Don Felder

February 2, 2018
The Venetian
Las Vegas, NV

Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.
Photos by Marai Huizinga

A rock band residency in Las Vegas is a special animal. Strict attention to time constraints, staging across spaces built long before Sin City could have ever conceived of such volume and effects, and audiences filled with folks as much fans of the headliner as they are just monetarily bereft, looking for a loud diversion, these kind of shows are not ordinary rock concerts. I had no idea what I was walking into for Styx & Don Felder: Renegades In The Fast Lane 2 at the Las Vegas Venetian. I needn’t have worried.

With a backing banner sporting the cover of Styx’s latest release, The Mission, and ushers holding copies of the CD for sale, I pretty much expected a night heavy on Styx’s first new studio album of all new material in 14 years. The band did begin the night with a new song, “Gone, Gone, Gone,” but other than “Radio Silence,” also from The Mission, they stuck with their hits.

It was quickly apparent that keyboardist and vocalist Lawrence Gowan was suffering from rough vocals, and he quickly addressed his "condition" with perfect self-deprecation. He even imitated Joe Cocker with a little bit of “With a Little Help From My Friends” that had the crowd laughing and pulling for the guy for the rest of the night.

Styx have been on the road seemingly forever this past decade and they have their act down to a finely tuned edge. “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” had the crowd pretty much standing from the get-go. “Too Much Time On My Hands,” “The Grand Illusion,” “Crystal Ball,” (which showed off the band’s pristine vocal harmonies) and “Miss America” were all played in succession.

With Styx to back him, Don Felder played for roughly 30 minutes and touched on such Eagles songs as “Take It Easy” (an interesting choice seeing as Felder was not on the original recording) and “Seven Bridges Road,” where again the Styx backing vocals were pristine. “The Long Run” featured some great interplay with Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young.

Felder stuck around as Styx brought up original bassist Chuck Panozzo, who usually appears midway and during the encore of a Styx show, to play “Fooling Yourself” (The Angry Young Man).” Gowan tickled the ivories across a classical piece, then played some ragtime that had the crowd clapping before Shaw joined him to sing “Come Sail Away.”

Felder took center stage for “Life in the Fast Lane,” with a slightly more jazzy and less rock vibe. Then his roadie handed him his double neck for “Hotel California,” which Shaw sang before trading leads with Felder during the song's climatic crescendo.

Styx finished out the night with “Renegade,” and “Rockin’ The Paradise.” Confetti canons blasted, which drove the crowd crazy, and before we knew it, the players were taking their bows. In, out, hard, heavy, perfectly rendered and not a chip played for a cool two hours — Styx and Don Felder made the famous Las Vegas Strip all their own for this second run together. If three time's a charm, chances are they'll be back in 2019.

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