TVD Live Shots: Styx at City National Grove, 1/14

I’ve seen well over a thousand concerts in my lifetime but had never seen Styx live. For me, Tuesday’s show at City National Grove was a performance I won’t soon forget. You’d never know that this band is approaching the big 5-0 by the way they slayed a nearly 3 hour, 21-song set. It was as if all in attendance were magically transported back to the late ’70s during Styx’s Pieces of Eight Tour. If I could give this performance an 11, I would. It was that good.

What more can be said about Styx that has not already been said over an illustrious career that started back in the south-side of Chicago in 1972. Sure, the band has gone through some changes over the years, however the spirit of Styx remains and continues to pump out new music and phenomenal live performances like no other. Tuesday’s show in Anaheim was simply incredible and highlighted why this band remains atop the altar of classic rock and roll.

Styx kicked off their set with “Gone, Gone, Gone” off 2017’s critically acclaimed release, The Mission. It was Styx’s first single off the album and the first featuring Lawrence Gowan on lead vocals. Gowan’s vocals were crisp and combined with an incredible stage presence launched their performance into hyperdrive deep in the heart of Orange County. This show was going to be fun.

Over the next 2+ hours, Styx captivated the near-capacity crowd with classics that spanned their entire catalog and then some. Tommy Shaw took the controls on hits like “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “Blue Collar Man” and even teased an acoustic version of Damn Yankees’ “Come Again” prior to launching into 1976 classic “Crystal Ball.” Shaw was on point throughout the entire set with crisp guitar licks and amazing vocals that are second to none.

I’d be remiss not to point out how incredible it was to see James “J.Y.” Young on stage for the first time. He’s considered by many to be the “Godfather” of Styx and his performance on Tuesday was simply brilliant and his intro to “Snowblind” is simply iconic. It goes without saying that Todd Sucherman’s drumming was interstellar and it was clear by his performance why he was voted number one rock drummer in the world by Modern Drummer magazine. Incredible.

And let’s not forget about the bassists. We were blessed to have the world-renowned Ricky Philips slapping that 5-string throughout the set along with the founding-father Chuck Panozzo taking the stage during “Fooling Yourself” and “Come Sail Away.” Unfucking believable. And if that wasn’t enough, Lawrence Gowan brought the crowd to tears during a cover of Rush’s “Limelight.” What a classy and unforgettable way to remember the legendary Neil Peart.

The show ended just as it started—with fans of all ages on their feet and dancing to the beat of two of Styx’s most beloved songs, “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade.” Panozzo came out one last time to join his brothers for a stellar encore and ultimately one of the best classic rock shows I have ever seen. That’s not a brag, just a fact—and a show that I will cherish for a lifetime. Long live Styx!

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