Styx, Joan Jett & The Black Hearts and Tesla – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre – Englewood, CO

To say that Styx are good showman would probably be a bit of an understatement. Not inaccurate, just insufficient. As someone who has witnessed their “performance tour de force” several times over, I’m always struck by the synergy and enthusiasm that characterizes their shows. From the first note to the last. Tuesday night’s performance at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre in Englewood, CO was no exception. 40+ years on, the rock band originally out of Chicago still know how to entertain with a vengeance.

Before the main event hit the stage, the party was already in full swing thanks to openers Tesla and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Jeff Keith and company were first in line. A noticeably large early turn-out for their set demonstrated that the crowd were eager to hear the likes of “Little Suzi,” “Love Song” and “Modern Day Cowboy.”

The age-defying Joan Jett was next to emerge. Flanked by her longtime sidekicks, The Blackhearts, the feisty punk rocker started things off with the anthemic “Bad Reputation.” The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” was quick to follow, and from there it was a blend of covers and originals that rounded out her time on stage. Adorned in a skin-tight leather jumpsuit and still rocking her trademark jaggedy black hair, the lady remains on her game. Making the encore, “Real Wild Child,” a particularly fitting sign-off to her fist-pumping set.

A quick shuffle of equipment and then it was Styx who were off and running with the one-two punch intro of “Gone Gone Gone” and “Blue Collar Man.” This tour is partly commemorating the 40th anniversary of the iconic The Grand Illusion album, and the band’s set sampled from it accordingly. The title track, “Fooling Yourself” and “Come Sail Away” all made appearances. With the latter two renditions being especially poignant by the addition of original bassist, Chuck Panozzo.

Part way through the night, the always energetic Lawrence Gowan went solo with his keyboard for a brief medley and an acknowledgement the captive audience. “It’s amazing how you know every word to every song,” he proclaimed. A fact that may have been no more apparent than when the band pulled out the classic “Mr. Roboto” for their encore. The song hasn’t made a live appearance in 35 years. But the crowd knew every word. And the excitement was palpable. Check out our photos of the night below:

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