By Daniel Turner
With a musical career spanning 51 years and a discography consisting of 17 studio albums, 9 live albums, 16 compilation albums, 39 singles, and 3 EPs, Styx is an amazingly accomplished band. Their latest release “Crash of the Crown”, the title track from their 2021 album reached #1 in the rock category of Amazon Music upon its release, then in 2022 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Most bands would be happy to sit back and reflect on an amazing career, but not Styx.
When I arrived to the historic Township Auditorium in downtown Columbia, SC, parking was a hot commodity and the line of people waiting to get into the venue stretched down the block. If iconic prog rock band Styx hadn’t sold out the venue there certainly weren’t many tickets left by the looks of things. The show was even delayed a bit to make sure that everyone got into the venue and got their seats. Finally, the house lights dimmed and the stage lights came up. “COLUMBIA SOUTH CAROLINA… ARE YOU READY FOR A ROCK SHOW?” The question was answered by a deafening roar from the crowd.
The band’s first song of the night “To Those” off of their latest album Crash of the Crown had the first row of fans on their feet and at the stage in no time. It was also quickly apparent that we were in for a full audio-visual experience. Todd Sucherman’s drum riser was flanked on either side by LED video walls, and stairs on both ends of the stage led up to a platform behind him. Tommy Shaw who was prominently positioned on stage left would end up in a spotlight on the aforementioned platform during more than one guitar solo throughout the night. Over at stage right Lawrence Gowan occupied a short round platform with a post mounted rotating keyboard that would add some spice to what is typically a stationary instrument. To the left of the keyboard platform was guitar player Will Evankovich, with Ricky Phillips, and James Young positioned in front of the drum riser. Not much about the show was stationary though, these guys move around the stage more than bands half their age! The production values were second only to the music. Styx absolutely delivered on their promise of a rock show. Even in the balcony seats ear plugs were almost a necessity.
The second set of the night saw the band bring out founding member and bass player Chuck Panozzo to split duties with bass player Ricky Phillips. Flanked by Chuck, the only consistent original member of Styx, James Young, was still going strong on the guitar. Towards the end of the set Lawrence Gowan got his time to shine as well as a standing ovation after playing “Khedive”. He was then joined by Chuck Panozzo for “Lost at Sea” leading into the iconic hit “Come Sail away”. During “Come Sail Away” the band let the crowd take the chorus and they easily matched the volume of the band. The stage lights dimmed as Styx left the stage but the crowd was eager for more. After a few minutes of cheering and chanting the band came back out and played what may be the best encore I’ve ever heard. First up was the smash hit “Mr. Roboto” followed by my absolute favorite Styx song “Renegade”.
It was amazing to see such an iconic act still packing venues and wowing fans after all these years.