or distract from their world-class performance.

Styx co-founder, bassist Chuck Panozzo.
The onstage chemistry between perennial guitarists James Young and Tommy Shaw is unique — given their near 40-year partnership. And when combined with the undeniable swagger of veteran rock stalwart, bassist Ricky Phillips, the Styx frontline was unstoppable. "If it seems like we like each other," Shaw confessed to the 2,200 faithful, "it's because we really do."

Another cool aspect of the evening was that the current Styx line-up is comprised of multiple engaging storytellers who each added their own flavor to the show. From Young waxing nostalgic about the Ford administration during his intro for "Light Up" to Shaw's recollections regarding his early songwriting experiences while playing bowling alleys in Alabama during his "Crystal Ball" intro to vocalist / keyboardist Lawrence Gowan offering his personal and profound life philosophies, the charismatic frontmen each connected easily with the sold-out King Center crowd.

LAWRENCE GOWAN
"Everything happens for a
reason. Sometimes it's
because you're stupid and
you made bad decisions."
-Lawrence Gowan

RICKY PHILLIPS
It also was a concert packed with deep cut highlights, including "Superstars" (1977), "I'm Okay" (1978) and "Boat on the River" (1979), featuring Shaw on mandolin and Young on acoustic guitar.

As the band's line-up has evolved over the years, one thing has become crystal clear — musical hacks DON'T get gigs in Styx. Simply put, current drummer, Todd Sucherman, is a badass and it was thrilling to watch him punish those Pearls tonight. Traditional grip!

But the most golden highlight of the night was founding bassist Chuck Panozzo joining the band for several of their best-loved classics, including the turbo-charged encore of "Rockin' the Paradise" and "Renegade." Bravo! (StyxWorld.com)

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)


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