Errols Weekly Music Update.

October 29, 2010

Concert Review: Styx at The Beacon Theater on Oct. 28, 2010

Concert Review: Styx at the Beacon Theater on Thurs. Rocktober 28, 2010

When is the last time that you went “back in time?” Traveling back to a place-where you didn’t know it at the time- that defined a part of your existence. Back to a period when things were simpler, when life seemed to be less chaotic than it is today. Sometimes in life you never know how much you miss something until you come face to face with the person, place or thing and the same magic you had experienced in your younger years is right there in front of you for the taking. Folks, I am here to tell you that I did not let this magic moment pass me by as I went with my heart and took a journey down memory lane-which happened to be at the Beacon Theater-to see one of my favorite bands-Styx. There were instances last night where I felt like I was back in my room of my parent’s house as a teenager getting up to “flip over” the album side so as to sail away to a place that only music can take you. And yes there was some “new” faces on the stage but the sweet sounds that you had grown accustomed to did not change much, especially from Mr. Tommy Shaw-who seems to be my generation’s Dick Clark-as he looks as youthful as ever and more importantly still sings like it is 1977- and James Young (always the heart, soul and glue of Styx) who also plays guitar while singing like it is 1977 as well. The keyboards and rhythm section has changed with some new members but the original bass player –Chuck Pannozo- still accompanies when they tour and saves his special appearances for some of their most popular songs.I don’t want to focus on Dennis DeYoung but have to admit I was curious to see how Lawrence Gowan would pull off the songs made famous by Dennis and you know what? He made it his own and at times the songs sounded exactly the same but for the most part, he did a phenomenal job of singing his way and was electrifying behind the keyboards. I also have to state that the pulsating bass playing by Ricky Phillips kept the train moving along and the drumming performed by Todd Sucherman was astounding throughout the entire show and I agree with Tommy’s assessment when he stated that his playing felt like a freight train moving up behind them the whole night. Sometimes you can go back in time and relive the glory years-to a time where movies were out for more than a week or when you made sure you didn’t get your fingertips on your favorite vinyl album as you carefully put the needle on the record-and for that one moment, that one moment- you don’t have to say that “youth is wasted on the young” because now as an older and wiser being, you just experienced, treasured and will no longer take for granted that magic moment which had been tucked away in your heart for some time, yes folks I was there last night and I can tell you that you can go back in time.

The day started with me listening again to “Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight” on the car ride down from CT to NYC, gearing up for the same albums to be performed in their entirety by Styx. The whole day at work I was stoked and couldn’t wait to head up to the Beacon Theater. Of course I had my pre-concert ritual for the Beacon shows as I went to the best pizza parlor in all of NYC-Freddy & Peppers. I knew there was no opener and the show was slated for 7:30 p.m. sharp. I made my way to my seat at 7:15 p.m. (yes I was by myself) and sat anxiously waiting for my time warp. (Turns out that the two people next to me also made the trek themselves, so we all bonded with our mutual admiration for Styx). As I looked up at the stage, it is nice and clean-very simple setting with 7-8 foot tall rectangular speakers to my left and there was the same height of speakers on the right but they were squared shaped with two rows of sound. The drums were elevated a bit and there were a staircase on both sides of the drums with about ten steps each. The lights go down at 7:50 p.m. and there is a huge screen behind the stage and instantly as the message comes on the screen you can tell it is from the movie “Star Wars.” How cool is this? Then this young dude is rifling through some of his albums and pulls out “Grand Illusion” on puts on side one. As he puts the needle on the spinning record, Styx is already on stage and the lights hit them as they start the opening notes to the title track. Even though we are supposed to be back in time, today’s technology assisted them a bit in making it somewhat contemporary. The first thing I notice is the assortment of various colors and how clear everything is, almost like watching them on high definition TV. As Lawrence belts out-“Welcome to the Grand Illusion”- the crowd is off its feet and helping him sing the lyrics. There he is-“JY”- roaming the stage with his larger than life presence, decked out in all black outfit with a skinny brown tie (hey it’s supposed to be 1977, right?). To my right is Tommy with his shoulder length rock and roll hairdo looking very happy to be where he was destined to be-on stage playing guitar in front of an appreciative audience. Ricky stayed close to the powerful pounding drum set for most of the night. JY and Tommy both show their incredible skills on guitar as they take the solos with such ease, the band is super tight but look so much at ease. Chuck comes out for “Fooling yourself” as Lawrence plays the keyboards exactly as it was originally recorded. Chuck looks comfortable as he coolly plays along as Tommy grabbed his acoustic guitar. Here it is, my first chance in over 20 years to see if Tommy still sounds the same. As the opening lines are sung-“You see the world through your cynical eyes”- I am completely blown away-it’s as if the album is still covered in plastic and never opened. Right then and there, I knew it was again going to be a magical night. I don’t know how you feel but in my opinion, Styx has created some of the best “sing along” songs in rock history and this has to rank up there as one of the best. You could feel the crowd just completely letting go of all their daily troubles as they belted out-“Get Up… Come On” and for emphasis, those words were plastered on the screen. When the song slows down and you just hear the bass, Chuck and Ricky made your chest pulverize but you didn’t mind-this is rock and roll baby!!! JY introduces the next song and tells the audience that this is one song that they never performed live before this current tour. Tommy’s vocals takes you to another place as I felt like I was being lifted off the ground.

