There were plenty of highlights for Styx during last year’s The Soundtrack of Summer Tour with Foreigner and Don Felder. But chief among those was the return of “Light Up,” a fan and radio favorite from 1975’s Equinox album, to the show. That will be chronicled on Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas, the band’s new AXS-TV concert special debuting 8 p.m. ET on March 15.
” ‘Light Up’ was not part of our set for the longest time, for a variety of reasons,” guitarist James “J.Y.” Young tells Billboard. “But with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, it seemed sort of appropriate again, and timely, and we always look for tracks we can resurrect that are good to play live. We know we have to play ‘Come Sail Away’ and ‘Renegade’ and ‘The Grand Illusion’ and ‘Too Much Time On My Hands’ and ‘Fooling Yourself’ and a few others, but it’s fun to bring in some others. And ‘Light Up’ is a song of celebration and it’s a fan song people can participate in, and the crowds really responded to us. It succeeded mightily on stage last year.”
Young adds that he and his bandmates also feel “Light Up” was a visual plus in the show. “We prided ourselves on doing these junior Pink Floyd things with the visuals in our production,” he explains. “The spectacular visuals which we were attempting to create, and I feel we succeeded in creating on this last tour, are best captured in my judgment in our performance of ‘Light Up’ and how the visuals all went and the lights and what have you. It was really captured absolutely fantastically.”
Filmed last July 25, the AXS special — which features Felder guesting on “Blue Collar Man” and Tommy Shaw returning the favor for “Hotel California” during his set — is the latest in Styx’s run of concert shows and DVD. In 2012 it aired its The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live performance on VH1 Classic and Palladia. Live at the Orleans Arena Las Vegas will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and CD on May 26, adding a bonus interview with the band.
“You can’t really get arrested with an album of new music,” Young notes, “But these videos, we’ve done one every three or four years, and it’s been great for us. It’s a really great way to promote the current lineup of the band and bring in new fans, so that’s kind of what we’ve been doing.”
Styx hasn’t given up on new music, mind you. Young says that Shaw and singer-keyboardist Lawrence Gowan “have been working on new stuff,” although he adds that “we’re not quite sure when and how, but there’s actual work going on. We’re still collectively trying to figure this out.” Rather than a full new album, however, Young says Styx might release just one fresh track at a time with a game plan towards giving it broad exposure through concerts and licensing.
“We’ve got to be committed to playing it live on a nightly basis if we’re really serious about it succeeding,” he says. “I think we need to probably record two or three tracks in earnest, produce them in earnest, do a video for them in earnest and decide which one we want to commit to working for the next six to nine months while we’re on the road and try to make a little noise out there.”
Whether that will happen for the summer tour, which kicks off June 26 in West Palm Beach, Fla., isn’t certain. But with or without new material, Shaw says Styx is stoked about joining forces again with Def Leppard for the first time since 2007. “We just had such a blast with those guys,” Young says. “It was fun to be with those guys and they kind of responded in kind. I know they had fun with us. And it gave us a crack at a whole new group of fans. So we’re really looking forward to it. It took eight years to get us back together, but here we are.”