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The Best of Times: Styx embraces the old and the new

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    Members of the band Styx in concert at The Midwest Rock N' Roll Express tour in Toledo on April 21, 2013.

    THE BLADE
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  • CTY-reostyx21-5

    Members of the band Styx in concert at The Midwest Rock N' Roll Express tour in Toledo on April 21, 2013.

    THE BLADE
    Buy This Image

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Nearly 50 years after Chicago rock band Styx formed in 1972, original guitarist James Young still gets excited when he steps on stage.

“We’re still having tremendous fun with this,” said Young recently during a call from his home in Chicago. “Everyone in this band is a clever, talented individual who has been in a number of other situations and realizes this is the best team we’ve ever been on. So here we go.”

Comprising vocalist Tommy Shaw, guitarist Young, bassists Chuck Panozzo and Ricky Phillips, drummer Todd Sucherman, and pianist Lawrence Gowan, Styx will perform Thursday at Centennial Terrace in Sylvania.

Yet, surprisingly to its fans, the “Renegade” rockers have brought back an old hit into Styx’s live set.

For the first time in 35 years, Styx has resurrected its 1983 song “Mr. Roboto” for a live setting this summer, one that ultimately preceded the band’s breakup after its concept album Kilroy Was Here was released. At the time of its release, “Mr. Roboto” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 18 weeks on the chart.

If You Go 
What: Styx 
When: 8 p.m. Thursday 
Where: Centennial Terrace, 5773 Centennial Rd., Sylvania 
Admission: $37-$70 
Information: Etix.com

Former Styx vocalist Dennis DeYoung, who acrimoniously split from the band in 1999, has never stopped singing “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” since he pursued a solo career as Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx.

It’s the only song written by DeYoung that Styx hasn’t played during the past 19 concert seasons without the former vocalist, Young said.

“That song was Dennis' and we let him have it, but the demand from people that came to see us [has been so great that] we decided, ‘OK, it's been ... 35 years since Styx did it on stage. Let’s give it a shot.’ Dennis has been playing it in his solo performances but we haven’t,” Young said. “We said, ‘What the heck.’ We know the people want to hear it because they continue to request it on a nightly basis. We just decided to give the people what they want.”

Young said 1983’s Kilroy is what split the band the following year.

“That whole project is what broke up the band for a variety of reasons we don’t need to get into today,” Young said.

Now, with The Mission, its 16th album, Styx has another concept record and the first release with original material since 2003’s Cyclorama.

Released in 2017, the new 14-song album tells the story of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033. Produced by Will Evankovich (Jack Blades, The American Drag), it marked the first time Styx recorded in Nashville.

“It was really about the human story,” Young said. “We are traveling musicians, so we deal with separation on a scale of 1,000-2,000 miles [traveling]. The idea [here is] of being separated by millions and millions of miles from home.

“Tommy (Shaw) did a great job of championing this whole thing and getting us all involved in it. We felt like we had a really great concept album, and we were going to put it out no matter how much low traction it gained. We felt strongly there was some really good stuff here.”

Since 1972, Styx has written such hits as “Blue Collar Man,” “Lady,” “Come Sail Away,” “Crystal Ball,” “Babe,” “Too Much Time On My Hands,” and “Fooling Yourself.” The group plays about 100 shows each year and is the first rock band in history to have four consecutive certified multi-million-selling albums in a row with The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, and Paradise Theatre.

“My favorite part of being in a successful rock band has always been the time on stage,” Young said. “The response is immediate, the energy in the room is magical, and that cannot be digitally duplicated in any way shape or form. There is nothing like being there live. I love that [being] in the moment part of it is challenging, but at this stage in the game I’ve surrounded myself with home run hitters.”

Contact Geoff Burns at gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.

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