Although they've changed lead singers, 70s rock group Styx have managed to carry on based on a string of popular albums from the late '70s and '80s. And it's that time frame which the group, now with singer Lawrence Gowan taking over from Dennis DeYoung, are celebrating with this live concert. Performing two albums -- The Grand Illusion and Pieces Of Eight -- in their entirety, the group comes off as the seasoned rockers, nothing over the top but nothing musically falling off the rails.
Opening with a Star Wars-like introduction which sets the scene, the band takes the Orpheum Stage in Memphis with guns blazing for "The Grand Illusion" and then "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)." However Styx acknowledge the fact that some of these songs have never been played before, resulting in these figuratively old dogs learning or relearning some old songs like the dreamy "Superstars." The first real highlight though is "Come Sail Away" with Gowan's ivory tickling kicking things off before standing atop his keyboard like he's riding a wave.
As with several concert DVDs (in this case a DVD/2-CD set), there's not much left to chance, with the band hitting their stage cues and a slick, polished stage production. A cute video spot also shows them flipping the vinyl over on the record player to the second side. Guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young shine on the up-tempo "Miss America" while Shaw refers to opening for Kansas (the band, not the state) as inspiration for the softer ballad "Man In The Wilderness" which comes off as average.
Styx fare just as well with Pieces Of Eight as "Great White Hope," a galloping nugget that has a hint of The Who's theatrics while "I'm Okay" plods along and is, well, okay. In fact some of the material has not aged well, especially "Lords Of The Rings" with its faux sense of drama. Gowan, occasionally acting like a mad court jester, kicks off a solid "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" before the greying crowd laps up "Queen Of Spades."
Perhaps the real kicker here is the behind-the-scenes bonus feature showing the often unheralded roadies putting things together. Interviews with the roadies describe a day in their lives which aren't mesmerizing but show what makes it all work.
Overall the package is perfect for fans of late '70s rock from a band that exemplifies that era.