Monday, January 18, 2016
Standing Room Only...
Joan was surprised when, after she paid for our Styx tickets, she saw that they had "SRO" on them. Yep, Standing Room Only, even though there are row and seat numbers. Doesn't matter - we are going to enjoy the concert!
In the 70s and 80s, Styx was one of our favorite bands. One of the bands I played in, Stinger, did a lot of Styx songs. Styx was hard to put in a category, so music critics called them "progressive rock." Some thought they "jumped the shark" around the time of Mr. Roboto. No one could deny that they were great musicians with outstanding vocal harmonies.
The venue for the concert was the Talking Stick Resort, an Indian casino/resort. We haven't been to that one... it is impressive. Upscale Vegas-style facility. We arrived there plenty early, planning to eat and do some gaming before the concert. We walked around the casio, played a bit, had a great meal at their buffet (American/Italian/Asian/Mexican entrees). Then played a bit more before going to check out the hall for the concert.
Thank goodness for these casinos - because of them, classic rock bands have "second careers." There may not be enough demand to fill 10,000+ seat concert arenas, but these casinos have halls that can hold a good size crowd. This particular one is billed as 1,600 seats, and this Styx concert is sold out.
We were in line early, wanting to scope out our "standing room only" situation. I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to standing through the whole thing. Once inside, Joan asked one of the usher ladies about the SRO... "You can stand here on the side or anywhere in back. Or, if you want, there are two rows of seats that are not reserved, and you can sit there."
Bingo! We claimed a couple seats on the aisle, and settled in...
No, they aren't front row center, seats... but this room is laid out wide. And, the row in front of us paid $50 more per seat for the same view. When Joan booked this, these were the "best available."
A view of the stage before the place started filling. In typical casino style, they also had 4 bars set up in the hall.
Right on time, a guy from the casino came out to warm up the crowd and talk about upcoming concert events (bands and comedians). Ten minutes after the scheduled start time, the music came up... with no one on stage... and a huge roar from the crowd. The band members came out as the lights came up and the music hit a crescendo, and the live playing started with Grand Illusion...
Tommy Shaw is 62, James Young is 66... they sing, play, and move like they are still in their prime! Seriously, these guys rock! We have seen some artists from that era who can't hit the notes anymore - not these guys. Lawrence Gowan replaced Dennis DeYoung on keyboards and vocals in 1999... some thought Dennis DeYoung was Styx, but this guy has nicely filled those shoes. The drummer and bass player are every bit as good as the Pannozo brothers they replaced. This current line up brings great energy to the many hits this band produced.
The crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative. Early on, Gowan let the crowd know that they'd be playing "all the songs you came to hear!" Again the crowd roared.
From the first song on, it didn't matter where you were sitting - this crowd stood for much of the evening. The sound mix was well balanced, and the music was rockin! They did a couple tribute songs of David Bowie's, and a great job of building the crowd up, mellowing, then a bigger build. They made it all look effortless (as well they should since they have been playing some of these songs for 40 years) and did a fine job of engaging the crowd.
At one point, they brought Chuck Pannozo (the original bass player) out, and their current bass player joined Shaw and Young on guitar...
That is Chuck in the suit and tie.
They moved Ponnozo in and out, did some good crowd-engaging talk between some songs, and rocked from one song to another on others. It felt intimate and big arena at the same time, not an easy thing to pull off.
At one point, Gowan did a solo on keyboards and vocal, while the rest of the band left the stage. When they came back for the next song, he stepped off for a few seconds, then came back in another outfit. They played straight through for an hour and a half, set themselves up for and encore, then came back and rocked it some more...
It was a great night - one of us even came out ahead on the gaming. Everyone at the concert came out ahead on entertainment.