Git er done…. Oh wait this is a different kind of Blue Collar Man. The kind whose hard work and determination gained him multi-platinum status as a solo artist, yet still made the gamble of a lifetime 14 years ago by joining the legendary STYX. A gamble that was sure to pay off, as the frontman in the longest running line-up ever for STYX, Lawrence Gowan is living the dream that even the most successful musicians still dream about. Recently, I caught up with Lawrence during a tour stop in San Antonio, TX (just like the famous song), where we spoke about everything from Chuck Panozzo to Children of Bodom. Oh, and don’t worry about having to actually read this time around, just click the play button below, sit back with a frosty one, and enjoy…
For more info on STYX, including Tour Dates visit the band’s official website here. Special thanks go out to Lawrence Gowan for so graciously giving me his time, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making it all happen.
The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live
Eagle Rock Entertainment
8 out of 10
STYX puts on one hell of a live show. They have more hits than you might think, and when they do a standard ‘greatest hits’ show, you are blown away not only by how many hits they’ve had, but by the sheer musicianship and epic songwriting skills the Chicago Prog Rock band has. Yes I said Prog Rock. They may not be as spacey as Pink Floyd or as intricate as Rush, but they were one of the greatest Prog Rock bands of the 70’s.
The Grand Illusion was released in 1977 and is still their best selling album (according to them). The songwriting on this opus ranges from grandiose and bombastic to sheer brilliance. The opening title track The Grand Illusion shows off their writing skills as much as it does their musicianship and it is one hell of a way to open an album let alone a live show. Flowing right into Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) the crowd is on their feet rocking out and transported back to a time where huge epic songs ruled the airwaves and the charts.
The show starts out with a video screen showing an homage to the Star Wars opening in space with the yellow letters taking us back to 1977. It then cuts to a young man’s bedroom where he is shuffling through his stack of LPs (you remember those right? Vinyl baby, old school!), until he finds The Grand Illusion. He puts it on the turn table, grabs his head phones, and the band kick into the intro to The Grand Illusion.
The hits just keep on coming with Come Sail Away and Miss America. With Castle Walls being an amazing stand out live, you tend to forget what an incredible album The Grand Illusion was from beginning to end until it is right there in your face.
After a short intermission, we go back to the video and the young man putting Pieces Of Eight on. The second half of the concert is really for the old school STYX fans. While Pieces Of Eight has its hits like Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) and the perennial Renegade, the rest of the album may not be as familiar to the radio fans of STYX.
STYX released Pieces Of Eight in 1978 marking a very prolific time in the history of STYX. Once The Grand Illusion took off, it rocketed the band from the clubs, to opening for KANSAS, to headlining Arenas before they took a short break to record and release Pieces Of Eight.
I’ve seen STYX live at least 5 times over as many years, though I missed this particular tour unfortunately. They are consummate musicians and throw a great party when they are on stage. And to take two albums, dust off songs that they have never played live before, and put them out there thirty some odd years later, and be as entertaining as they are is no mean feat.
The music comes across great in this Blu Ray release and the surround sound will give you goose bumps at times when they go into Castle Walls, Renegade, or Miss America. The camera work was a little annoying however, in that every third shot was out of focus! At first I thought I was imagining it, and then I thought maybe they were trying to be artsy with it. Then I realized, the camera men were simply shooting it out of focus most of the time. Other than the video editing and camera work, it is definitely a must have for the hard core STYX fans. And if you are only a radio fan of STYX, this is a great place to start to learn more about them, where their music came from, and why 30 plus years later they are STILL all over Classic Rock stations around the world.
You can purchase STYX: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live right here.
STYX - Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitars), James “JY” Young (vocals, guitars), Lawrence Gowan (vocals, keyboards), Todd Sucherman (drums) and Ricky Phillips (bass), along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo—are getting ready to head out on the U.S. concert trail again this year. However, for this round of dates, the band has an extra-special treat planned – it won’t be a typical STYX show. Along with the classic hits, the band will be performing 1977′s THE GRAND ILLUSION and 1978′s PIECES OF EIGHT in their entirety. Both albums spawned such hit singles and Classic Rock radio standards as “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).”
And as icing on the cake, a seven-song EP, entitled REGENERATION, VOLUME 1, containing six newly re-recorded classics–”Come Sail Away,” “Crystal Ball,” “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),” “Lorelei,” “The Grand Illusion” and “Sing For The Day”—and a brand new track, “Difference In The World,” will be available for sale at every stop along “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” October/November tour route.
“This is the most unique STYX concert ever,” says singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw. “It’s a hybrid experience of enjoying the artistry of the vinyl album and the energy and of our live performance. Some songs have never been performed live!”
Spawned from a suburban Chicago basement in the early ‘70s, STYX would eventually transform into the virtual arena rock prototype by the late ’70s and early ’80s, due to a fondness for big rockers and soaring power ballads. Over the course of their 38-year career they’ve released 15 studio albums, 6 best-of compilations and 4 live albums, garnering 8 Top Ten singles. STYX has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
On the touring front, STYX has performed more shows since ’99 than all of the previous years of its career combined. Two Super-Bowl appearances, Pollstar box office chart-topping tours with Def Leppard, Journey, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Bad Company, Foreigner (to name a few), two more studio albums and no end in sight, STYX continues to conquer the planet, one venue at a time.
Check out the “The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight” at any of the following stops:
Thu 10/14 Evansville, IN The Centre (on-sale 8/13)
Fri 10/15 Merrillville, IN Star Plaza Theatre (on-sale 8/14)
Sat 10/16 Waukegan, IL Genesee Theatre (on-sale /14)
Sun 10/17 Columbus, OH The Palace Theatre (on-sale 8/13)
Tue 10/19 Chattanooga, TN Tivoli Theatre (on-sale 8/20)
Thu 10/21 Melbourne, FL King Center (on-sale 8/20)
Fri 10/22 Ft. Myers, FL Barbara B. Mann Perf Arts Hall (on-sale 8/20)
Sat 10/23 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall (on-sale 8/20)
Mon 10/25 Salem, VA Salem Civic Center (on-sale 8/20)
Wed 10/27 Washington, DC Warner Theatre (on-sale 9/10)
Thu 10/28 New York, NY Beacon Theatre (on-sale 8/6)
Fri 10/29 Baltimore, MD Hippodrome Theatre (on-sale 8/20)
Sat 10/30 Albany, NY Palace Theatre Albany (on-sale 8/19)
Tue 11/2 Bangor, ME Bangor Auditorium (on-sale 8/27)
Wed 11/3 Lowell, MA Lowell Memorial Auditorium (on-sale 8/20)
Fri 11/5 Erie, PA Warner Theatre Erie (on-sale 8/27)
Sat 11/6 Toledo, OH Stranahan Theatre (on-sale 8/27)
Sun 11/7 Louisville, KY Louisville Palace (on-sale 8/27)
Tue 11/9 Memphis, TN The Orpheum Theatre (on-sale 8/27)
Thu 11/11 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium (on-sale 8/27)
Fri 11/12 Biloxi, MS Hard Rock Casino & Resort (on-sale TBA)
Sat 11/13 Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Center (on-sale 8/27)
For more STYX click here.