“Let’s see some hands!” Tommy DeCarlo, vocalist from Boston, getting the massive crowd at Ironstone Amphitheatre in Murphys reaching up to the sky during “Cool The Engines”. Essentially a double-header with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts performing earlier, it was a stellar night of classic rock spanning the last four or five decades. The two artists were a great choice to pair up, in that they had great crossover in fans but were also a showcase in contrasting styles and approaches to bringing their music to life on stage. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were stripped down to just the instruments they needed to recreate their raw punk rock style as the sun set into the horizon behind the crowd while Boston had a fantastic spaceship themed backdrop across massive monitors that seemed to fuel their hard and progressive rock sounds. Early on in Richter Entertainment’s Summer Concert Series, this show set a bar for high energy and pure rock and roll for all the artists to follow.
“Right now we’re going to do one that we haven’t done probably in about ten years… it’s a fan favorite. It’s not necessarily a happy song…” James “J.Y.” Young of Styx, leading into their controversial 1981 song “Snowblind”, which was claimed to have been “Satanistic” by some anti-rock activists at the time (as well as claiming that it was one of the songs that contained hidden messages – only heard if played backwards!). Styx has recorded and performed music now for over four decades (with some break-ups along the way), and given the energy and enthusiasm coming from the stage at Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton on Sunday night, it is quite amazing how well the band has endured over the years as they continue to bring their unique style of music to fans, old and new. Judging by their interactions while on stage, they seem like they really enjoy working and playing together these days, which is very rare in the music world. Playing “an evening with…” style of show with no supporting or opening artists, they split their own set in two (with a short intermission) and played a solid 90 minutes of not only their own songs but some surprise covers and tributes as well. An excellent show and the kind of band worth seeing again and again, as they seem to have unique elements to their concerts to keep things fresh and exciting. An earnest and authentic group of guys, there was no pretense or arrogance… they seemed to acknowledge that their legacy is locked within those songs and albums and were eager to celebrate their music with the sold out crowd.
Last night I had an opportunity to see Styx perform at Thunder Valley Resort and Casino in Lincoln, California. Really quite the performance… it’s rare these days when a band comes onto the stage, sans opening act, and just let’s it rip, and has the audience from the first riff. Given that the band, born in Chicago, has been around since the 70s, they obviously have a stellar catalog of work to choose from, and the set tonight spanned everything from their more anthemic rock to popular hits on the ballad side, showing a real versatility in their musical style as well as an unusually democratic (small “d”) sharing of their various talents, and (quite literally) the spotlight. It is obvious that these guys love to perform, feed off their audience, and seem to play together well, and really appear to enjoy their music and playing it live – together – to an enthusiastic crowd. And given some back and forth, and my interview with Lawrence Gowan leading up to the show, and, well, just looking around within the amphitheater (which at least appeared to be completely sold out), their audience today very much spans many, many generations, with old and new fans alike just soaking in some genuine rock and roll. Styx really delivered, and it was an awesome performance, from beginning to end. [Read more…]
This article features the fourth in an ongoing series of “Rock Talk” podcast audio interviews for the Rock Subculture Journal. Today’s guest is Lawrence Gowan of Styx. Tonight I will be attending their concert at Thunder Valley Resort and Casino in Lincoln, California. Mr. Gowan was been a vocalist and keyboardist for the legendary rock band since 1999. With this interview, he discusses his career, his work with Styx, and thoughts about the music industry and rock music in general.