Frontiers Music Srl
All Access Rating: B+
|Dennis DeYoung - Dennis DeYoung and|
the Music of Styx: Live in Los Angeles 2014
Faithfully revisiting a laundry list of Styx classics – with a few solo favorites sprinkled in – at Los Angeles' El Rey Theater in March 2014, DeYoung and his six-piece backing band rolled through a nostalgic set captured live for AXS-TV in high-definition sound and video.
Effervescent and celebratory, and buoyed by an enthusiastic audience fervently voicing its appreciation at every turn, this captivating performance is now available as two CD/DVD set titled Dennis DeYoung ... And the Music of Styx Live in Los Angeles, from Frontiers Music Srl.
Still possessing the commanding vocals for which he's known, DeYoung brings heightened drama and theatricality to transcendent versions of "Foolin' Yourself," "Mr. Roboto," "Come Sail Away" – the crowd, in full throat, singing along with every word – and the always-urgent "Too Much Time on My Hands," and if DeYoung's band played with more economy, rockers like "Renegade" and "Blue Collar Man" might pack a harder punch, but that doesn't mean these takes aren't satisfying. Too often here, though, they're guilty of gilding the lilly and overplaying, as they do on a version of "Grand Illusion" that's too ornate, something Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young would never let happen.
When it comes to ballads like "Don't Let It End" and "Desert Moon," however, DeYoung and company make them glow, tugging at heartstrings while giving them a lush treatment. And spellbinding renditions of "Suite Madame Blue" and "Crystal Ball" retain much of the witch-y magic of the originals in DeYoung's hands, meanwhile, and "Lorelei" has a gleeful bounce in its step.
A target for critics who've always laughed at their pomposity and taken pot shots at their ham-handed social commentary, Styx never paid much attention to its detractors. And if we're all being honest here, they deserve kudos for constructing memorable pop-rock anthems and championing the underdog, for examining in great depth the death of the American Dream and approaching bigger questions with a sincerity and honest concern for humanity that will forever resonate with fans.
On this night, DeYoung, ever the showman, casually interacts with them as if they were old friends, joking and reveling in Styx's unabashed bombast and wearing his romantic heart on his sleeve while singing a swooning break-up song like "Babe" with youthful conviction. Amid a sea of colorful lights and a cosmic backdrop seemingly designed by artsy aliens, DeYoung does more than just make peace with his past, savoring instead the impact, the emotions and the history of a band maligned by some, but still adored by millions more.
– Peter Lindblad