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Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight – Live BluRay

Review by Gary Hill

Looking at this BluRay, there are a number of levels on which to comment. First, just the package, itself, video and audio, extras, and so on should be addressed. The technical side is flawless. The video (shot professionally with multiple cameras) is excellent. It doesn’t have the quick shot that can be so annoying in concert films, but manages to capture all the different levels and angles of the show. The sound is great, too. As far as staging, the group works the stage well, and video on the screen behind the band adds a lot. There’s a bonus feature that shows behind the scenes things creating the show. While casual fans might enjoy this, I’ve been involved with the music business long enough that there’s really not much here that stands out as all that unique or interesting. 

So, here we have the current version of Styx performing the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight albums back to back live. For my money, those are two of the best albums from the group and they certainly seem like the transitional period of the band from a more progressive rock oriented outfit to a more rock based. That said, I’d still put both albums into the period of progressive rock. I like the way they show a person putting the record on the turntable and turning it over before each side of each record is played. The band does some great live renditions of all the tracks. It should be mentioned that this tour was the first time ever some of these cuts were played.

And, that leaves us with the elephant in the room. Yes, this is the post Dennis DeYoung version of Styx. Frankly, if you really pay attention to what DeYoung was doing and where he was leading Styx, I think they are better off without him. He seemed to be drawing more and more towards musical theater and further away from rock music. For that reason, Styx seems better without him. The only song where his presence is noticeably missing is “Come Sail Away” and that’s because his vocal style was such a big part of the sound of that tune. Still, Larry Gowan pulls it off well, keeping it close to DeYoung’s sound but making it his own. I know some fault Gowan for his style of showmanship, but I happen to like the swivel keyboard and playing solos with his hands behind his back. It works for me. Sure, you might think it’s too flashy, but I like it.

All in all, I’d recommend this highly to any fans of Styx, or of classic rock in general. If you couldn’t make the show, at least you can experience it after the fact.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at

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