Waiting for my ticket, I overheard the lady at the customer service booth at Moda Center say that only 3,500 tickets were pre sold for these very popular 70s-80s mega stars. Our seats were fantastic, slightly stage right, just a level or two off of the floor. The floor seating consisted of about 200 collapsible floor chairs, and the people in this older crowd were sitting. They were sitting that is until the lights lit up and the incredible voice of the 69-year old Denis DeYoung proclaimed: “WELCOME TO THE GRAND ILLUSION…..” The crowd jumped to their feet with shrieks of excitement and familiarity. Dressed in a classic black partial suit with a bright red shirt and red shoes…a bit thin, but with a voice that time had not touched, Dennis DeYoung asked the crowd, “Portland, can you come out to play?” Both guitar players looked exactly like Tommy Shaw from a distance and both were excellent. The stage was simple, with the focus on the drum set that simply read, “Kilroy.” There was a very beautiful lady background singer, who we didn’t find out until later, was Mr. DeYoung’s wife of over 45 years.
DeYoung sang the classic hits and stayed relatively true to the recordings. Four songs in, DeYoung held up a Kilroy mask for all to worship as the song “Mr. Roboto” began. “He loves Portland,” DeYoung said. “He went to the Blues Festival last night.” DeYoung shuffled across the stage as a robot throughout the enjoyable song (however its always been my least favorite Styx song). Six songs in, the beautiful piano intro to “Babe” started. “I wrote this song for my wife to get out of buying jewelry for our anniversary and it was never supposed to be a Styx song. The label heard it and it went straight to #1. I’d like you to meet my wife of 46 years, Susanna.” She gracefully stepped down from her background singer pedestal and they exchanged an embrace and a kiss, and it was a very touching moment. After a few more highly recognizable songs, “Renegade” brought the crowd back to their feet. It was during this heavy-back-in-the-day song that I took a manicured nail to the head from the very excited lady to my left who decided her personal dance floor spanned from her seat, across 55Dimes’ seat, into mine. The last injury I had was at Slayer, but grandmas with nicely manicured pointy nails, who have had too much beer and are reliving their love of Styx, can be brutal. DeYoung ended the show with “Come Sail Away,” and to a standing ovation. DeYoung said, “We know the economy is tight, on behalf of us and Boston, we thank you for coming.” I had seen DeYoung before, and was again amazed at his vocal perfection. He is energetic, charismatic, personable, likable, 100% true to the music of Styx, and surrounds himself with incredible musicians. Mr. DeYoung is an amazing performer and it was a highly enjoyable show.
Boston’s “Boston,” was the first rock LP that I purchased as a young teenager. I had never seen them before, and my expectations were quite high. How can such a massive sounding, technical band pull off their sound live? And, after 40 years, only six studio albums, and significant line-up changes would they still be relevant? During the set change, I had a long conversation with two Boston mega fans who were sitting directly in front of me and they had the same question I did. In our anticipation we debated the topic. As the set change took place, an image of a giant american flag was projected on the screen above the stage and a beautiful tribute to America emerged. Myself, just being home from South Africa, I almost cried. The wall of amps were lit as if we were sitting in a space craft of some sort. As we waited for classic rockers Boston to take the stage, three strong blue lights illuminated a small portion of the stage. As the lights of the theater went dim, founding and only original member Tom Scholz took the stage and belted out a guitar solo. The rest of the band took the stage, and vocalist Tommy DeCarlo, who sounds exactly like the original singer, confidently began, “Well, we were just another band out of Boston…” The crowd, went crazy! Fist pumps, air drums, dancing, reminiscing. As the music started, the screen switched to projected images of space, earth, early NASA training footage, and live close up images of the band.
Each well known song transcended into the next well known song with limited talking by DeCarlo. However, between “Feelin’ Satisfied” (opening lyrics, “Well come on all you people…) and “Piece of Mind” (I understand about indecision…) – come on readers, you know you know these songs! De Carlo said, “Hello Portland! Welcome to Boston! We want to make this show your show…what do you want to hear? Do you want to hear some stuff off of our new album?” The crowd politely mumbled a collective and quiet, “yeah” that faded off quickly. He chuckled and said, “Do you want us to play songs off of our old stuff?” The massive “YEAH” from he crowd was audible, heard likely all of the way downtown to the Blues Festival. Boston continued with classics such as “Cool the Engines,” “Smokin’,” “Something About you,” “Don’t look Back,” “Amanda,” etc. As I’d always wondered, Boston live can’t be an easy task due to their massive technical and distinct sound. Scholz was amazing. DeCarlo’s voice, though it strained at times, was true to the Boston sound. While the sometimes three guitarists had a couple of episodes of not being 100% together in time, it didn’t take away from the quality of show. Mr. Scholz, having written many songs that made me love music, was perfect from my perspective. I give him great credit for keeping this band alive for 40 years.