Naming your band after the river of transiting souls is cool when you’re 20, but it takes on a decidedly ominous edge when you’re 60-ish and you’ve lost your drummer to alcohol abuse, your founding bassist is HIV positive and one of your defining songs is titled “Come Sail Away.” And so it was with no little sense of urgency that band founders J.Y. Young, Chuck Panozzo and early add-on rock idol Tommy Shaw took the stage.
It’s easy to mock Styx, whose pop-rock-with-delusions-of-prog-rock-grandeur dominated album-oriented radio through the late ’70s and early ’80s, but there was no denying the rejuvenating power of power chords on this night. Shaw’s voice stood up, as did the crowd, fervently fist-pumping to “Man in the Wilderness” and nodding sagely at “Crystal Ball.” Thankfully, they skipped “Mr. Roboto.” Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan’s rambling monologue about “deep philosophical songs” served only to stall the therapy and accentuate their sophomoric lyrics. One frustrated fan shouted, “Just play it!” Once they did, the fans and the band got the show they needed. ★★★☆☆