Styx in Omaha, Nebraska on August 27th, 2016.
Styx at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska on August 27th, 2016.
The moment you entered Baxter Arena it was apparent the focus of the evening would be the music. Absent from the stage were large video screens, modern moving lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics. A large backdrop with the Styx logo hung above a 2-tier stage, with drums centered below the 2nd tier. Four small video screens, embedded between the 1st and 2nd tiers, displayed various images used primarily to highlight the performers on stage. Everything in plain view as the crowd filed into the area before the lights dimmed. One-by-one the band emerged from the center of the top tier, making their way to the front of the stage before ripping into The Grand Illusion. It’s been nearly 40 years since the release of the Styx masterpiece, but it sounded as fresh and vibrant as ever.
Following the opening number, the band brought up the tempo with Too Much Time on My Hands, but the PA cut out before they could complete the 2nd verse. With the sound lost, but lights still on, drummer Todd Sucherman continued to keep the beat while the rest of the band kept the audience clapping and cheering until sound was restored. And from that moment on it didn’t take long for Styx to heat up Omaha’s new ice hockey arena by playing a series of hits from their 4 decade long career. Keyboard maestro Lawrence Gowen and Tommy Shaw performed a touching rendition of Space Oddity (in tribute to David Bowie) before transitioning into Tommy’s signature Crystal Ball.
Tributes continued during the evening as the band played I Am the Walrus from their Big Bang Theory covers album, and Lawrence performed a piano medley including snippets of Piano Man, Rocket Man, Bohemian Rhapsody, and 1999 (in tribute to Prince). “Ending” the show with masterful performance of Come Sail Away.
They returned on stage for an encore and electric performance of Rockin’ the Paradise which ended with confetti canons limiting the view of the stage. With the entire crowd on their feet, Styx brought the house down with Renegade to officially close the show. When the final notes of Renegade faded, the LP version of One With Everything played over the PA as the band took their bows and gracefully exited the stage. The current lineup of Styx (consisting of James Young, Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowen, Ricky Phillips, and Todd Sucherman) have been together since 2003. Original bass player Chuck Panozzo, sidelined from the band since 1999 due to health issues, joined his band mates on stage during Fooling Yourself, Come Sail Away, and Renegade.
Styx has long held a reputation for being an incredible live act, and it’s amazing to consider most of the songs from their 17 song set were recorded and released prior to 1982. It is a level of musical craftsmanship noticeable absent from most of today’s rock and roll landscape. The tag line on their concert shirts may have stated it best… classic rock my ass. Styx live is a must see.
Review by Vince Andreasen
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Photos courtesy of Christopher Tierney Photography in Omaha, Nebraska. ©2016.
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