RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Dennis DeYoung - …And the music of Styx Live in Los Angeles
Frontiers Records
http://www.frontiers.it/album/5223/

Rating: A

On March 18th Dennis DeYoung brought his band to Los Angeles to record a concert for AXS-TV.  The night was going to be special.  All the stops were being pulled out, and tickets would only set his fans back five bucks.  Yes, five bucks!  Amazing. 

Not only was the price of admission a throwback to the good old days of rock concerts past, the musical event was being billed as Dennis DeYoung…And the Music of Styx.  This time he meant all of Styx, including the songs sung by Tommy Shaw.

The news that the show’s set would include tunes like “Blue Collar Man,” “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Foolin’ Yourself” and “Renegade” got the fans attention.  What a treat it would be to see DeYoung playing his keyboard parts on these classic Styx songs again.  There was only one real question remaining to be answered: Who would play the part of Mr. Shaw?  While Dennis certainly has the chops to sing any damn song he wishes, if he sang those songs it wouldn’t be close enough to the original.  He needed that sound and he needed that two-guitar lineup to accompany his keyboard parts.  Enter August Zadra. 

Zadra was discovered on YouTube by DeYoung’s son a few years back.  Dennis liked what he saw, and loved what he heard.  The guy looks and plays like a rock star.  He can hit the high notes as well.  Zadra brings a fresh and exciting edge to the performance.  Still, as good as he is, he is not the star of the show, as that slot still belongs to DDY.

“The Grand Illusion” has maximum guitar riffage, yet it is the grand vocals of DeYoung that have, then as well as now, given that song its personality.  Same can be said for “Rockin’ the Paradise” and even “Mr. Roboto.”  When DeYoung adds the one-two punch of his keys and his pipes is when he is at his best.  “Lorelei” has that damn musical intro, and then that voice, and then that guitar… a true masterpiece of Seventies rock and roll.  “Come Sail Away” is his most beloved tune and, once again, it is the piano, the voice and then the massive guitars that send this through the roof.  “Suite Madame Blue” is another example, as the song drifts into the keyboard abyss before being resurrected by electric guitars and then the chant of “America…” 

On this performance, all eras of Styx music comes alive, as close to the original as is physically possible in the present day.  Only Tommy Shaw and James Young being in tow would make this performance more authentic. 

Of course, DeYoung has his softer side included in the show.  “Lady,” “Babe” and “The Best of Times” all make you want to grab yer girl and slow dance with her on the gymnasium floor after the high school football game.  His love songs are part of his DNA, as Dennis expresses his soft side with the same passion that he expresses his other feelings.  “Show Me the Way” is another emotional moment, as the song is stripped down to the core and delivered with raw emotion. 

At the end of the day, both DeYoung and his band are energetic, vibrant and colorful.  While the CD is an excellent display of talent, the visual aspects of the show and the unique stage design make the DVD or Blu-ray the chosen medium to experience this event.  Hell, buy them both, you won’t be disappointed.  

The bottom line is that Dennis DeYoung is in fine voice, a natural born showman and has a strong desire, even after all that has happened, to share his music with us.  One can tell he wants to be where he is and doing what he is doing.  He may not be in the band Styx anymore, but rest assured, he is the band Styx.  

Put this one on the ‘must own’ list.

Track listing:
Cd1:The Message (intro); The Grand Illusion; Lady; Lorelei; Blue Collar Man; Show Me The Way;  Mr. Roboto; Crystal Ball; Don't Let It End; Too Much Time On My Hands
Cd2:Rockin’ The Paradise; Desert Moon; Babe; Foolin’ Yourself; Suite Madame Blue; The Best Of Times; Renegade; Come Sail Away.
 
Video: The Grand Illusion; Lady; Lorelei; Blue Collar Man; Show Me The Way; Mr. Roboto; Crystal Ball; Don't Let It End; Too Much Time On My Hands; Desert Moon; Babe; Foolin’ Yourself; Suite Madame Blue; The Best Of Times; Renegade; Come Sail Away.

By Jeb Wright

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