Danny Zelisko Presents Styx as they return to the historic Celebrity Theater for the first time in 15 years at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 22, 2018. Reserved seat tickets go on sale this Monday, November 13th at www.celebritytheatre.com.
“We can do this.” This was the mantra undertaken by STYX as the band spent almost two years on and off behind closed doors working on the music that ultimately became known as The Mission, its sonically sweet 16th studio album and most ambitious, most challenging, and most rewarding release to date.
“The planets truly aligned for The Mission, and I couldn’t be prouder,” says STYX vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw, who co-wrote the album’s storyline with longtime collaborator Will Evankovich (Shaw Blades, The Guess Who). Continues Shaw, “It’s our boldest, most emblematic album since Pieces of Eight.” Adds STYX co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, “This album is an incredible artistic expression that resonates with the best parts of our past, but is intended for modern-day consumption. I’m very excited about it.”
Indeed, The Mission — is an aurally adventurous 43-minute thrill ride that chronicles the trials, tribulations, and ultimate triumphs of the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2033. From the hopeful drive of the lead single “Gone Gone Gone” to the pivotal harmonic convergence of “Radio Silence” to the stargazing machinations of “Locomotive” to the rough-riding blaze of glory that permeates the hard-charging “Red Storm” to the elegiac optimism of the closing track “Mission to Mars,” The Mission succeeds in delivering the greater good from a band that continues to fire on all cylinders, 45 years after signing its first recording contract.
In fact, The Mission displays the best aspects of the ongoing in-harmony musical intersection of the six-man STYX team: the aforementioned guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, co-founding guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, original bassist Chuck Panozzo, drummer/percussionist Todd Sucherman, and bassist/vocalist Ricky Phillips.
“The Mission is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be a part of something unique and special that’s happening in real time right in front of you,” believes Evankovich, who also produced the album that was recorded primarily at Blackbird Studios, The Shop, and 6 Studio Amontillado in Nashville. “It is one of those albums that musically and cosmically showed you the next right thing to do every step of the way. I will forever be grateful and proud of what we did to create this body of art.”
An invigorating combination of freedom and trust is what ultimately led Shaw down The Mission’s highly focused songwriting path. “It’s been so long since we made a STYX album like the ones we did before, because so much has changed,” Shaw acknowledges. “We are rough-edged and badass when we’re out on the road, and we know it. But, to a man, while we were making this record, everyone got very real and dug down deep in unfamiliar territory, and gave the performances you hear. Anything we can do to make the songs better — that’s what we do. It was all hands on deck, and it’s such a cool thing after all these years to still have that together. To have this album come out now, when the brotherhood of the band has never been stronger, well — it’s the sweet dream we never imagined. The truth is, it is a dream fulfilled.”
The album’s collective strengths are not lost on JY. “Tommy likes to say, ‘From a tiny acorn a giant oak doth grow,’” Young recites. “And my genetic material is there too, so I helped birth this child, and if it turns out to be the most successful thing we’ve done — well, that’s why we make STYX records. It shows how we work as a team. The skill level of the band has allowed us to go do things we just couldn’t have otherwise in the past. And that’s not a knock on Mr. John Panozzo or Mr. John Curulewski at all [the two original STYX band members who have passed away]. As I’ve said before, I’ve surrounded myself with home-run hitters after the people we’ve lost. I really do love this album, and what we’ve done on it. It’s a great collaboration.”
STYX draws from over four decades of barn burning chart hits, joyous singalongs, and hard-driving deep cuts. Like a symphony that builds to a satisfying crescendo, a STYX set covers a wide range of stylistic cornerstones. From the progressively sweeping splendor that is “The Grand Illusion” to the hunker-down fortitude of all that is the “Blue Collar Man,” from the majestic spiritual love for a special “Lady” to the poignant rumination on the fleeting nature of fame in “Miss America,” from an individual yearning for true connection as a “Man in the Wilderness” to a soul-deep quest to achieve what’s at the heart of one’s personal vision in “Crystal Ball,” from the regal reach-for-the-stars bravado of “Come Sail Away” to the grainy all-in gallop of that rugged “Renegade” who had it made, STYX draws on an unlimited cache of ways to immerse one’s mind and body in their signature sound.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Reserved seat tickets ($45, $75 and $110) go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 13th at Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., in Phoenix, or online at www.celebritytheatre.com. To charge by phone, call 602-267-1600 ext. 1. All tickets are subject to facility and ticketing surcharges. All ages welcome.