Words by Eve Connell
Styx received a warm welcome back to the Bay Area with a packed house at San Jose’s City National Civic Auditorium. With no opener and two hour-long sets flanking a twenty minute intermission, the band had plenty of time to cover a broad swath of material while giving the spirited and green-clad crowd plenty of opportunity to suck down a few libations in celebration of both the band and St. Patrick’s Day.
The show appropriately kicked off with the crowd on their feet for The Grand Illusion with Lawrence Gowan on vocals as he spun circles with his keyboard … his stage presence, vocals, and keyboard playing keeping everyone rapt. The rhythm and range of the first set kept everyone’s attention as the group moved smoothly from one hit to the next. Their most famous ballad, Lady, caused some people to visibly, audibly swoon, while Too Much Time on My Hands crescendoed to a perfect peak. Tommy Shaw and JY Young captured much of the guitar attention in this set and original Styx bassist Chuck Panozzo made an appearance, which thrilled everyone.
After the intermission (and a costume change … these guys have earned the right to wear their animal print and leather!), the audience was treated to an unexpected bonus: Bowie covers. Space Oddity, Life on Mars, and Changes were played and sung by Gowan who was then joined by Shaw. A brief cowboy-inspired medley in tribute of recently departed Emerson made the set list, too. After the tribute songs, Shaw naturally segued into Crystal Ball, another crowd favorite.
Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman gained more attention during the second set, while Panozzo made another cameo on the songs to close the show. The timing of each song, lighthearted banter in the spaces between, and the stage posing and posturing by most of Styx’s members conjured some genuine magic, made time fly, and caused the audience to wish for more.
Guitars strum, drums boom, vocals enthrall. Styx puts on a tremendously energetic show, naturally interacting with its most enthusiastic fans. After over 40 years as a band, it’s truly inspiring how tight the band sounds and how much fun they still have on stage doing what they do best: ROCK.
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