Styx + Tesla at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI!

07/06/18 – Styx + Joan Jett and the Blackhearts + Tesla @ DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkson, MI

Clarkston, Michigan (July 6, 2018) – As a music fan, you could not have asked for a better setting Friday night at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkson, MIWith Temps in the high 70’s and a gentle breeze, the conditions were perfect for a night of classic rock and roll. With super-group Styx headlining the evening’s festivities along with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and special guest Tesla, you knew it wouldn’t take long them to warm the cool night air!

After an abbreviated, yet highly entertaining eight-song set by Tesla and a pleasing 60 minutes from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the crowd on hand was ready to party. As the lights dimmed and the virtual explosion of lights and sound overtook the fans, the party was on!

On tour in support of their latest LP, The Mission, the band wasted no time giving their fans a sampling from it. “Gone, Gone, Gone” opened the 16 song set that was basically a non-stop hit parade of Styx classics. The non-stop run of “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)“, “The Grand Illusion“, “Lady“, “Light Up” and “Rockin’ the Paradise” were the first seven songs to get things started! There are not many artists today that can string that many hits together to open a show let alone have that many hits in their total library to fill an hour 30-minute set.

The reason they can do it? Styx is a tight group of talented musicians who have played together, in some instances, for decades. James ”JY” Young (guitar/vocals) last of the original touring members and Tommy Shaw (guitar/vocals) are the well-defined leaders while Rickey Phillips (bass/guitar/vocals) and Todd Sucherman (drums) supply the rhythm section the band relies on. Master showman Lawrence “Larry” Gowan (keyboards/vocals) handles lead vocals on select songs while doing things with his keyboards that leave fans astonished. Mix in a circus atmosphere with a pulsating light show and video screens that display anything from album covers to circus tents, you have a formula for success.

As well choreographed shows go, Styx gave their fans a break when they introduced “Radio Silence‘ off their latest release. A fantastic song in its own right that deserves better support, the crowd took the opportunity to relax just a bit before Young ripped into the opening chords of  “Miss America“. And just as they started the night, they were off again, on a run of hits that would fill the remainder of the set.

As the band grabbed a quick breather off stage after “Outpost“, James Young announced that a special guest would be joining the band on stage for “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”. When founding member Chuck Panozzo (bass) emerged from the shadows and strapped on his familiar bass guitar, a deafening roar ensued. After acknowledging his ageless fans, Panozzo joined the band and worked the stage side to side as if he never left. Playfully bantering with Young while trading guitar licks with Rickey Phillips, it was a genuine treat for all to see.

Just a quickly as the night started, the main set of the night was over. The crowd roared their approval and shouts of adulations echoed throughout the venue as the band headed backstage for a well-deserved breather. At this point most, hardcore fans know what songs the encore will hold. But everyone was wrong tonight. Styx reached back in their extensive music library and pulled out something that they hadn’t performed live in 35 years. “Mr. Roboto“.

When Gowan began the familiar opening notes on his keyboard and the fans realized what it was, the venue erupted. Based on the age diversity of the crowd, very few had ever heard “Mr. Roboto” performed live. It didn’t matter tonight as the crowd sang word for word right back at the band. To say this was the song of the night is a vast an understatement. The band lined up right across the stage and lit up the night in one of the most memorable performances of the year. It was total jubilation!

If you’re a fan of classic rock and roll and want to see it performed the way it was intended, “pay the price get your tickets for the show”.  Styx has defied time and their music has aged like fine wine. The 11000 people in attendance tonight all can’t be wrong, can they?

Styx:
     

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts:
     

Tesla:
     

DTE Energy Music Theater:
   

Author: John Swider

Senior Photojournalist — Portfolio

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