styx oc fair photo alex kluft

Styx at the OC Fair in Orange County, CA

Styx is a group that always puts on a great show night after night and never disappoints. There are very few bands that have been around 40+ years like Styx and still play 200+ shows a year. The last few times Styx came to L.A. was with Def Leppard and Tesla and with Don Felder and Foreigner. When it’s a co-headline show the set is usually 75 minutes, but with Styx being the only band playing the OC Fair opening night they played over 90 minutes.

The band opened with the title track to one of their biggest albums The Grand Illusion. On the third song original, bassist Chuck Panozzo came out to play “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man).” At 62 and 66 years old (respectively) Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young still rock and show no signs of slowing down. For a band like Styx it’s easy to play a whole set of hits, and that’s exactly what they did with songs like “Lady,” “Lights,” “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade.” Styx had the audience on their feet the whole set. They even threw in “Snowblind,” as well as featured keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan and Shaw doing a duet of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

Gowan always does a medley that goes into “Come Sail Away.” This time it started with “1999” as a tribute to Prince and led into “Rocket Man,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “In the Summertime.” All together there were 17 songs when usually for a co-headline show it’s 11 or 12. Panozzo came back out to play “Come Sail Away.” Styx drummer Todd Sucherman’s playing is always a highlight of any show. Bassist Ricky Phillips is always running the stage and singing great backing vocals.

After “Come Sail Away” Styx left and came back for an encore of “Rockin’ the Paradise,” and “Renegade.” On “Rockin’ the Paradise,” Gowan came out dressed like Michael Jackson in a black sequin jacket and black fedora with the moves to match his outfit. Panozzo joined again for the final song “Renegade.” At the end of the show “One With Everything” played as the band tossed out guitar picks and sticks followed by a final bow.

Text and photos by Alex Kluft

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