Lonestar 92.5 Bo & Jim Bash VII!!!
With the Summer concert series in full swing, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex got a good dose of rock-n-roll this past Sunday night at the Toyota Music Factory. Progressive rock maestros Styx rolled through town and brought along old friends Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Tesla. With a little something for every fan, this show promised to rock all night long.
I’m never going to get tired of seeing Tesla so I looked forward to another set from these California boys. Working now into their thirty-first year, they might have flown under the radar on the charts but they continue to crank out new music while pleasing their older fans with classic after classic. Kicking it off with the relatively unknown “I Wanna Live” from their 2008 Forever More album, Jeff Keith vocals were as crazy as ever while Frank Hannon needed zero time to start wailing away on his guitar. Bassist Brian Wheat actually took the stage wearing his trademark sport coat but it lasted only three songs in the searing Texas heat. His bass intro to “Hang Tough” was perfect as always while Frank and Dave Rude took turns shredding during “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)”.
It’s such a joy to watch Jeff roam all over the stage and sing his heart out especially during the slower “What You Give” from 1991’s Psychotic Supper. This song was made even more special with the video screens in the background displaying all sorts of old photos of the band from times gone by. Frank’s acoustic efforts kicked off Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs” while the audience sang louder than ever before as his easy transitions between acoustic/electric guitars still mesmerize me to this day. Troy Lucketta is barely visible behind his massive drum kit but he was banging away expertly all set long. “Love Song” once again featured a really sweet solo by Frank and it gave way to Dave’s scorching guitar work during “Little Suzi”. Ending with their most popular song to date, “Modern Day Cowboy”, Tesla went out with a bang as this night’s version was sonically booming as both Dave & Frank ripped through the song like there was no tomorrow.
As I was browsing through Wikipedia the other day, I stumbled across the definition for “cool” and I swear there was a picture of Joan Jett next to it. Seriously, if I’m 1/10th as cool as her someday I’ll consider that an achievement. As if being named one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 guitarist of all time and being inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame wasn’t enough, Joan continues to put out new music, produce and act. Tonight was all about the music though and she did not disappoint the packed venue!!! Opening with 1980’s “Bad Reputation”, Joan and her band hit the ground running and never slowed down. The only thought that came to my mind as she broke a guitar string halfway through the first song was = “she’s punk as shit!!!”
What came after that was a career full of hit after hit plus a few new cover tunes thrown in for good measure. She touched on some of her earliest work with The Runaways (“Cherry Bomb” and the first song she ever wrote “You Drive Me Wild”), a ton of solo songs and quite a few cover tunes that she has made her own. “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” sent the audience into a frenzy as Joan and her guitar mate Dougie Needles took turns thrilling the crowd. Movie clips from The Light of Day flashed across the screens as she led the Blackhearts through Bruce Springsteen’s title song. They played a very solid new tune (Fresh Start”) from her upcoming documentary entitled Bad Reputation that the audience immediately fell in love with. The cover tunes (once again you’d swear were her originals because she made them even more famous) “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by The Arrows and “Crimson & Clover” by Tommy James & the Shondells were pure perfection. There were barely any people left in their seats during the first one and then as soon as the unmistakable intro began to the latter – it was pure craziness down front. The guitars were on fire, the audience was loudly singing the “ba da da da da da” parts and the whole place was rocking out to this classic tune. Merely acting like she was leaving the stage was enough to send the crowd screaming for more and the band obliged by playing two more cover songs (“Real Wild Child and “Everyday People”) before leaving the audience worn out from the rock fest they just were treated to.
If you have ever been to a Styx concert, I would place a sure bet that you’ve never been let down. These guys went a long time between new albums (2005-2017) but continued to tour playing their immense list of greatest hits. However; they are now touring in support of that new album, The Mission, and the audience was really receptive to the new tunes played on this night. Opening with one of those new songs, “Gone, Gone, Gone”, Styx appeared on stage one member at a time to thunderous applause. With barely a moment’s pause, they launched right into “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” with the audience shouting out while Tommy Shaw played guitar & sang his heart out. The drum work of Todd Sucherman and the keys of lead vocalist Lawrence Gowan kicked off the exquisite “The Grand Illusion” (forty years old now) as it felt like the roof might just blow off the place. This song just seems larger and louder each time I hear it played in concert.
One note into “Lady”, the lady (no pun intended) sitting next to me screamed OMG and jumped about two feet into the air as Shaw ventured out with some more great guitar playing. The harmonizing vocals were crisp & clear while Sucherman hit all of the little bells & chimes perfectly. James Young introduced “Light Up” while encouraging the audience to use their cell phone lights to illuminate the venue – his vocals during this one were great and he looked like he was having the time of his life. Up next, “Rockin’ in Paradise” was played at volume 11 as Lawrence was running all over the stage, Young had another great solo and the audience members were screaming out the lyrics as best they could.
The addition of the new material did nothing to dampen the audience’s enthusiasm as sometimes happen when classic rock bands interject their set list with new stuff. “Radio Silence” was magnificent and “The Outpost” showed that Styx still has something new to offer up for their fans. Ending their set with three more solid classics, “Fooling Yourself”, “Too Much Time on My Hands” and “Come Sail Away” (have you ever heard Cartman’s rendition?), Styx never slowed down and the audience was living it up throughout the night. A short break left me wondering what else they could play for an encore and my question was soon answered with superb versions of “Mr. Roboto” and (almost everybody’s) favorite “Renegade. Styx showed no signs of wear blazing through these two hits and the appreciative audience was probably sad to see the show end. If you have always loved their music but never saw them in concert – do yourself a great service and make it out next time these guys hit your town.