RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Styx – Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: B

Styx is starting to challenge the Grateful Dead with regard to the number of live albums they have released!  Yet, just when one wants to bitch, if they sit back and then listen, they can’t truly bitch as this is another great recorded example of a hard working and hard rocking band that is able to suck it up and put on a solid performance night after night. 

While it really is and will probably forever be a shame that the band can’t patch things up with Styx founder Dennis DeYoung, one must admit Lawrence Gowan is not only a great singer and keyboardist, he is also a top notch entertainer and showman.  He delivers the goods... and in his tenure with Styx he has become a quasi front man for the band, as well as the key focal point for the audience. For this show the line up was Tommy Shaw (vocals/guitar), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Ricky Phillips (bass, backing vocals), and Chuck Panozzo (bass guitar).   JY and Chuck are the only remaining remnants of the original Styx, yet it was Shaw that brought new life into the band in the 1970s... so while not ‘original’, one has to describe him as nearly indispensible at this stage of the game.  Sucherman and Phillips drive the train with a powerful yet poignant rhythm section. 

The positive points for this band -and this performance- are that the band knows exactly what they are doing.  They deliver the goods and they look and sound great while doing it.  The only knock is the presentation between songs, as the banter is rehearsed to the point of being canned.  Seeing them once it is exciting and fresh.  Seeing them numerous times makes one wish they would be just a tad less rehearsed and a bit more genuine.  Once they shut up, however, they do the songs justice. 

Styx rock out on “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Rockin’ the Paradise,” “Renegade,” “Light Up” and “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights).”  They make the ’70s seem cool with the iconic tunes “Come Sail Away,” “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” and “Suite: Madame Blue.”  On this night they were even joined on stage by Hall of Famer and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder during “Blue Collar Man.” 

The modern day Styx faithful will snap this one up as they always do, while the DeYoung fans will have mixed feelings about it... and the hot chick in the third row who doesn’t know any of these guys names just has her date fetch her another beer. 

At the end of the day, it would be nostalgic to see Dennis join JY, Tommy and Chuck onstage, but... it looks like too much time has passed since these boys rocked together in paradise.  Depending which side of the Styx aisle one is on, this is either a grand performance or a grand illusion.  Either way, an honest critic must admit despite what he wishes were the case, this version of Styx is a damn fine live band... and this is another solid performance of their classic line up of songs.   

Track Listing:
1) The Grand Illusion  
2) Too Much Time On My Hands  
3) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)  
4) Lady  
5) Suite: Madame Blue  
6) Light Up  
7) Crystal Ball  
8) Superstars  
9) Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)  
10) Come Sail Away  
11) Rockin’ The Paradise  
12) Renegade  

By Jeb Wright