Sailing Away with Styx

Casino Rama
October 16, 2004
With Styx you can either judge them as a fish out of water in this, the pop-production age or be intimidated by their hugely successful careers that have spanned over four decades. Marshall stacks signified a true rock n' roll vibe as did Lawrence Gowan's keyboard mounted on a spinning stand and a Casino Rama Zeppelin peering down as it soared above the over-zealous middle aged (or children of the 70s, however you prefer) in a collage of posters, photos and blow-up guitars aimed for the band during the show. So much of Styx is ageless, the lyrics are so finely crafted, guitars so in-sync with the bass-line and drums full of punch that the definition of a 'tight' band has no excuse but to follow a Styx performance.

As the show began, hundreds of fans ran to the base of the stage throwing thongs, bras and roses at Canada's Lawrence Gowan, apparently the favourite in the group and still remembered for his solo track 'A Criminal Mind' from his solo career, which he performed for the crowd. He joined the band in 1999 and also lit up the stage with a dramatic 'Madam Blue', an elegant rendition of 'Lady' and a rowdy comical version (in double time I might add) of The Maple Leaf Ragtime song, receiving cheers from his fellow Canadians. With his hair streaked fire-engine red and hot pants clinging he jumped off his piano to their hit track 'Come Sail Away'. The band was joined mid-show by a member of the original group Chuck Panozzo who has survived quite well through the years making fans young and old dance together with the dedicatedly witty James Young playing a mean version of Hendrix's 'Manic Depression' while Gowan got people up and singing The Beatles 'I am the Walrus', both during the encore. Tommy Shaw, Styx's longest surviving member of the group made sure the band rocked out with enough instrumental breaks to drive the crowd wild with anticipation of the next song. They showered the crowd with guitar tabs, ticker tape, Frisbees, beach balls and Lawrence even snapped photos of the lucky receivers. These were not idols reliving their youth they were and are rock n' roll's finest, showing the world that classic rock is cool again, and doesn't compare to the 'Britney' of the week.

Writer: LB

Photo:Paul Whitfield

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