Styx, Loverboy rock Okanagan

Bassist Ricky Phillips (top) and drummer Todd Sucherman of iconic American band Styx put the work into Blue Collar Man, one of 14 songs played by the legendary group over 90 minutes Wednesday before an enthusiastic, appreciative crowd at Penticton’s South Okanagan Events Centre. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Loverboy frontman and Penticton native Mike Reno belts out one of the band’s hits before a large, enthusiastic crowd Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Loverboy founding member, guitarist Paul Dean, sings background vocals on one of the band’s hits during their concert Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Loverboy drummer and original band member Matt Frenette helped work up the crowd with his energy during the band’s concert Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Frontman and hometown favourite Mike Reno rocks out during one of Loverboy’s hits at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton Wednesday. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Styx veteran guitarists James (JY) Young, left, and Tommy Shaw shred their instruments on The Grand Illusion, one of 14 of the iconic American band’s hits played by the group Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Styx frontman, Canadian keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, wowed the crowd with his charisma, stage presence and vocals during the band’s 90-minute concert Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Styx guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw works the crowd during the iconic band’s 90-minute show in Penticton Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Veteran Styx guitarist and vocialist Tommy Shaw puts the effort into Blue Collar Man, one of 14 of the band’s many hits the iconic group played to a large, appreciative crowd Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Styx bassist Ricky Phillips (top) and drummer Todd Sucherman put the work into Blue Collar Man, one of the iconic group’s plethora of hits played for a large, enthusiast crowd Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. (Roger Knox - Black Press)

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.

The band played half of the Grand Illusion album, including Miss America, with Young on lead vocals; Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man), Shaw on vocals; and the title track and Come Sail Away with Gowan featured prominently.

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.

The audience also sang along to The Kid Is Hot Tonight and Working For The Weekend. Loverboy finished with Jump for its encore.

Two iconic bands, three hours of memories. A pretty cool way to spend a Wednesday night.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island park honours memory of man with ties to Vernon

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