Saturday, May 09, 2015

Styx concert review, Pittsburgh, Stage AE, 5-8-15

Gigi and I zipped down to the Styx concert last night at Stage AE. 

Styx is best seen as a headlining act.  I prefer them immensely more when they're doing an entire concert rather than being sandwiched in between Night Ranger and Foreigner.  Ya know what I mean? 

I've seen them a few times.  Once in 2004 at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling and they were really impressive.  No ticket stub.  I vaguely recall walking right past the ticket scanner dude while clutching a draft beer.  The crowd was electric that night.  I also saw them at Wheeling Island Stadium with REO Speedwagon in 2009.  This was one of those embarrassing concerts where all the Wheeling bigwigs show up and were forced to intermix with the Island rats.  And get their classic groove-on with the Bell-Dirtiers.  A rare conflagration of Ohio Valley entities --- upper echelon, East Ohio rednecks and WV hillbillies.  There's gonna be a party.

A fond recollection from the Capitol Music Hall performance: one of our friends (who I usually refer to as "man-boy lovechild") was trying to impress a young lady with his stellar "credentials" --- a backstage pass indicating some kind of laminated security access to a deluxe port-a-potty.  As he was trying to sway the attention of this young hottie, I entered the fray and asked him if he could get "Styx to sign my cock."  The girl laughed and turned her attention towards me which temporarily infuriated his sensibilities.  What can I say?  I personally thought it was hysterical.

After she left, he said, "Saf, why do you always fuck with me like that.  It's just not cool!"  I replied, "Hey man, I just wanted the band members to autograph my dick.  Is that really asking too much?"  Funny shit.  At least I think so. 

So what about the show last night?  Let's do a brief run-thru.  Suffice to say, these guys are legit rock stars.  Every band member has an over-the-top level of enthusiasm without appearing overtly silly.  Tons of energy.   The first few songs were exceptionally solid.  Grand Illusion is such a strong choice for an opener.   Followed by Too Much Time On My Hands.  I'm not normally a huge fan of cover tunes, but the Beatles rip off of "I am the Walrus" was a worthwhile endeavor.  Unfortunately, the Lawrence Gowan keyboard medley-mashup towards the end was a little too hokey.  A cornball rendition of snippets from the Stones, Paul McCartney and Queen.  Well executed but kind of zany.  Just not my cup of tea.  If this was actual tea, I'd compare it to that spiced mandarin orange crap in our kitchen.  I prefer grandma's tea, King Diamond style.  Now that is a fine cup of tea.  Also, peppermint and Earl Grey.

One observation and suggestion: If you're going to heavily utilize synthesizers, it's actually cool to go overboard.  I wish Tommy Shaw (lead vocal, guitars) would incorporate his solo tune "Girls With Guns" into the tour.  It's one of those hidden gems of the mid-1980's.  A diamond in the rough song popularized when Crockett and Tubbs ventured into the everglades to rescue some girl that was kidnapped.  Check it.

Honestly, how fucking cool was that 3 minute version of "I can't believe it's not a crockett of tubbs" driving down I-95?

And guess who snagged a Tommy Shaw guitar pic.  Yep, the evil one himself... sonofsaf.

Here's a humorous Miami Vice anecdote.  A couple years ago I was at Gigi's family Christmas dinner and they were discussing the movie Elf.  I chimed in, "Oh, I'm a huge fan of Elf.  That show was way ahead of its time.  Very futuristic.  So much vision."  Everyone looked at me like I was a complete imbecile.  Gigi figured out the misinterpretation and said, "He thinks you're talking about Alf the sitcom... not Elf the movie."  Several people chuckled.  For some reason, we thought it downright was hysterical.  I guess you had to be there.  Or maybe not.

So here's the full setlist.

The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time on My Hands
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Man in the Wilderness
I'm O.K.
Light Up
I Am the Walrus
Suite Madame Blue


Miss America
Crystal Ball
Pieces of Eight
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Come Sail Away

* Rockin' the Paradise
* Renegade

Guess who snagged a setlist?  Yep, G.  Just the second half though.

Anyway, since this is a review about Styx playing in the shadow of Heinz Field (the Rooney super-colliding cauldron of pain and punishment).  Well... no critique would be complete without a super-cool link to Renegade.  The band is accompanied by the Cleveland Youth Symphony Orchestra.  This entire concert is well worth the watch.  More bands should try stuff like this.

And since were talkin' Steelers, I might as well mention how this morning, I spoke briefly with Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley regarding my concerns about obsolete NFL stadium emergency evacuation protocol.  I intentionally ran into them at a 5K Walk for the Homeless.  They sponsor it every year in tandem with a religious Baptist affiliate on the North Side.  I'm not sure if all the overt references to Christ being battered and bludgeoned to death were necessary... but hey, I get it.  I've sacrificed for my cause as well.  Certainly not to the extent of Jesus Christ dying for the sins of mankind, but a lot of people do make condescending remarks.  The Wheeling police department used to call me "manifesto fucktard."

One funny anecdote --- KDKA weather forecaster Dennis Bowman was on stage and remarked about how he has been around a lot longer than Tunch or Wolf.  He even said, and I quote, "They tallied the number of shows I've done... Sixty six thousand, six hundred (hint - that's 66,600)."  I think he may have been making a slight mockery of all the excessive Christian brainwashin' goin' on with a subtle 666 reference.  Regrettably, only me and him picked up on the quick, verbal jab.

I spoke with others as well.  Among them, Pittsburgh City Council person Natalia Rudiak and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.  She was incredibly pleasant and receptive.  Give her your vote.  On the other hand, there was Fitzgerald.  He listened but honestly didn't give a shit.  Do not vote for this man.

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