By RUBEN MOSQUEDA // What Styx is doing on stage is almost unfair; it makes their contemporaries' performances appear tired, boring and lifeless.
Guitarists Tommy Shaw and James [J.Y.] Young revamped Styx upon the departure of keyboardist Dennis DeYoung in 1999. Styx added Scottish born singer/keyboardist Lawrence Gowan who had been living in Canada. With Gowan Styx added a not only a formidable successor to DeYoung; but a better show man and better performer. Since Gowan joined the band Styx has released studio albums; ‘Cyclorama’ , ‘Big Bang Theory’  their covers album and ‘Regeneration Vol. 1 & 2’ [2010, 2011] a collection of re-recorded Styx classics. Foundering member [bassist] Chuck Panozzo in recent years, stepped aside from touring full-time but continues to perform on some shows for a couple a songs and he still performs on some of the studio recordings.
In 2016 Styx continue to tour extensively and the continue to do so at a high level. So while their contemporaries are utilizing backing tracks or they’ve detuned, Styx have tightened things up and if you can believe this; have gotten ‘heavier’ sonically over the years. Bassist Ricky Phillips agrees, “The first person that told me that was Rudy Sarzo [Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot]. We met in Chicago while on tour and he came up to me. He and I have been friends for years. I remember the first time he came out to see us. After the show he said “Ricky I can’t explain it. It’s Styx but it’s tighter and muscled up!” [laughs] That was the expression that he used. We put a lot of attention to the songs that you’ve heard on the radio. What I think you hear is a band that has grown and the result is this natural progression.”
In recent years Styx have co-headlined or toured with the likes of REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Yes, amongst others. This time around Styx made out to the Northwest solo. Styx made a stop at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, Oregon on July 22nd and July 23rd. We caught the second sold-out night. Styx bombarded the fans with all the hits; “The Grand Illusion,” “Too Much Time On My Hands,” “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man), “Lady,” “Man In The Wilderness,” “Miss America,” “Come Sail Away,” and “Blue Collar Man ( Long Nights)” amongst them. Styx included the set tributes to David Bowie and Prince with Shaw and Gowan performing “Space Oddity” and “Purple Rain” performed by Gowan. Styx dusted off [The Beatles’] “I Am The Walrus” which the band recorded live at Lincoln City in 2004 [which Gowan pointed out for those that weren’t aware] for the album ‘Big Bang Theory.’
Styx brought the house down with “Renegade” followed by “Rockin’ The Paradise.” Styx scaled down their backline for the Chinook Winds shows; utilizing about ¼ of the space they normally do for an arena or amphitheater show. Styx used a compact set of LED screens, drum riser, keyboard riser, ramp and a sizable Styx backdrop. As a collective unity at this point in time there isn’t a better band than Styx. They vocals are unsurpassed, the guitar work is tremendous and the drumming by Todd Sucherman [who appeared not to even break a sweat] throughout the 90+ minute set was spectacular. What Styx is doing on stage is almost unfair; it makes their contemporaries’ performances appear tired, boring and lifeless.