Some bands seem to get better with age. Chicago rock veterans, Styx would fall into that category in spades. And the band finds time to hit Casino Rama Resort on an almost yearly schedule. This past Friday and Saturday night saw them play another pair of sold-out shows at the Central Ontario concert mecca. Coming off the release of their brand new studio concept album called The Mission, released in June 2017, the group shows no signs of slowing their rigorous touring regimen.
Opening the show with their latest single “Gone Gone Gone”, the band wasted no time introducing the new material to the room. A scorching, guitar-heavy, old school anthem, showcasing the band’s 4 part harmonies that everyone knows and loves got the show off with a bang. Original member James “JY” Young and mid-1970’s band addition Tommy Shaw traded their guitar licks and butter smooth vocals like it was 1977 all over again on mega hits “Blue Collar Man” and “The Grand Illusion”. The set was longer than their usual 18 or so songs by 4 at the Friday show. JY mentioned that they were particularly fond of Canada, as it was the first place where their 1975 album Equinox gained traction with hits such as “Suite Madame Blue” and “Lorelei”, which they included in the set.
Vocalist/keyboardist and Ontario native Lawrence Gowan has been a bonafide solid replacement for original singer Dennis DeYoung for nearly 20 years. He brings his flamboyant stage style complete with signature dance moves using his swivelling keyboard stand, often playing it backwards. Gowan uses his time mid-set to play a solo medley of classic rock hits. In a fitting tribute to the loss of The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, Gowan added a rousing version of their Canadian anthem “Courage” to the Beatles and Queen tunes he’s been playing on this tour. The band also added a cover of “Free Falling” from Tom Petty.
Founding member Chuck Panozzo who has HIV/AIDS joins the band on select dates and songs on those dates to add his signature bass parts to their extensive nearly 50-year-old catalog of work on his vintage black and white Rickenbacker 4001. Longtime bassist Ricky Phillips would add another layer of guitar, sometimes on a double neck, while Panozzo was onstage. Drummer Todd Sucherman, who’s been pounding the skins with Styx since they reformed in 1995, was tucked in behind his monster kit, reminiscent of the bigger-is-better kits of decades ago.
Standouts from the show were the four new tracks from the new album, which are very Styx and very good. Give that new material a listen. It’s a worthy addition to their other work. The old standards “Come Sail Away”, “Renegade” and “Rockin’ the Paradise” closed out the nearly 2 solid hour set complete with confetti and streamer cannons along with the band signing fan memorabilia from the front of the stage after the show. The Saturday night show at Casino Rama was the last show on the tour before it continues on December 28th in Tulsa, OK.
01. Gone Gone Gone
02. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
03. The Grand Illusion
04. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
06. Radio Silence
08. Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty cover)
09. Crystal Ball
10. Miss America
11. The Outpost
12. Suite Madame Blue
13. Fooling Yourself
14. A Criminal Mind (Gowan song)
15. Too Much Time On My Hands
17. Courage (The Tragically Hip cover)
18. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
19. Golden Slumbers (The Beatles cover)
20. Come Sail Away
21. Rockin’ The Paradise