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FLASHBACK: Lighten up, everybody - it's only rock 'n' roll - Odessa American: Celinda Hawkins

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FLASHBACK: Lighten up, everybody - it's only rock 'n' roll

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Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014 7:00 am

Last week, I saw yet another fantastic performance at the Wagner Noël. Styx, the iconic 1970s rockers, achieved pure perfection. Not bad for a bunch of older guys who can still rock the house.

But you know at the Wagner, sometimes while the music is crazy good, you wouldn’t know it to look at the crowd. Back in the day at concerts, a lot of times the crowds were more lively than the players!

On Tuesday night, to my right and in front of me sat some of the stillest folks I have ever seen. It looked as if everyone was on their best behavior — motionless, expressionless. Who knows maybe they were just old and tired on a Tuesday night.

 “Y’all still remember what it was like to be bad,” veteran member and guitar virtuoso Tommy Shaw told the audience, which was salted and peppered with children of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

They appeared to sit and stare at the blond-maned rocker as he beckoned the audience to show some enthusiasm.

He reminded us all, ever so gently, that we are aging but there is still time to have fun.

“It doesn’t hurt to remember what it was like to have fun,” he told the rather stoic crowd.

Unfortunately, he could not see the four totally pumped gals on Row W or so, because my crew was anything but still.

No offense folks, but could you at least tap your toe?

Well, the crowd got moving when Tommy asked whether anyone remembered “flicking a Bic” at a concert.

“No one probably has one of these anymore,” he said as he lifted a lighter into the air. “But I bet you’ve got something else …”

At that moment, the crowd came alive with hundreds of lit cell phones going into the air to prelude “Light Up!,” a concert anthem from the “Equinox” album.

“Do you remember albums?” Tommy asked the capacity crowd, who all cheered. Some even stood up.

“How many of you still have a turntable?” he asked as about a third of the audience clapped. “There’s something about the sound of an album — it’s just so good.”

Then he explained that back in the day, when they were planning their albums, there was an order to it, like putting the number one hit as the lead song on the first side. He then launched in to a rather obscure B-side tune “Man in the Wilderness” from the 1977 album “The Grand Illusion.”

I guess to those of us who were raised going to spectacular concerts with lights, smoke and acrobatics, the set was rather ho-hum and the lighting was mediocre. But as Tommy proved, they were there to play and he and others complimented the venue profusely.

 Ever the entertainers, both Tommy and founding member James “J.Y.” Young, along with the three other members — Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips — took turns speaking with the audience.

Now I actually missed one of the founding members, Dennis De Young, who wrote the famous hit “Lady,” among many others. But alas, he left the group a number of years ago.

But it was quite refreshing to see these guys spend so much time praising Midland and Odessa — they knew where they were — and it showed. Plus, three of the newer band members live in Austin, so they are Lone Star staters, as the guys said.

After each personable break, the band continued to wow the crowd and finally the audience stood up and started moving on the last two performances including the last song “Renegade.”

J.Y. noted that Odessa and Midland are “booming,” and postulated that perhaps the WN had a full house because folks could afford tickets around here. Probably true.

And perhaps, one day they will be back — let’s just hope.

“Never, never, never say never

Ne dis jamais jamais

Better, better believe in forever

And it can be that way…”

“Never Say Never,” Styx.

Odessa, TX

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