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The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)

The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)Filmed during the 2014 “Soundtrack of the Summer” tour, Styx hits the Las Vegas stage to bring us their signature sound!  Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas also includes behind the scenes interview with the band and their road crew about the in’s and out’s of life on the road.  We get everything from the joys of exploring a new city everyday, to the struggles that come with trying to remain connected to those back home.  So strap on your multi-necked guitar and find out if Styx still has what it takes to bring the house down!

 

Styx-Vegas-Screen-Shot (717x375)

Concert
The show opens with behind the scenes interviews with Styx and their stage crew. Each of these interviews cover a variety of subjects that explore what life is like as a road musician.  But this one focuses primarily on how the band and crew go about their day to prepare for the show.  This served as a great introduction/set up for the concert.  In a way, I could almost see them playing this clip at their lives shows just before the music starts.  It really makes you feel like your a part of the fun rather than just an outsider looking in.  It’s great to see a band with such longevity expose themselves so fully.  Usually artists with this level of pedigree wouldn’t be so quick to show the “not so glamorous” part of the “Rock Star” lifestyle.

Once the show finally starts there’s simmering anticipation of energy as the lights are still dim and low. But once the lights come up the audience isn’t exactly exploding with life and vibrance. I definitely wouldn’t attribute this to the age demographic of their fan base.  I’ve seen plenty of older fans go nuts with tons of energy at rock shows. There just seems to be sort of a calmness about the crowd, which is unusual for a classic rock show.  Most of the crowd is still seated when the band hits the stage.  And it’s definitely not for lack of trying on the bands part as they are clearly giving it their all.  Luckily, by the second song the crowd has fully awoken from their coma!

Full disclosure, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Styx.  I’m familiar with a few of their hits but on the whole, I’m more of a casual listener.  But I really appreciate it when older musicians keep their chops up to the level that they were in their heyday. Their signature tenor vocals are strong, powerful, and crystal clear. And the instrumentation is tight as a drum. You can tell that these guys really value a quality musical presentation which is delightful to hear AND see.  Having said that, these guys aren’t exactly “Broadway” performers.  It’s clear that they put the musicianship before the spectacle.  But at the same time you gotta give credit to keyboardist Lawrence Gowan.  He literally bounces and spins all over the stage.  Combine that with his fully rotating keyboard stand, and you’ve got quite a bit of excitement coming from that side of the stage.

Initially the camerawork is kind of all over the place – randomly bouncing from musician to musician rather than gradually moving about the stage. I mean granted, the stage set up is pretty sparse and minimal but you could still give a sense of a grandiose performance for these guys. I just feel like they were a bit misrepresented on the visual production end.  The best kinds of live concert home videos give you the feeling that you’re on stage with the band. But this one just makes you feel like you’re watching a random fan wander about the stage occasionally filming interesting moments.

I really dug the behind the scenes interviews with each member of the band and stage crew.  It’s fascinating to hear about how these folks live on the road. As opposed to what we usually see, which is more akin to a never-ending party.  They talk about the different methods they use to cope with the isolation and distance from their families.  That the digital age has made things much easier for the road musician to keep in touch with those back home.  Now that’s not to say that these are a bunch of sob stories.  Or that everyone should feel bad for these Rock Stars.  These are just personal and revealing accounts of the life of a live musician. Now granted this is the life of a successful and globally known band. But it still gives the outsider a sense of what a musicians life might be like.

Styx is one of those rare “Prog-Rock” bands from the 70’s that is also capable of making “Pop” tunes that the casual listener can dig.  Listening to their arrangements you can tell that they love venturing into the weirder side of music.  But they don’t become so far gone that they end up writing songs that only other bands can appreciate.  I’m not gonna pretend that their music doesn’t come across as a bit dated.  What with their lyrical themes about “love being their drug”.  But unlike many of their “Prog” peers of the time, they’re music has a lot of heart and genuine emotion that makes it easy for the “Regular Joe” to relate to.

The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)

 

Songs

1. Too Much Time on My Hands

2. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Man)

3. Light Up

4. Crystal Ball

5. Superstars

6. Blue Collar (Long Nights) feat. Don Felder.


7. Rockin’ The Paradise

8. Renegade

9. Genki Desu Ka (Credits)

The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)

Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080i
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: There is some slight burring during the concert whenever the lights come near the camera.  But it’s not necessarily something you would notice unless you were looking for it.
Depth:  Very good.  When the cameras shoot from the bands perspective you can easily make out faces that a quite a few rows back.
Black Levels: Deep and rich.
Color Reproduction: Not bad.  But there’s definitely some room for improvement.  Again, this isn’t something that’s so egregious that you would easily notice it.
Flesh Tones: Good. Although in some interviews, and this could be due to reflective surfaces in the background, some of their faces take on some weird coloring.
Noise/Artifacts: None.

 

The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)
Audio
Audio Format(s): English: LPCM 2.0, English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles:
English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish
Dynamics: Excellent.  Everything is perfectly balanced.
Low Frequency Extension: Styx definitely isn’t the kind of band to employ much low end in their music.  The Bass guitar for example has a fairliy thin tone.  So overall this feature isn’t utilized very much.
Surround Sound: N/A.
Dialogue Reproduction:  Excellent.  Not a word or lyrics missed.
The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)
Extras
  • They definitely seem to prioritize the interviews and behind the scenes footage over the concert itself.  Which as someone who isn’t really the biggest Styx fan, this didn’t really bother me.  But if you’re a die-hard Styx disciple, then this might come as a bit of a disappointment.  Personally my one MAIN gripe hands down would have to be the devastating omission of “Mr. Roboto”!  Perhaps it’s absence has to do with a publishing rights issues with the song.  But I was really looking forward to seeing them rock this signature song live!
  • The Concert – Where you can watch an uninterrupted version of the concert without the interviews.
  • Bonus Interviews – The Styx Family, Touring with Def Leopard, The Business, Rock to the Rescue, At Home.
  • Photo Gallery

Summary
I’ll be honest, I liked the behind the scenes footage a lot more than the concert itself.  I couldn’t really get into the show for the most part.  I think that might be due largely to how mellow the crowd was.  Because these guys were really giving it their all!  Maybe the Las Vegas crowd has become a little jaded when it comes to their live shows.  I mean think about what Las Vegas has to offer!  So unless you’ve got men in tights flying through the air, you might have a rough go trying to get a Vegas crowd excited.  But at the same time, Styx’s stage set up could have been just a BIT more elaborate.  Everything is kinda right there in front of you. There isn’t any sort of visual dynamic to the set.  The whole thing just kinda looks like a big metal stove!

Styx Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas is available now on Blu-ray!

Click below to order your copy!

The mighty Styx! Live in VEGAS! (Blu-ray Review)

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Writer, Musician, Composer, Singer and Dancer. To sum up: I like to get jiggy with it!

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