One of the many highlights, was when the piano started playing the opening notes to “Come Sail Away”-the place erupted and I could see some fans wrapping their arms around each other as we all awaited Lawrence to break in and sing “I’m sailing away.” Talk about a moment? Lawrence completely nailed the vocals and his passion was evident around the entire room as everyone fed off it and I could see people going back in time as the poignant lyrics seem to hit everyone right in the heart. Then when the loud guitars burst in while Todd was wailing on the drums, I was really sailing away and wanted to jump up on stage to air-guitar or something. Did I say what a moment this was? “I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise…” From now on, every time I hear this song I will be back in the Beacon Theater reliving this dream come true. As the song ends, a picture of the dude getting up to turn over to the other side as Tommy asks the audience what to do. “Flip it Over!!!” James does a stellar job with “Miss America” as his guitar work is flawless. Then in my opinion, one of the best songs performed all night, Tommy took the helm for his “Man in the Wilderness.” He spoke about becoming a rock star and how unbelievably his life changed forever once JY asked him to join the band and also mentioned opening up for Kansas and telling the audience how great they were when you see them perform the songs live. Tommy was perfect and when it came to his guitar solo, I was blown away on how skillful he is on guitar-the man does not only sing. I was air-guitaring and by this time I was completely in a zone where I thought I was by myself watching these guys. “Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness…sometimes it makes no sense at all.” The last two songs of side two were played to perfection.

After a twenty minute break, the same dude puts on a different album-this time “Pieces of Eight”- and as the needle lands on the album, Todd again is playing out of his mind and behind him is the screen depicting a boxer headed into a ring. This is James baby and he is rocking with such fierceness that you can’t help yourself; you just start “shadow boxing” as the pace is fast and furious. James and Lawrence trade solos and right off the bat, I know they are going to blow the cover off of this album as well. After a fun version of “I’m OK” the song that I have been waiting to hear my entire life was finally here-“Sing for the Day”- and Tommy again was immaculate. Again I was in my own world and did not sit down as I thought I heard cat calls for “down in front.” At that moment I was back on my bedroom floor lying on my back with the speakers at my ears as loud as I could take it-maybe that “down in front” was my parents telling me to turn it down-not tonight baby, we are on a trip!!! As side two is turned over, I couldn’t wait to hear some of my all-time favorite songs ever. As the organ plays the opening notes for “Blue Collar Man” everyone leaped out of their seats and it was pure bliss- everyone singing word for word- “I’m not a charity case… I’ll take those long nights..” Can it get any better? As I look around at the lower orchestra section, I know I will bottle this up with me for the rest of my life- as Tommy explodes with his guitar solo, I am at a loss for words. The other highlight for me was-“Queen of Spades.” Now for those who don’t know this song-you need to become acquainted real soon. Lawrence did a masterful job and I felt like it was the original recording. The beginning starts off almost “church like” and I saw some people start to sit down but I knew better- I knew the blazing guitars and exploding drums were right around the corner and they would be right back out of their seats. Lawrence left his spot behind the keyboards and stood towards the front stage in between Tommy and JY and was wailing with such fervor, I think this was the best song of the night!!! But wait, there is still “Renegade” coming up, this can’t be the best, right? It is dark and everyone knows what is coming but yet like opening a gift on Christmas morning, you still can’t wait. The place erupts again as you hear Tommy singing a cappella “Oh mama I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law.” Now it’s a party (not that it wasn’t before) but as I looked around I felt like we were part of the biggest celebration, like on New Year’s Eve where everyone is just filled with joy and happiness. I think there might have been a record set for the most people playing “air-guitar” on Tommy’s solo. Folks I can’t tell you how great this was, you had to be there. The entire audience was singing as loud as they could and no one wanted the song to end.

As side two came to an end, we knew it could not be the end of the show-they had to come out and do some encores, right? Of course they did and the first was a cover of the Beatles classic-“I am the Walrus”- which appears on their “Big Bang Theory” album. Lawrence was phenomenal as were the rest of the band as their talents meshed together is something to behold. I have heard very few bands try to cover the Beatles but I’m telling you this cover is spectacular. The crowd wanted more and they delivered one last song-“Too Much Time on My Hands”- and they performed it perfectly. The audience were out of their mind by this time and again Tommy didn’t even have to sing, we could have taken over. The best part of the song though was the audience participation as we all clapped “twice” during the chorus and you could see the smile come across Tommy’s face as he nodded in appreciation. As the confetti was falling over the orchestra seats, I looked up to the falling colors and knew this was going to be a night I will never forget. Like I said, you can go back home. Thank you Gentlemen, as I will now forever have this and will be able to go back in time any time I want. \m/ \m/

Set List

Grand Illusion

Side One

1.       The Grand Illusion

2.       Fooling Yourself

3.       Superstars

4.       Come Sail Away

Side Two

5.       Miss America

6.       Man in the Wilderness

7.       Castle Walls

8.       Grand Finale

Pieces of Eight

Side One

9.       Great White Hope

10.     I’m Ok

11.     Sing for the Day

12.     The Message

13.     Lord of the Rings

Side Two

14.     Blue Collar Man

15.     Queen of Spades

16.     Renegade

17.     Pieces of Eight

18.     Aku Aku


19.     I Am The Walrus

20.     Too Much Time on My Hands




    Comment by jim be — October 31, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  2. Sounds like an awesome concert. Sorry I missed it – Michael and I love them. Wish we came, keep me in mind next time You got to hear my kids sing “Come Sail Away”

    Hope to see you soon.


    Comment by Rosanna — November 1, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

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