Styx finds a ‘rock mecca’ in Las Vegas

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Rick Diamond Styx performs another minimal engagement with former Eagles guitarist Don Felder at the Venetian Theatre January 26-February 3.

Traditional rock apotheosis Styx and former Eagles guitar player Don Felder go back to their residency at the Venetian Theatre this weekend, where they played a run of programs dubbed “Renegades in the Fast Lane” last year at this time. If you’re thinking these two acts have far too many hits to fit into a single setlist, you’re right. “It’s intense,” states Styx vocalist and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan. “The encore alone, well, I do not want to provide it away, however what we took into these 4 songs that comprise the encore, it’s quite impressive to be a part of.”

The Scottish-born Canadian who joined the band in the late ’90s states Styx works as Felder’s backing band for 6 or seven songs, which integrated with preferred Styx tracks produces the supreme setlist. “There actually aren’t any bad options. It’s a fantastic position to be in.”

Here’s the rest of my conversation with Gowan:

Styx has been touring gradually for a very long time now and it seems like you guys always make time for Las Vegas. I remain in my 20th year with Styx and I do not believe there’s been a year in there we have not been to Vegas at least when. It’s ended up being such a rock mecca. It’s an essential location for us to play and we have actually gathered so many terrific memories playing there. The very first time I ever went to Vegas was with Styx and we played the Hilton that year, the stage Elvis was on, and I remember being kind of awestruck by it. When we did 5 nights there [at the Venetian] last year, we understood we needed to return to do it again.

Twenty years is a big musical anniversary for you and the band. This year also marks 15 years since the release of “Cyclorama,” the very first album you tape-recorded with Styx. Oh my god, that’s right! Fifteen years is a lot. Thank god we put out a brand-new album in 2015! It’s amusing … I’ve been in Styx for a 3rd of my life, and it’s amusing how time broadens and contracts simultaneously. In some methods that tape-record feels current and in others, it’s in the remote past. Part of that is since we have actually toured so nonstop– we have actually never ever played less than 100 reveals a year.

In 2015’s album was “The Objective,” and it got rave reviews. Are you going to play a great deal of that product in the Venetian programs? Yes, we sort of start with the record. We know people are coming to hear the biggest Styx records, “The Grand Impression” and “Pieces of Eight” and “Paradise Theatre,” so we still focus 8 percent of the show on those records. However “The Objective” sold well and was just voted the No. 1 classic rock album of 2017 in a survey in Ultimate Classic Rock publication. Our self-confidence in it has grown.

And obviously you’re playing Eagles tunes, too, with Don Felder. It’s a great deal of enjoyable because it’s likewise terrific to suddenly shift gears musically. I always hear the more prog influences in Styx music and I’m drawn to that, and then there’s the more rootsy-Americana in the Eagles tunes. To be in a band that has to move that rapidly and have it all work onstage is quite interesting.

You also get the experience of performing classic Styx material from before you signed up with the band. Although you’ve been with them for a long time, do you remember a time when you started to feel more comfortable with the role of prima donna in Styx? In every era, in each years of its existence, this band has actually always found a way to raise what it’s doing and how it’s impacting individuals. Styx is as terrific as it is since it’s the conclusion of the efforts of everyone who’s ever remained in it. The guys not provide on the stage today are still a part of what the band is able to perform, which holds true of other bands too however it’s something I really started to feel. I have a musical kinship with guys I’ve never ever even satisfied, which is also part of the appeal of Styx songs, that they are quite malleable from one age to the next. And now we’re playing these songs for people who weren’t even born when the most significant Styx records were made. I sort of feel the very same method [as the audience], that I have interpretations of songs when I sing them that are most likely a long method from the original intent or motivation, but that belongs to exactly what has actually helped them last so long and continue to be significant.

Styx and Don Felder perform at 8 p.m. January 26, 27 and 31 and February 2 and 3 at the Venetian Theatre (3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-414-1000) and more info can be discovered at venetian.com.

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