STYX LIVE is No Grand Illusion, But The Real Thing!

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Styx Live Orleans Arena Las Vegas Eagle Rock Entertainment

STYX: LIVE AT THE ORLEANS ARENA IN LAS VEGAS from Eagle Rock Entertainment is a recording done, as you would guess by the title, live at the venue during the 2014 “Soundtrack of Summer Tour.” What you do not know, and you can’t tell by this review, is that I am writing it totally exhausted -- exhausted because this CD rocks! Really rocks! Because Styx still really rocks!

Normally when I review a record or CD, I sit myself down in the sweet spot of my listening room, have something to drink by my side and listen through the first time just to experience how it “moves” me, and then another time or two in a more in-depth, critical-listening manner.

This CD, however, had me just rocking out not only the first time I played it through, but the next several times over the next couple of days, before I could even get to a point where I could remain seated and put on my critical listening ears, which I even now have to fight (and ultimately fail) to maintain.

Anyone familiar with the band may be wondering: Can these rockers (first formed in 1972) still play with not only the passion they once did, but also the intensity? Well, I’m here to tell you with a resounding and loud "Yes!" If you have never seen them live and only know them by their studio recordings, you’ll learn what you’ve missed and will be blown away!

The band on the CD, comprised of Tommy Shaw, James Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman, Ricky Phillips and Chuck Panozzo, doesn’t miss a beat; from the iconic keyboard melodies, to the vocal harmonies, to the virtuosic guitar playing… they are all here. The zealous audience noise only amps up the aura as they can be heard singing along to every song, oftentimes encouraged to do so by the band themselves. And why not? The songs on this CD span their career and most are staples on any rock or classic rock radio station anywhere.

I love the melodic immediacy of this recording. It captures their harmonies when they sing together while still allowing me to pick out individual voices within the sound stage. The guitar work is exceptional, and the drums and bass give that familiar live arena rock sound that few bands were ever really capable of carrying off. As I said, they have lost nothing.

The addition of Don Felder on “Blue Collar Man” only helps to enhance the excitement as well as raise that song to new heights. Adding to the sonic momentum is the crowd itself, captured perfectly here when they are asked to sing along, or in their response at the end of a song. The excitement in their massed voices is clearly heard.

There are few times I have listened to live rock records where I have experienced what Steve Morse calls VHF or Vertical Hair Factor, where you hear something and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. I pleasantly and unexpectedly heard that on “Sail Away” when the audience is asked to sing the chorus and they do so in perfect harmony, perhaps because inside I felt that was always the way it should be sung. I don’t know why, but it literally gave me chills!

If I were to nitpick anything on the album at all it would be the audience’s response during “Renegade.” They are asked to sing a lyric, and it seems they are caught off guard because while they sang en masse throughout the whole rest of the album, it only sounded like 20 people sang out and it killed the momentum. They picked it up after that, and sang when prompted, but for me it was too late for that song. And while it was the last song of the album, I felt it was sort of anticlimactic after “Sail Away.” The CD rather abruptly ends after “Renegade. ” There is a little crowd noise, but it tapers off quickly and starts back at song one. After experiencing this concert, it would have been a nice touch to let the crowd cheer longer and fade out more slowly.

Other than that, Eagle Rock Entertainment has a killer release here with this CD, easily one of the best live albums I have heard in decades, and while, no, Dennis de Young is not with the band here, I tell you now after hearing this album, while it will never be said he wasn’t a huge integral part of the band and their success, you’ll be saying to yourself as I did: "Dennis De-Who?"

The only regret you will have in owning this CD won’t be from purchasing it, but instead from not going to see them live if you had the chance--which there may still be hope for some of you lucky ones as the band is still touring.

Most enthusiastically recommended!


  • The Grand Illusion
  • Too Much Time On My Hands
  • Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
  • Lady
  • Suite Madame Blue
  • Light Up
  • Crystal Ball
  • Superstars
  • Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) featuring Don Felder
  • Come Sail Away
  • Rockin’ The Paradise
  • Renegade
5.0 / 5.0