Each band has been touring 40-plus years. Each has original members still going strong. Each has a frontman that knows how to work the crowd.
And each, overcoming sound issues at the beginning, still knows how to rock.
B.C.’s Loverboy and iconic U.S. band Styx — with Canadian import frontman Lawrence Gowan — put on a great show for nearly 3,000 baby boomers at Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday.
Backed by two of the best guitar players in rock‘n’ roll, James (JY) Young and Tommy Shaw, Ricky Phillips playing a fantastic bass guitar, the heavily underrated Todd Sucherman on drums, and the charisma of the talented Gowan on keyboard, Styx certainly didn’t disappoint.
After opening with Gowan on lead vocals for Gone, Gone, Gone, the band played three of its instantly recognizable hits – Blue Collar Man, Grand Illusion, Lady – before launching into a song from their latest studio album, The Mission, called Radio Silence.
Young, often referred to by Shaw as the Godfather of Styx, as he’s been with the band the longest, pointed out to the audience that Styx is the only band in the world to have four consecutive albums sell three million copies or more — the Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theatre.
Prior to the familiar piano opening for Come Sail Away, Gowan – a native of Scarborough, Ont., who told the crowd he was delighted to be back in Canada – broke into the Hockey Night in Canada theme, then had the crowd singing the bridge from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and played an instrumental from The Mission called Khedive.
Wearing a NASA jacket with a Maple Leaf patch, Gowan wowed the crowd with his stage presence, his rotating keyboard and, of course, his vocals, which also included his solo hit A Criminal Mind, which he recorded prior to joining Styx.
Come Sail Away ended the set and the band returned for two encores: Mr. Roboto, from Kilroy Was Here, the album that stopped the streak of three million copies sold, and Renegade.
Loverboy got the crowd warmed up thanks to hometown favourite, lead singer Mike Reno, graduate of Penticton Secondary School.
Wearing a Straight Outta Penticton T-shirt, Reno had to overcome some sound issues during the group’s first three songs, but could be heard crystal clear on the fourth song of the night, Lovin’ Every Minute of It.
Formed in the 1970s, the band still contains original members Reno, Paul Dean on guitar, Doug Johnson on keyboards and the energetic Matt Frenette on drums.
After original bassist Scott Smith died in a sailing accident in 2000, the band replaced him with former Streetheart bassist Ken (Spider) Sinnaveve, who had the crowd with him as he launched into the instantly recognizeable opening of arguably the band’s biggest hit, Turn Me Loose, which then had the audience in fine vocal form.
Two iconic bands, three hours of memories. A pretty cool way to spend a Wednesday night.