Instead of slowing down after huge summer tour, Styx is just getting started

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The ever-touring Styx, which is just coming off a massive summer jauntwith Ted Nugent and REO Speedwagon called the Midwest Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, isn’t slowing down. In fact, quite the contrary.

Fans west of the Mississippi will finally get a chance to see the in-concert performances of 1977’s The Grand Illusion and 1978’s Pieces of Eight in their entirety, as Styx celebrates the anniversary of their release through 2013. Styx will be appearing everywhere from Alaska to Arizona, and have recently added a pair of Las Vegas shows, to be held in mid-November. Complete concert listings are below.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Donald Gibson joined Styx co-founder James “J.Y.” Young for an SER Sitdown to talk about life on the road, and the band’s impact on pop culture.]

Amazingly, the current lineup of Young, Tommy Shaw, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips have performed more live dates since 1999 than all of the previous editions of Styx combined.

That’s left little time for studio work, with Styx’s only recent original output being a new song called “Difference in the World” for the Regeneration albums — which featured re-recordings their most recognizable songs with Gowan, who replaced founding frontman Dennis DeYoung. Styx’s latest DVD release showcases their live performances of The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight.

Here’s a look at our recent thoughts on and Styx. Click through the links for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: JAMES “J.Y.” YOUNG, CO-FOUNDER OF STYX: “I’ll be darn,” guitarist James “JY” Young says with a chuckle when told that Styx garnered praise recently from Rolling Stone, which cited the band’s current Midwest Rock ‘N’ Roll Express tour with REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent as among “The Ten Hottest Summer Package Tours of 2012.” “That’s a turnaround for Rolling Stone in relation to us, but who am I to disagree with them?” says Young, who has been in the band from the beginning. Truth be told, Styx have never been critical darlings, but throughout a 40-year-career that’s withstood various personnel changes and creative conflicts, the band has sold over 30 million albums and continues to draw sold-out audiences across the country.

STYX – THE GRAND ILLUSION/ PIECES OF EIGHT LIVE DVD/Blu-ray (2012): At the moment of Styx’s earliest breakout successes, as it achieved these first- and second-ever triple platinum-selling albums, the band was already starting to go its separate ways. 1977’s Grand Illusion was the first to fully spotlight the trademark elements of both Dennis DeYoung and relative newcomer Tommy Shaw, and already you could see where Styx would eventually come to a fork in the proverbial road musically. Tracks like “Miss America” were brawny, six-string rockers, yet you also had the title track and the opening stanzas of “Come Sail Away,” Styx’s second Top 10 hit, which became showcases for DeYoung’s preening Broadway affectations. At the time, this seemed like the kind of creative tension that might keep the band working at a high level. In truth, the center could not hold.

ONE TRACK MIND: STYX, “DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD” (2011): There’s a world-weary melancholy, a hard-won realism, to Styx’s new song that didn’t exist in Tommy Shaw’s fun-rocking “Renegade” days, and that points the way out of the band’s more recent habit of backtracking. It’s not just the rest of Regeneration, Vols. I and II, which finds Styx rerecording some of its best-known tracks with next-generation singer Lawrence Gowan. In fact, since the departure in 1999 of Dennis DeYoung, Shaw and Co. have issued five concert recordings and — in the last four years alone — at least seven best-of packages. Styx’s most recent original long-player was Big Bang Theory from all the way back in 2005, leaving many to wonder if the group was spent creatively. Fast forward to “Difference in the World,” as Shaw, over a plaintive guitar shape, admits: “It’s hard to keep from giving up. It’s hard to make a difference in the world today.” But, through the course of a complex and involving musical soundtrack, Shaw rouses himself to try again — in a nice metaphor for the band itself.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST – STYX: A band suspended forever between the formalism of Dennis DeYoung’s Broadway pretensions and the harder edges of James Young and Tommy Shaw, Styx sounded different every time it came on the radio. Yet, critics insisted, somehow the same: Mediocre. They were, by turns, soft-prog keyboard-tweaking intellectuals, CroMagnon guitar shredders and dorky show-tune pompsters … though with very little circumstance. Every gesture, as Lester Bangs once wrote, is writ huge — to the point of flatulence. (DeYoung knows he’s not English, right?) That makes them easy to hate, or love, or whatever. They were, at once, everything … and thus, to many, nothing. Yet … how many times have we turned this stuff up? Here, we sort through it all (the adult-contemporary crap, the hair-sprayed arena rock, the robot thing) to uncover a few clues to Styx’s enduring fame — from ‘Equinox,’ ‘Crystal Ball,’ ‘Grand Illusion,’ ‘Paradise Theater’ and, yes, even ‘Kilroy Was Here.’

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Here are the dates, cities and venues for Styx’s on-going tour:

Fri 8/24: Boise, ID, Western Idaho Fair
Sat 8/25: Albany, OR, Oregon Amphitheatre
Sun 8/26: Palmer, AK, Alaska State Fair
Mon 8/27: Monroe, WA, Evergreen State Fair
Fri 8/31: Marshfield, WI, Central Wisconsin State Fair
Sat 9/1: New Lenox, IL, New Lenox Commons
Sun 9/2: Wauseon, OH, Fulton County Fair
Thu 9/6: Lincoln, CA, Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Fri 9/7: Madera, CA, Madera District Fair
Sat 9/8: Pomona, CA, LA County Fair
Sun 9/9: Saratoga, CA, Mountain Winery
Tue 9/11: Redding, CA, Cascade Theatre
Thu 9/13: Spokane, WA, Interstate Fair
Sat 9/15: Deadwood, SD, Deadwood Jam
Thu 10/4-6: Niagara Falls, ON, Avalon Theatre at Fallsview Casino
Thu 10/11: Sewell, NJ, TD Bank Arts Centre
Fri 10/12: Wabash, IN, Honeywell Center
Sun 10/14: Reading, PA, Sovereign Performing Arts Center
Fri 10/26: Harris, MI, Island Resort and Casino
Sat 10/27: Harris, MI, Island Resort and Casino
Thu 11/8: Nashville, TN, Ryman Auditorium
Fri 11/9: Biloxi, MS, Hard Rock Casino & Resort
Wed 11/14: Provo, UT, Covey Center for the Arts
Fri 11/16: Las Vegas, NV, The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort
Sat 11/17: Las Vegas, NV, The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort
Sun 11/18: Scottsdale, AZ, Talking Stick Resort

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