Styx at the Warner Theatre was a unique experience. It was the first time they’ve played that venue in six years and only the second time overall. The show was designed as a seated show but that was never going to happen. Styx’s show is high energy and there were only a few times that the mood got light enough for the fans to even consider sitting down.
Opening up with “The Grand Illusion” set a high musical quality right from the start and I thought it was a brilliant choice to start with because, again, six years ago when they last played the Warner was The Grand Illusion / Pieces Of Eight tour when they played both records in their entirety. “Too Much Time On My Hands” killed and Styx brought out a special guest for “Fooling Yourself” in original bassist Chuck Panozzo. That was awesome because due to health reasons Chuck can’t tour with Styx on a regular basis and Ricky Phillips strapped on a double neck guitar during the song to continue playing on stage. Styx then moved into their first big crowd singalong, “Lady.” “Lorelei” and “Man In The Wilderness” followed and bridged up to Styx’s very stellar cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” Woooooo! “Light Up,” “Snowblind” and “Suite Madam Blue” brought the first set to a close.
When Styx returned to the stage after a twenty minute intermission, the real rocking started with “Miss America,” “Lights” and then a chilling version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Following “Crystal Ball,” vocalist and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan told a story about writing an instrumental piano piece as an introduction for “Pieces Of Eight,” and how he was playing it for his father who said it needed a name. That’s what led to the introduction’s title, “Khedive.” “Pieces of Eight” led to a ripping version of “Blue Collar Man” and was followed by a two-song cover duet featuring Lawrence and the audience that was deafening. The covers were Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which kept the blood pumping for “Come Sail Away” and the closing of the second set.
The encore was direct and right to the point in “Rockin’ The Paradise” and the kill shot that is, “Renegade” with Chuck returning to play bass.
Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young have done a stellar job with Styx over the years, making all the right choices. Their playing and vocals have never sounded sharper and are only that much more highlighted by Lawrence’s energy. Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucherman are at the top of their games and are the keys to the rhythm section of a band that is highly, musically superior to most of the bands today. It was a great show and an amazing experience.