Whoever schedules the concerts for the Stark County Fair really hit the ball out of the park this year. 70’s and 80’s rock hit makers STYX came to town and put on a memorable show.
From 1976 to 1983 the band had a string of hit albums and songs, legendary albums, legendary songs, and on Thursday night they brought all those hits and so much more to the stage in Canton Ohio.
Playing to a capacity crowd the seven-member ensemble rocked their way through a treasure trove of sing-along classics and quickly had the audience eating out of their hands. They also played a sampling of their new stuff from their latest effort CRASH OF THE CROWN which was released in 2021.
As you might suspect though – it was the hits from back in the day that really got the fans rocking and dancing. The sound mix was utter perfection with the vocals and instruments blending perfectly – sometimes with large outdoor venues that sound mix can get away from bands but STYX sounded just as crisp and clean as if they were playing the stage at the old Richfield Coliseum, which was the last place this fan saw the band back in the late 70’s.
First, let’s state the obvious – Tommy Shaw is a force of nature. While not a founding member of the band, his addition in 1975 certainly changed the sound and direction the band would become famous for and on this night he was nothing short of spectacular. The 69-year-old guitarist and co-lead vocalist is every bit as energetic and vibrant as he was nearly 50 years ago when I witnessed him for the first time. Taking the lead during rock anthems like BLUE COLLAR MAN, TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS, and RENEGADE – all high points of a show full of high points.
Also on vocals – and performing all the songs that were sung by Dennis DeYoung back in the day is Lawrence Gowan. Stationing himself behind a pretty cool spinning keyboard Gowan is non-stop entertainment and makes anchoring a major touring classic rock band look easy. Truly a pleasure to watch him work. Two founding members of the band are still at it – guitarist James Young and bassist Chuck Panozzo and both are playing every bit as good now as they ever have. It is iconic to see them both still sharing the stage. Drummer Todd Sucherman has been with the band since 1995 and in my opinion, is one of the best drummers sitting behind a kit these days. He is very active on social media and if you don’t follow him – you should do that right now – this man is a beast and played a fantastic set on this gorgeous Ohio night – something I think he manages to do anytime there is a drumstick in his hands.
As you might imagine – the final few numbers brought the house down – COME SAIL AWAY, MR. ROBOTO, and RENEGADE. The band kept their stage show flashy but not overly so – lots of lights and smoke – 70’s staples – but when all that smoke cleared it was the amazing talent and the legacy of the songs that everyone left the fairgrounds talking and thinking about. A great performance from a Rock Hall worthy act – we should make that happen soon.
The following montage video was put together by Ed Balint – I’m posting this in place of a photo gallery for the time being. Ed is an amazing talent who works for the local newspaper The Canton Repository and was kind enough to grant me permission to use it. You should totally follow his YouTube Channel because well – he’s a pretty great guy.