By Matt “Rabit” Martinez
Growing up riding in my mom’s minivan, there was one band that she would always play on the radio more than any other. The legendary band Styx. It’s her favorite band in the world and has grown to be one of mine. I have been lucky enough to see Styx live countless amounts of times, and many of those times was with my mom. However, out of all these times I had never seen the original line up as one man was always missing. When I found out that Dennis DeYoung was bringing his Grand Illusion Tour to my area and performing the Grand Illusion album in its entirety along with a slew of other Styx classics, I could not pass up the chance the catch this legendary man.
July 7th 1977, Styx drops their first album to break the US Billboard top 10 spot. Landing on number 6 and an album that holds some of the most memorable hits Styx has ever written, The Grand Illusion made its way to the public. To celebrate this historic album Dennis DeYoung has been touring celebrating its 40th anniversary by playing it in its entirety. Coming out on stage to the opening track “The Grand Illusion” the audience was ready for a night of classic rock already on their feet. DeYoung took center stage wearing a military captain style jacket, with perfectly quaffed hair looking like a silver fox and flanked by guitarist August Zadra and Jimmy Leahey. Though DeYoung is now 71, he has not lost a step on stage. Dancing around and moving from side to side like any younger performer, as well as sounding just like he did on the original album 40 years ago.
As they moved through The Grand Illusion album playing songs like “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” and “Miss America” guitarist August Zadra took over the role of Tommy Shaw by taking lead vocals on the songs Shaw sang on the album, and Jimmy Leahey taking on the role of James Young for his vocal parts. Once DeYoung started the opening keyboard notes to “Come Sail Away” the audience erupted with joy. You could hear the entire theatre singing along with the song so loudly that it almost over took DeYoung’s vocals coming out of the speakers. Ending the album with “The Grand Finale,” DeYoung and company left the stage for a 20-minute intermission where they would come back for even more Styx classics.
Packing the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, CA, Dennis DeYoung was there to transport the audience through the ages of Styx Classics. Coming back out to perform nine of the biggest hits Styx has ever put out. Starting the second half the show with one of my favorites “Lorelei,” though DeYoung sings vocals and does keyboard for this song, he was still center stage while John Blasucci covered the keyboard part beautifully. A classic that Styx no longer performs, but is one of their most iconic songs, it was amazing to see DeYoung perform “Mr. Roboto.” Moving around the stage like a robot and getting Zadra & Leahey in on the movements, even bringing out the Roboto mask. As the night went on, we got some of the best songs Dennis DeYoung had to offer during his tenure in Styx including “Suite Madame Blue,” “Best of Times,” and Styx’s only #1 hit “Babe.” Which the latter was written for his wife Suzanne DeYoung, who was singing backing vocals for the band that night. Ending this magical evening with one of the hardest rock songs Styx put out “Renegade.” Many fans in the crowd rushed the front of the stage dancing, singing, and jumping to the man who penned some of the greatest songs that they grew up with.
Full Dennis DeYoung slide show below:
As I watched the show and looked around the crowd I could see fans of all ages. Members of the audience who were the same age as DeYoung, fans who were in high school during Styx’s hay day like my mom, and fans in their 20’s and younger like myself. I truly believe this was a magical evening as the music that DeYoung created is timeless and can reach anyone no matter their age. For me this was a night to remember as I got to experience it with my mom, the woman who introduced me to the magic of Dennis DeYoung and Styx.