Dennis DeYoung Plays The Music Of Styx at Mesa Arts Center

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Phoenix area fans of classic rock hit makers Styx began last weekend with a Fri. Aug. 11 show by former Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung who was in town not "Rockin' the Paradise," but rocking the Ikeda Theater at the Mesa Arts Center. And rock it he did as the show began with the triple whammy of hits "The Grand Illusion," "Lady" and "Lorelei."

DeYoung now sports a full head of white hair, and with his dapper dress looked very much the showman as he energetically strutted the stage, dancing, mugging with band members and playing air guitar. At one point in the show DeYoung asked who in the packed crowd was seeing him for the first time, and after lots of hands shot up he quipped, "I'm 70-years-old! Where the hell have you been?"

With the exception of the title cut from his mid-'80s solo album Desert Moon, every song that DeYoung played was a well-known Styx cut. While DeYoung sang most of the hits himself, on occasion he moved to keyboards while guitarist August "Augie" Zadra or guitarist Jim Leahy handled lead vocals; both replicated original vocals very nicely while also ripping it up on guitar.

Mid-set found the band playing "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," the quirky "Mr. Roboto" for which DeYoung brought out a "Killroy" head to dance around with, "Too Much Time on My Hands," "Miss America" and a spine-tingling take on "Crystal Ball." An especially touching moment came when DeYoung sang the Styx #1 hit "Babe," which the singer wrote for his wife of 47-years. Suzanne DeYoung sang back-up vocals for most of the show, but for "Babe" she came into the audience and sat in the first row so that Dennis could sing the song directly to her.

The show headed toward its finale with "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)," an acoustic guitar showcase for Leahy with "Prelude 12," "Suite Madam Blue" and "The Best of Times." Rather than leave the stage at that point, DeYoung told the crowd that the band was going to forego the whole encore lead-up, and they stayed to play "Renegade" and show closer "Come Sail Away," certainly appropriate as the audience had been taken on quite a journey.

DeYoung remains on tour; find upcoming dates here

Upcoming shows at the Mesa Arts Center include concerts from the Beach Boys (Sept. 17), Home Free (Oct. 25), Steep Canyon Rangers (Nov. 3) and a Christmas show from Dave Koz on Dec. 13. For a full list of upcoming events go here.

Dennis DeYoung Plays The Music Of Styx at Mesa Arts Center

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