"Let's get this show on the road!" Those lyrics come from the Styx song "Gone Gone Gone," the cut that the band opened their show with at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on Friday, Jan. 10. The intimate theater in-the-round, with its unique rotating stage, is one of Styx's all-time favorite venues and they chose Celebrity Theatre for a two-night stand to open their 2020 tour.
Styx's music, an intricate mix of progressive rock and hook-filled pop stylings, has been thrilling fans and selling millions of albums for more than four decades. And while the group has endured member changes in the past, the current line-up has been stable for a very long time and the benefits of that show in their performance, both in stellar musicianship and the way the guys interact on stage. Styx is Tommy Shaw on guitar and vocals, James "JY" Young on guitar and vocals, Lawrence Gowan on keyboards and vocals, Todd Sucherman on drums and Ricky Phillips on bass. Additionally, founding member Chuck Panozzo makes occasional guest appearances as he did on a couple of songs this evening.
The show was broken into two sets and both were heavy with hits; "Blue Collar Man" and "Grand Illusion" came early, and for "Lady" Gowan took the opportunity to flirt with women in the first few rows, giving some of them a real thrill as he momentarily sang the love song just for them. Gowan is by far the most animated member of the band, dancing around the stage, playing his keyboard-on-a-swivel behind his back and climbing atop equipment cases to sing from a king-of-the-hill perspective. "Radio Silence" from the band's 2017 release The Mission was played as was "Snowblind" from the smash hit Paradise Theater album. In reference to the The Mission concept album, Young mused aloud about whether a manned mission to Mars was even possible. Answering his own question with a loud "yes," he then got a laugh by pointing to the audience and saying "you first!" "Light Up," "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)," "Rockin' the Paradise," and "Suite Madame Blue" finished the first set, with Panozzo joining for "Fooling Yourself" to issue some bone-rattling bass lines.
The second set began after a 20-minute intermission and the band delved right into "Miss America" where Young and Shaw traded off on vocals, with Young playing an especially-inspired guitar solo. Shaw switched to acoustic guitar for the soaring, harmony-filled "Crystal Ball" which was followed by "Pieces of Eight," another The Mission cut in "The Outpost" and the big hit "Too Much Time on My Hands." Alone on stage, Gowan played an instrumental piano solo that was full of energy but he ended his spotlight on a sad but reverential note as he played and sang a couple verses of the Rush song "Limelight" to honor Rush drummer Neil Peart who had passed away earlier in the day. The band, including Panozzo, returned to the stage for a rousing version of closing song "Come Sail Away" that included a big dramatic flourish for its finish. A two-song encore featured "Mr. Roboto" and the appropriately rowdy "Renegade." The crowd offered an adoring standing ovation, and no doubt some lucky fans were already looking forward to coming back for more fun the next night.
Some of the shows coming to Celebrity Theatre are:
Jan. 25 - Patton Oswalt
Jan. 31 - The Alan Parsons Live Project
Feb. 29 - Lou Gramm with Asia
March 20 - Gladys Knight
Apr. 14 - The Monkees
Apr. 15 - Tesla
Apr. 16 - Tony Bennett
For a complete list of shows coming to Celebrity Theatre go here.
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