Rockin’ in Paradise with Styx at Ruth Eckerd Hall

By on May 20, 2016
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(Photo-Travis Failey)

A sold out crowd at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall was treated to an amazing night of music by Styx and 38 Special: two bands that have provided us a juke box full of hits and for some, a soundtrack of their youth.  Yes, another sold out rock show in Tampa Bay. People are getting out to local venues of all sizes in the area supporting live music in this community like I haven’t seen in a long time.

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Don Barnes & Danny Chauncey (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Danny Chauncey (Photo-Travis Failey)

38 Special was the perfect primer for Styx as they got the crowd off their seats early and often during their 13 song set. Opening with “Rockin’ Into The Night,” guitarist and lead vocalist, Don Barnes, was pitch perfect throughout the night. Barnes and lead guitarist, Danny Chauncey, took turns in taking center stage and their chemistry was evident. Throughout their set, I was reminded of all the times you would be at a bar and a cover band would break into “Fantasy Girl,” or the last two songs of their night in “Caught Up In You,” and “Hold On Loosely.”

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Tommy Shaw (Photo-Travis Failey)

After a 20-minute break, Styx took the stage and for the first time, I was seeing them as a headliner. Styx would not disappoint as they treated their fans to a 15 song set that also included a 3 song medley with a keyboard solo.

Styx started with the song that they have opened with in the past, 1977’s “The Grand Illusion.”  This song set the tone for the whole evening of amazing musicianship that rivals any other band past or present. Lawrence Gowan, Tommy Shaw and James Young are all well accomplished vocalists, and each of them had shining moments while at the forefront tonight. Gowan handled most of the frontman duties with Tommy Shaw taking the lead on the next two fan favorites of their set in “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “Fooling Yourself.” Just like during 38 Special’s set, the fans stood and sang along. The performance had a party-like atmosphere even during the slower tracks like “Lady.”

 

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

“Lorelei ” and “Miss America” took me to a point of reflecting back to my youth and the realization of how many great songs this band has produced throughout the years. You may not remember them by name but as soon as the opening notes are played, it all comes back.

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Lawrence Gowan (Photo-Travis Failey)

My appreciation of Styx and Lawrence Gowan grew even further when they played cover songs in tribute to the late Keith Emerson, Prince and David Bowie. Gowan was amazing while performing a truncated version of Prince’s “1999” and then Shaw joined Gowan with their version of Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” It was one of my favorite parts of the show, as Shaw and Gowan were together in perfect vocal harmony.

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Tommy Shaw & Ricky Phillips (Photo-Travis Failey)

Styx also incorporated various lighting schemes and backdrops for each song and by switching off between Gowan, Shaw and Young on lead vocals, their performance never achieved stale status.

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Chuck Panozzo & James Young (Photo-Travis Failey)

Styx also surprised the fans in the stands as original bassist Chuck Panozzo jammed with the band for a few songs at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Panozzo has been with Styx on and off due to illness and other reasons, with Ricky Phillips covering most of the bass duties since 2003.  The 67 year-old Panozzo hasn’t lost a beat and looked comfortable playing with his original Styx bandmate, guitarist James Young.

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Lawrence Gowan (Photo-Travis Failey)

Three of their most recognizable songs would complete the evening. “Come Sail Away,” was perfect lead in to the harder edged encore in “Rockin’ in Paradise,” and of course, a Styx show wouldn’t be complete without their rock anthem and jukebox staple “Renegade.”

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Tommy Shaw & Ricky Phillips (Photo-Travis Failey)

Styx gave their fans a night to remember at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Some fans that I talked to stated that Styx was their favorite band ever and after seeing them again as a headliner, I can understand why.

For more tour dates and info: http://styxworld.com/

For the setlist http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/styx/2016/ruth-eckerd-hall-clearwater-fl-2bf15c5a.html

 

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James Young (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Ricky Phillips & James Young (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Tommy Shaw (Photo-Travis Failey)

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James Young (Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

 

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