April 23, 2013 – On Friday night, Dennis DeYoung brought The Music of Styx to Massey Hall, one of T-MAK World’s favorite concert venues in Toronto. The 66 year old DeYoung, who hails from Chicago, is a founding member from when the band was called “The Tradewinds” before they changed their name in 1972.
Styx was one of the biggest Rock bands in the late 70s and early 80s with 4 consecutive albums certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. Why is DeYoung bringing The Music of Styx and not the band Styx itself to Massey Hall? Like a couple other big acts of that era, Supertramp and Pink Floyd, Styx featured 2 singers. The main lead singer and song writer was DeYoung. The other was Tommy Shaw, a guitarist who joined in 1976 after guitarist John Curulewski left the band. Like Supertramp and Pink Floyd, creative differences had the main singer parting way with the rest of the band.
Luckily for fans, DeYoung hasn’t parted ways with The Music of Styx. DeYoung has toured in the past with an orchestral arrangement of Styx’s music including a stop at Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre. Starting in 2010, DeYoung put together a rock band that plays songs from both DeYoung’s solo work and Styx. The band captures the mix of progressive, hard rock and power ballads with the sense of a theatrical show that Styx fans were drawn to.
From the beginning one can see that DeYoung hasn’t lost a step and still has a plethora of energy. Styx first played Massey Hall in 1976 showcasing their new album “Crystal Ball”. According to Setlist.fm the set list that night started showcased songs from that album as well as a couple of their hits.
Set List from 1976:
1. Put Me On
5. Light Up
6. Suite Madame Blue
7. Crystal Ball
8. Claire de Lune
10. Midnight Ride
11. Guitar Solo
12. 22 Years
Flash forward to 2013 and DeYoung has a large collection of top 10 hits to draw from and a large collection of hits that fans want to see performed. DeYoung didn’t disappoint as he played the big songs that fans wanted to see as opposed to some artists who play their favorite or their latest songs, completely ignoring the audience.
1. The Grand Illusion (Styx song)
2. Lady (Styx song)
3. Lorelei (Styx song)
4. Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) (Styx song)
5. Show Me the Way (Styx song)
6. Mr. Roboto (Styx song)
7. Desert Moon
8. Born for Adventure (Styx song)
9. Don’t Let It End (Styx song)
9. Too Much Time on My Hands (Styx song)
10. Rockin’ the Paradise (Styx song)
11. Babe (Styx song)
12. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) (Styx song)
13. Prelude 12 (Styx song)
14. Suite Madame Blue (Styx song)
15. The Best of Times (Styx song)
16. The End (The Beatles cover)
17. Renegade (Styx song)
18. Come Sail Away (Styx song)
DeYoung is undoubtedly one of the best singers, keyboardist and showman touring today and builds a great rapport with the audience. After starting out with “The Grand Illusion”, a fitting song to start a show and three other hits, DeYoung was aware of the great history of the building he was in. He made reference to the 1976 Styx show after poking fun at Massey Hall by stating he had “only one complaint, that this place has no history” and “oh wait didn’t Mozart play here” which drew a chuckle from the audience. He also showed his great sense of humour by asking the audience who is seeing him for the first time. After applause he stated where have you been as he is 66 years old.
DeYoung continued with more hits from Styx, more references to the original Massey Hall show, more stories and laughs about Styx. He also played one song from his solo work, Desert Moon. Before playing Desert Moon, DeYoung noted that the only Gold or Platinum Album from his solo work and it do not come his home country. That album was Desert Moon and Canada was the country.
DeYoung’s current band includes August Zadra on lead guitar as well as singing Tommy Shaw’s songs, Jimmy Leahey on guitars, Tommy Sharpe on drums, Craig Carter on bass and John Blasucci on keyboards. During the introductions DeYoung also let the audience know that Styx’s biggest hit, Babe, wasn’t supposed to be a Styx song at all, but a present for a girl he met at a high school dance. DeYoung introduced that girl, his wife of 43 years, Suzanne DeYoung who is also in the band as a backup singer.
The highlight of the night came at the end as the crowd gathered in the front of the stage for two encores and it went from an evening of The Music of Styx to a Rock show and even DeYoung seemed to feed off that energy.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 – DeYoung delivered on The Music of Styx. As one of the audience members who was seeing DeYoung for the first time, in the same location they played in 1976, it was easy to close ones eyes and believe that you were back at the original Styx show. Kudos to Massey Hall for bringing one of the icons of melodic progressive rock away from the casinos where they often tour these days and into a suitable venue.
For those who haven’t seen DeYoung ever or since the 1976 show, get out and see him next time he’s back in Toronto, hopefully as another return to Massey Hall.