Styx bring the rock back to Pittsburgh

When you’ve been around as long as living legends Styx, your larger than life legacy and reputation speaks for itself, so when they hit the road this year there was no need for an opening act and let’s be honest, there are few bands out there with the fortitude to go on before a band of this caliber.

That did not phase the loyal fans that turned out for their near sold out show in Pittsburgh in the slightest. In fact, most were thrilled to get right into their live performance, which consisted of a pair of hour-long sets separated by a 20 minute intermission, without having to wait for an opening band.

Even at this stage in their career the band looks and sounds as good as they did in their prime and their stage show is still a sight to behold.

Original members Tommy Shaw and James Young’s voices have stood the test of time, aging rather like a fine wine, so if you closed your eyes, you would have believed you were sitting in the crowd for the Grand Illusion or Paradise Theatre tours.

While some diehard fans may long for the return of Dennis De Young, credit must be given where credit is due to Lawrence Gowan for his outstanding job on keyboards and lead vocals. After over 15 years with the band he has assumed his role as a frontman and does one hell of a job.

Credit must also be given to the stunning rhythm section of drummer Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips. They are the rock solid backbone of the band and give a heartfelt performance that would make the Panozzo brothers proud.

Speaking of the Panozzo brothers, founding bassist Chuck Panozzo made a special guest appearance on “Fooling Yourself,” much to the delight of everyone in attendance that beautiful spring evening in Pittsburgh.

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In the first set fans were treated to classics like “The Grand Illusion,” “Too Much Time On My Hands,” Fooling Yourself” and “Lady,” alongside deeper cuts like “Lorelei,” “Suite Madame Blue,” “Man In The Wilderness” and “I’m O.K.,” plus their rousing cover of the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” which always gets the crowd going.

The second set was punctuated by some of their biggest radio hits such as “Miss America,” “Crystal Ball,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Rockin’ the Paradise.” Another highlight of the second set was when Lawrence Gowan took center stage to lead the crowd through a medley sing along of the covers “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Live and Let Die” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Saving the very best for last, there is no denying that the monster smashes “Come Sail Away” and closer “Renegade” were the songs the rabid fans had been waiting for all night and as the confetti cannons blasted into the air, hearing them was sweet relief. Now everyone could go home happy.

There is no telling how much longer the band will tour, so if they hit your town don’t miss your opportunity to see them and find out for yourself that after all these years, they are still one of the strongest live bands on the planet.

-Eric Hunker