So, I went o see Styx at the Morristown Community Theater last Friday night. I have to confess…was never a big Styx fan and I am clearly a Tommy Shaw Styx guy and not Dennis DeYoung. Renegade vs. Babe. No contest.
So I was pleasantly surprised that they looked and sounded great. Small venue, Tommy Shaw looked just like he did in 1985 and his voice was spot on! The lead guitarist, James Young, also looked and sounded great. The original bassist from the 70’s and 80’s, Chuck Panazzo, doesn’t tour with this version of Styx but I guess lives in NJ and he showed up to play on a few songs. But no original drummer and no Dennis DeYoung. So this brings up an interesting dilemma …Do they play only Tommy Shaw hits or do they also play the Dennis DeYoung songs that arguably are the most well known (Come Sail Away, Lady, and the worst song of all time, Mr. Roboto).
A few years back I worked for an auto maker that had Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh play at a dealer show in Vegas. I remember some guy in the audience screaming “Hey Glenn, play Hotel California”…and I cracked up laughing because that was Don Henley’s song. They were NEVER going to play that… but they also weren’t billing themselves as the Eagles.
So the Styx show goes on and they play mostly Tommy Shaw and James Young songs. They play Lady and the much younger keyboardist has the Dennis DeYoung voice and sounds pretty good (reference previous blog on Journey for sound alike lead vocalists) and is just as campy as Mr. DeYoung was on Kilroy Was Here. Ugh.
So the show is ending and they start playing the final song…Come Sail Away, with that iconic piano intro so everyone knows what’s coming. Just the keyboardist in the lights. The Styx logo is on the back wall in 20’ letters, right out of the Grand Illusion album. And the place goes NUTS. Women are screaming, Guys are fist bumping their pals and nodding their heads, saying “awlllllright dude!”. And I find myself laughing to myself again, just like at the car show. These folks are basically going nuts and cheering for a guy who wasn’t in the band when the band sold out arenas and churned out platinum albums and he didn’t sing that song that we all grew up with. On this song, the boys in Styx are basically a cover band.
Then I kept smiling because I realized it’s the power of the brand. The Styx brand. The audience knew that the original guys sounded great and had proven themselves to still be a surprisingly good live band, and that if Tommy Shaw and James Young were ok with this campy guy representing their band and their legacy, it was more than ok for the 2,000 people in the audience. They bought in because they trusted that 20’ logo on the back wall and all it represents. And it sounded great.
At Coldwell Banker ®, we realize the strength of our 104 year old legacy and the responsibility that comes with it to continue to earn your trust. Rock on Tommy Shaw, but please, no more Dennis DeYoung stuff.
BTW, REO Speedwagon is coming in late Sept with Kevin Cronin…