Review/photos by John Jeffrey
Tonawanda, NY - Considering a mere five days prior, Styx sold out Lewiston's Artpark with a paying crowd of approximately 10,000 fans, it was surprising to see original vocalist, Dennis DeYoung, draw only half that amount (if not less) for a FREE show at Tonawanda's Gratwick Park, closing out their summer season of Cornerstone's Niagara River Rocks.
Being advertised as performing "The Music of Styx," it was no surprise that DeYoung's set list was very similar to the set list Styx is currently playing on their current tour. Albeit, DeYoung plays more of the ballad material, even when DeYoung plays the heavier Styx songs, they just don't seem to have the same edge or energy as when they are being performed by the group he originally left (for the first time) in 1984. Six songs in, DeYoung and his backing band (which consists of guitarists August Zadra and Jimmy Leahey, bassist Craig Carter, drummer Tom Sharpe, keyboardist John Blasucci and wife Suzanne DeYoung) performed the song, "Mr. Roboto," from the album "Kilroy Was Here," which is perhaps the audible antithesis of what caused the initial split between DeYoung and Styx. Bringing out the Kilroy character robot mask and doing choreographed 'robot' dance moves, you can clearly see the difference in approach DeYoung takes when putting on a concert in comparison to his counterparts in Styx. DeYoung comes off less rock and roll, and more camp, like a zany old uncle reliving his youth, making funny faces and doing silly dance moves. Although DeYoung still sounds amazing and is a consummate professional, you definitely get the vibe that he doesn't take things 'oh so serious' and doesn't mind poking fun at himself.
And although DeYoung's set started almost an hour late (due to his delayed arrival from Toronto), the band still played a 90 minute plus set, ending at 9pm, as opposed to the normal 8pm endings for concerts at Gratwick. DeYoung's 'Styx-lite,' easy listening set was a perfect match for the melancholy crowd on this day, and with the beautiful weather and the well run event by the Niagara River Rock's staff, it all made for a very enjoyable experience, ending the summer on a perfect note for the Tonawanda crowd.
Set List -
"The Grand Illusion" (Styx)
"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" (Styx)
"Show Me the Way" (Styx)
"Mr. Roboto" (Styx)
"Desert Moon" (DeYoung solo)
"Too Much Time on My Hands" (Styx)
"Rockin’ the Paradise" (Styx)
"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" (Styx)
"Prelude 12" (Styx)
"Suite Madame Blue" (Styx)
"The Best of Times" (Styx)
"The End" (The Beatles)
"Come Sail Away" (Styx)
Special Thanks to Kathy Paradowski