By Glenn Woodell
If Styx is coming near you, just go see them!
I was talking to one of the other music photographers after the show and we both agreed that the older bands put on more of a show and less of a series of songs than do so many of the newer bands. This was definitely the case with Styx. The sound quality was so good that their songs closely resembled the albums of yesteryear. They played all their riffs like we all remembered them on vinyl and tape. Their vocals lacked so much of the embellishments that have become too familiar with most artists today who have sung the same songs hundreds of time. It was so rewarding to essentially hear an album performed live.
Tommy Shaw showed as much enthusiasm for the crowd as they did for him as he wooed them right at the front edge of the stage for most of the night. His performance of Crystal Ball on the electric 12-string brought the packed house to their feet. He told the story of how he wrote the song, in the shower, for another band before he joined Styx but by then the original ending had been dropped. For this show he played the original ending as an added bonus to an already iconic song.
Those who thought they’d miss Dennis DeYoung on vocals and his stage antics were not disappointed with Lawrence Gowan who seems to have filled those boots to the brim. At one point he did a little Freddy Mercury tribute by playing a sing along with the crowd to Bohemian Rhapsody. And like Shaw, he gave personal attention to the front as well.
The show was a logistical nightmare for everyone, including the photographers who were provided no pit from which to shoot but rather had to fend for themselves in the crowd while trying not to get in the way of those who had paid for their tickets.
It was originally booked to be held at the amphitheater in Portsmouth but due to the fabric roof having been destroyed during a hurricane the previous year, and still not been replaced, Chrysler Hall in downtown Norfolk was chosen as a replacement. Everyone was packed like sardines and the photo pit gave way to folding chairs.
Based on the theme of their current album, The Mission, there was lots to be seen both in the stage décor and the clothing of the band members. Gowan and Shaw both wore patches based on those of NASA’s space missions and Gowan’s hot blue jacket was even adorned with a NASA “meatball” patch.
The show consisted of two sets separated by a 25-minute intermission. The show ended with an encore of the classic hits, Mr. Roboto and Renegade.
Even with all the confusion that came with the change in venues, I think it would have been very hard to find anyone who was disappointed in any aspect of this show.