As most people are preparing to put 2018 behind them and kick off a new year, STYX fans around the New Buffalo, MI area start off their big party weekend a couple of days early by attending the sold-out show at Four Winds Casino.
Although the new year’s parties don’t begin until Monday evening, a collection of STYX fans congregate at the Silver Creek Event Center inside the Four Winds Casino on Friday evening to celebrate with the progressive pop-rock band for another of their sold out shows.
Although the band has been in existence since 1972, it is evident of the band’s popularity by the diverse crowd at this evening’s show. The crowd is made up of all backgrounds of life and all ages ranging from grandparents to parents and their children’s children. Based on the popularity of the band, STYX continues to tour the globe averaging between 100 and 120 shows a year, and mostly to sold out venues like the Four Winds Casino this evening.
STYX is made up of; Tommy Shaw (acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin and vocals), James “JY” Young (electric guitar and vocals), Todd Sucherman (drums and percussion), Ricky Phillips (bass guitar and vocals), Lawrence Gowan (piano, organ, synthesizer and vocals) and on occasion, one of the last original founding members, Chuck Panozzo on bass guitar.
When the lights go down inside the auditorium and music begins to play throughout the speakers, the crowd immediately jumps up and begins to cheer as a mission control countdown is sounded off and appears on the video screens on stage. The band starts off with the initial single “Gone Gone Gone” from their latest futuristic studio album Mission To Mars. The song appears to be a perfect show opener as Lawrence commands to “get the show on the road.” The band continues to play right into “Blue Collar Man” with Tommy taking over on the vocals.
In between songs, Tommy hollers out “we’re having a rock show” as the band begins the “The Grand Illusion.” As the show has begun, the songs show how it was written and arranged to allow the band members to show off their musical licks and talents during their performances.
The four musicians up front (Lawrence, Ricky, James and Tommy) travel back and forth across the stage having fun with each other and showcasing in front of their fans while Todd keeps the steady beat and timing together back at mid-stage as he is tucked in and hidden behind the massive dual bass drum kit. As the song ends, the three guitar players are standing back to back of each other rocking back and forth in unison in front of Todd’s drum stage.
Lawrence fires up the crowd again when he plays the beginning notes to the band’s first national single, “Lady.” It sends the energy level through the roof with the timeless classic ballad while the crowd cheers and sings along.
As James takes his turn speaking into the microphone with his deep baritone voice, he comments of the song being the first single to take on national air-play. He then pleas to do the follow-up hit “Lorelei” as Lawrence once again begins the song by playing the popular notes on his synthesizer.
Tommy asks the crowd if they are having fun yet while the crowd once again responds in cheers. Speaking of the new year, he comments that we can start over with a new slate, so why not dirty this one up. He tells of James being in a mood, so watch out (with a grin on his face.) He mentions how the show began with Lawrence opening with a new song from the latest album The Mission, and how the album is futuristic and centered around the first space mission to the planet Mars in 2033. Giving another taste of the new album, Tommy plays “Radio Silence.”
James introduces Tommy as being a former Michigan resident where he spent some time in Niles, MI (approx. 25 miles east of the casino.) He then explains to the crowd that we are “Millennium Jumping” back and forth tonight. He describes how The Grand Illusion of 1977 is STYX’s biggest selling record of all times. To put the time in perspective, he tells that six million copies were sold with one million being on 8 track tape. James then asks Todd for some bass drum for the beginning of the side two hit “Miss America.”
With the stage black, Tommy stands all alone at center stage with a 12 string acoustic guitar. He jokes that from the energy being shown from the crowd, that everyone is in a mood tonight. He then claims that it is the Michigan air and everyone wants to rock tonight.
He comments on how he used to drive past New Buffalo a lot of times in his travels back and forth between Chicago and Michigan.
Tommy then speaks of a song he wrote back in 1975 for a band he was playing with in Montgomery, Alabama. He tells how James called him up one night and told him to come to Chicago and see if you are a fit for the band. Jokingly he remarks, “He still hasn’t told me if I fit in or not, but I think I have a pretty good shot.” Although the song wasn’t a STYX song, he reworked it and it finally fit in and became the title track to his first studio album Crystal Ball with the band. For tonight’s show, Tommy adds the hidden verse that he had to remove back in the day.
Lawrence sets the place upside down as he lashes out “From bowling balls of past to the crystal balls of the future, they better turn this place into the Paradise Theatre” as he begins “Rockin’ The Paradise.” With a top hat and glitter sparkled jacket, Lawrence slides back and forth across the stage like a ringleader to a circus or theater making it his own playground while dancing around feeding energy to the band and crowd as everyone sings along.
James hollers out “Berrien County Rules” and gets the crowd excited and cheering more. While Tommy introduces the band, he gives a special introduction to the last of the founding members of STYX, Chuck Panozzo on bass guitar. Chuck joins the band on stage for the 1978 hit “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).” As the song ends, Tommy raises his acoustic guitar high into the air and spins in a circle to the beat of the music.
As Lawrence approaches Tommy, Tommy complains that the evening’s setlist and time is flying by too fast and that he wants the evening to be half as far along as where it is now. Looking out, he asks if anyone has a time machine. He looks at Lawrence and tells him that we have that over there, pointing at his keyboards. The crowd comes to life as the notes on the synthesizer play out the beginning of the band’s anthem, “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Waving their hands in the air and clapping along to the beat, the crowd dances and sings along with the band.
With the band leaving the stage, Lawrence is alone at his keyboards for his own moment on stage. He plays a piano piece “Khedive” from The Mission with strong keystrokes before breaking into a Christmas medley.
After a snippet of the Queen cover “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Lawrence musically meshes into “Come Sail Away” while the crowd sings along with him as if to being part of a large choir. With the band joining him again on stage for the set’s last song, the crowd sways back and forth holding their loved ones and singing along to their childhood love rock ballad.
The band exits off stage while many in the crowd cheer and chant to call the band back out for an encore.
Lawrence returns to the stage and begins the preamble to “Mr Roboto,” the electronic futuristic sounds of STYX of 1983. As the band joins in, the crowds begin to bounce and dance at their seats to the beat of the music.
Tommy closes out the evening’s performance with a lament in “Renegade” that quickly explodes with the rest of the band joining him as confetti shoots out over top the crowd from canisters on each side of the stage.
At the conclusion of the song, the band members congregate at center stage and lock hands to bow for the crowd and give one last interaction before exiting the stage.
With the smiles and crowd interaction throughout the show’s performance, it is easily noticed that the band members of STYX enjoy being on stage and doing what they do. That is the reason this band is able to perform shows all year round and continue to sell out the venues each time they return.
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Event Date: 28-DEC-2018