by Scott Roos
pics by Deanna Roos Photography
The “Grand Illusion” became a "bold reality" Saturday, Oct. 15th as classic rockers Styx celebrated 50 years in the business with a career spanning set in Saskatoon. Performing a series of songs chock full of the campy, theatrical, riff rock that audiences have come to love throughout their storied career as a band, Styx was also able to dazzle with first rate visual effects. Essentially, the band was visually AND sonically on point for this show.
“There's nothing like a great rock show. It’s the greatest form of entertainment that I've ever known. And what it does for people and what it does for us is just so fantastic you really can't overstate it quite honestly,” Styx vocalist Lawrence Gowan told NSMZ in an interview the week prior to the show.
In general, this seems to be almost a mantra for the band. They come out to put on as great a rock show as they possibly can and it shows in the overall product. Honestly, it sounds cliche to say this, but Styx, if using this show as a primary example, puts in 110% effort when they come out to perform. There’s no other way to state it.
Musically, they were just as sharp as they have ever been with guitarists Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young ripping through solos that could only be described as “shredtastic”. Drummer Todd Sucherman crashed and bashed with such ease that he may be, in a dark horse kind of way, one of the best unsung hero rock drummers out there. Bassist Ricky Phillips capably held up his role in the rhythm section, sometimes surrendering his spot to original bassist Chuck Panozzo, and sometimes sharing the stage with him (it was great to see Panozzo up there doing his thing too!). Recent acquisition, guitarist Will Evankovich, was there albeit more subtle in his approach than the other guys but his instrument, when added to the mix, was well placed. And let’s not forget about Gowan himself whose masterful keyboard work was a sight to behold.
Vocally the band exceeded expectations as well. There’s many “classic” outfits out there still performing whose vocals have faded with time and age. Styx is not one of these bands. Their harmonies were crisp and tuneful. Lead vocals were spot on with what you’d expect to hear off of studio records. HOLY SHIT do these guys still ever have “it”.
In short, Styx is still, after 50 years of doing their thing, a fun, entertaining and essential live act not to be missed when coming to your city or town.
Other random highlights:
It was super cool hearing some of the band’s newer stuff from Crash of the Crown. It fits in well with the classic stuff. The new stuff proves the band can still write new material that is vital to their genre
Gowan is a consummate performer. Prancing and dancing across the stage with the energy and vigor of much younger performers, he is captivating to watch. Also hearing "A Criminal Mind" live with Styx backing it up was super cool
The performance of “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”, “Come Sail Away”, “Too Much Time On My Hands” were awesome
I marked out hard for “Mr. Roboto”. Sorry to all the fans that still see the song as divisive. My generation was introduced to the band with this track and it was an iconic hit when it came out. I love it and danced and sang along through the whole song.