February 28, 2015
Billy Bob's Texas
Fort Worth, TX USA
Review by Andy Laudano
Photos by Brooke Adams
Styx Brings The Grand Illusion To Cowtown Texas
Not snow, ice or freezing cold temperatures could keep Fort Worth fans from coming out to the historic Billy Bob's Texas to see one of the truly great American rock bands, Chicago's Styx. It's a testament to the band's showmanship and their enduring catalog of music that so many fans would brave the elements to see a band that not only tours the area regularly, but often comes through multiple times in a year. In fact, Styx will return to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex later this year on tour with Def Leppard and Tesla. A lesser band's fans might have looked outside and thought, "I'll just catch them next time." Not Styx fans.
It might seem odd to some for a rock band to play a country venue like Billy Bob's. It's a bit of a culture shock at first and the table seating is really cramped, but it does offer you the chance to see bands in a much more intimate, up close and personal setting.
Styx kicked things off with the title track to 1977's The Grand Illusion LP. The Tommy Shaw anthem, "Too Much Time On My Hands" followed as the crowd clapped and sang along. Then came the first surprise of the night as original bassist Chuck Panozzo took the stage to play "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" with the band while current bass player Ricky Phillips switched to a double neck. Due to health issues, Panozzo only makes a few rare, live appearances. He would return again later in the show.
One of the great things about seeing Styx, and another reason fans continue to come out and see them after all these years, is they don't only play the big hits. They like to change up the set list and play some deep album cuts. After a couple jokes about drugs in the 70's, guitarist/co-founder James "J.Y." Young took us back to 1975's Equinox album and sang "Light Up." Fellow guitarist Tommy Shaw followed up with a couple of my personal favorites, The Grand Illusion's "Man In The Wilderness" and "Lights" from 1979's Cornerstone album. Drummer Todd Sucherman really shined on that one.
Another interesting song choice was the inclusion of what they called a "Styxafied" cover of The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus." Styx debuted the over in Dallas, at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004. After another favorite from Tommy Shaw, "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," the band left the stage except for keyboardist Lawrence Gowan. He got the crowd even more fired up with a short sing along medley of snippets from Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale," The Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" before the rest of the band, including Panozzo, returned to close the show with "Come Sail Away," dedicated to the late Leonard Nimoy.