Dennis DeYoung; The Grand Illusion 40th Anniversary Album Tour – Ford Theater, Los Angeles, CA – 8/3/18

The Grand Illusion, released in 1977, is a dramatic, thematic, classic album.  It was the catalyst for the success that the music of STYX has endured for the past 40 plus years, spawning the hits, “Come Sail Away” and “Fooling Yourself“. Dennis DeYoung and his incredible band are on tour honoring the release by playing the album from start to finish.

It’s been almost 20 years since the elder statesman of STYX went solo.  As the writer of most of their biggest hits, DeYoung has put together a band that more than does justice to all those memorable songs. That fact is not to be taken lightly, as most know, STYX wasn’t a one man band; it was a very collaborative effort that featured the vocal talents of the Great Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young on lead vocals for a hefty amount of the catalog. Those duties are now handled admirably by (unintentional doppelgangers!?) August Zadra, and Jimmy Leahey, respectively.

 

Dennis has to be renamed Dennis De “71 YEARS” Young, because the man has more energy than some frontmen twice his junior.  He is funny, charismatic and makes a show to a thousand people feel way more intimate than it should be. Constantly cracking jokes and dancing through the 2 hour show, Dennis is the epitome of an entertainer.

Tonight’s venue, The Ford Theater, which is literally nestled into the Hollywood Hills, certainly added to the evening’s enjoyment; providing a beautiful, natural backdrop which enhanced the atmosphere for the music of The Grand Illusion.

This tour has been broken into two acts, with Act I being The Grand Illusion performed in its entirety and after a short intermission, Act II focusing on a selection of some of STYX’s Greatest Hits.  The Grand Illusion was performed without any interaction from Dennis who admitted at the very start of the show that it would be hard not talk in between songs.  What a struggle that must have been, because Dennis loves to interact with the audience, as was proven during Act II where he bordered on Stand-Up Comedy through some of the set.  “I was told by a friend that 71 is the new 50.  I told him that 50 must have felt like shit!”.

Musically, Dennis hasn’t lost a step either.  He whipped out a great solo on his Hammond Organ that led into “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and he impressed every time he stepped behind his natural position behind his keyboards.

With that much energy from their leader, the band have to be on their toes to keep up and they are certainly up to the task. As mentioned, the band consists of August Zadra (Lead Guitar/Lead and Backing Vocals), Jimmy Leahey (Guitar/Backing Vocals), “The Rev“, Ordained Minister, Craig Carter (Bass/Backing Vocals), John Blasucci (Keyboards), Mike Morales (Drums) and on (High)Backing Vocals/Keeping Dennis in Line, his wife, Suzanne DeYoung.

Act II saw hit after hit coming fast and furious with “Lady“, “Mr Roboto“, “Too Much Time On My Hands” and a great version of the ballad “Babe“. 

The crowd knew and sang along to every song. After a pretend break for an encore, August (I Never Stop Smiling) Zadra, came out with a ripping guitar solo that led into the last song of the evening, “Renegade“.

 

Dennis DeYoung is out on tour with dates spanning well into 2019 and if you’re looking for one hell of an entertaining evening, you certainly get some bang for your buck. Several people I talked with have seen several dates on the tour already and have planned to come back for more.

A great show from a really great band that transports you back to a mystical time via the music of STYX and The Grand Illusion.

 

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