On November 9, 2010, Styx followed the lead of many notable classic rockers, including Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel and Cheap Trick, by bringing not one (unlike those artists), but two of their biggest albums to the stage in their entirety during the same show. The albums in question were 1977's The Grand Illusion and 1978's Pieces Of Eight. The show, entitled Styx -- The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live, was recorded and previously released in a number of formats, including DVD/CD, but this release marks its first appearance as a standalone two-CD set.
The show was recorded at the historic Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN, and finds the band in fine form. The band plays the albums chronologically, opening with an over-the-top rendition of "The Grand Illusion." Keyboardist and vocalist, Lawrence Gowan, who has been with the band well over a decade, has the daunting task of replicating Dennis DeYoung's original vocals and does so admirably.
"Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" follows and quickly demonstrates singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw's voice has lost nothing to time. It's pretty remarkable how close to the records his renditions of not only this song, but Pieces of Eight's "Renegade" and "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" are.
Gowan offers a strong, if not quite as distinctive as DeYoung's, vocal on "Come Sail Away," that finds the band otherwise closely replicating the studio version. James "JY" Young's spirited take on "Miss America" is a highlight of the set. The band sounds as if they are having fun with the track and through the show in general.
While he doesn't play throughout the whole show, Chuck Panozzo, the band's original bassist, joins in on a number of tracks, lending more validity to the performance of these classic albums. Sadly, Panozzo's brother John, who was the band's original drummer, died in 1996, dashing fans' hopes of a reunion tour from the classic lineup. Todd Sucherman, who has also played with Brian Wilson, has been the band's drummer since 1997 and is an excellent drummer in his own right.
Styx may not have its entire classic lineup intact, but they still deliver fine live performances. Fans of the band, and, in particular, The Grand Illusion and Pieces Of Eight, will find much to enjoy with Styx -- The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight Live.