STYX and YES Progressive US Tour MGM Grand Theater Foxwoods Resort Casino Mashantucket, CT July 8, 2011
James "JY" Young, Ricky Phillips and Tommy Shaw
Two of rock’s greatest bands, Yes and Styx, teamed up for an awesome show at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods on Friday, July 8, just a few days into their “Progressive U.S. Tour.”Prog-Rock pioneers Yes played the first set (read Yes review), showing off their impeccable musicianship and reverence for their four-decade catalog of hits, album tracks and songs from their new CD.Styx followed, rocking harder than ever and putting on an exciting clinic in rock ‘n roll showmanship.
Cocky and confident, Styx has a ballsy swagger from holding their own on tours in recent years with other great rock bands like Def Leppard, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and now Yes.From the ominous, horrow-show organ and muscley, twin-guitar crunch that opens Blue Collar Man, the band showed they were ready to rock.
Styx moved on from singer/keyboard player Dennis DeYoung years ago and seems to be a more unified and cohesive outfit now, led by guitarists Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young who brandish rock ‘n roll bravado with new members Ricky Phillips on bass (formerly of Bad English) and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan as well as drummer Todd Sucherman, now a long-time member of the group, having replaced John Panozzo, who passed away in 1996.
Styx' Tommy Shaw: "We're here to have a rock show!"
After The Grand Illusion and I’m OK Tommy shouted, “we’re here to have a ROCK SHOW!”It was like ringing a bell to say school is in session and Styx giving lessons, with the emphasis on both “Rock” and “Show.”Shaw took lead vocal on Too Much Time On My Hands and reached back into the Styx songbook for Lorelei, featuring sweet harmonies and really smoked.It was loud.Good and loud.
Shaw, who always did sing some of the band’s hits (like Blue Collar Man), has taken over a few of DeYoung’s songs, with Gowan and Young doing some lead vocals, too.Much-loved Styx standard Babe, maybe too identified with DeYoung and not fitting the harder-edged profile of the group, was omitted.
Tommy, JY and Ricky never stood still and just seemed to be having a blast, kicking ass with the energy that just lights up a concert crowd.Gowan’s keyboard spins around 360° and at one point was standing on top of it, singing, so he was always exciting to watch, too. They have this rock & roll thing down cold and performed with the energy of teenagers playing their first gig.
It was balls-to-the-walls rock with the great chemistry of Shaw’s chainsaw guitar and Young’s more melodic leads.Shaw broke out a vintage Fender 12-string for Suite Madame Blue which featured keyboardist Gowan on lead vocal.His voice was clear and strong, sounding as good as DeYoung, taking it to the front of the stage with plenty of panache and JY rocking it with his Strat.
Fooling Yourself and the hard-edged Miss America kept the energy level high.Gowan took over again for Come Sail Away which built to a rousing set closer, finishing with an explosion from a confetti cannon that filled the front of the house.
Styx returned for an encore with a Shaw rocker, the Western-themed Renegade, an appropriate ending for a band who approached the show like a Dodge City shootout and fired off every bullet in their arsenal.
“Awesome show!” shouted John Sikorski from Norwich.“Amazing,” raved Dave from Norwich.“Unbelieveable,” said Ed from Meriden.“Styx just gets stronger and tighter every time I see them.”“I thought it was fantastic.I enjoyed it immensely,” Linda from Rhode Island told us.
“Excellent! It was so good,” said Shari from Massachusetts.“Both bands were great.I’ve seen them both many times and they are both always just like their records."Her companion, Brian, agreed. “Great show, great bands, excellent sound.”