By Matt Kelemen
Although Styx fans would love to see a permanent reunion of the three vocalists from its classic era—meaning one that includes Dennis DeYoung—they get treated well by the current lineup. Guitarist/singers Tommy Shaw and James Young find constant inspiration in the live setting, whether they are joined by symphonic musicians or play entire albums song-by-song. The latter approach hits home for aficionados who grew up during Styx’s decadelong reign over album-oriented rock. For a brief time in the late ’70s, before Van Halen upended arena-concert expectations, Styx was the biggest band in the country.
A clash between conceptual-thinker DeYoung and the more rock-minded Shaw and Young took the musicians in different directions. Before the split, Styx peaked with 1977’s The Grand Illusion and 1978’s Pieces of Eight. The former’s title track was perhaps the zenith of Styx’s progressive-rock predilections, while Shaw and Young indulged their harder-edged appetites with “Come Sail Away,” “Fooling Yourself” and Young’s damning “Miss America.” The band arguably never rocked harder than on Pieces of Eight’s “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade,” which should indicate the energy level present when Styx pays homage to the legendary long-plays at its back-to-back Pearl shows.