Dennis DeYoung Live at the San Diego County Fair

Dennis DeYoung

The last time I saw Dennis DeYoung was 30 years ago. My brother and I slept out in front of Strawberry Records (who remembers them?) in February in Connecticut. And, anybody who knows Connecticut in February knows that’s a damn cold sidewalk! It was worth it for us, though; it was Styx- they were riding high through the 80’s and there was no way we were going to miss them in our own backyard.
So, I couldn’t help to think what it must be like for Dennis to step out on a stage at a county fair and see 1,000 people in the stands versus the massive crowds he played to back then. From the moment Dennis put his hands on his key board and started dialing up the intro to “The Grand Illusion,” I could tell by the look on his face that it didn’t seem to faze him at all. Instantly, I was at ease about any reservation I had about how Dennis would sound all these years later. His voice was amazingly clear and strong as he moved from the first number and eased into the classic ballad “Lady.”

DeYoung has always been one for theatrics, a little over the top at times, but that’s what makes him so endearing. So, when he came out from behind his keyboard, gyrating across the stage, he seemed right at home. It’s always nice to see a rocker from the day (DeYoung, during one of his many quips to the crowd, filled us in that he is now 63) not mailing in the performance. He was animated and in fine form, using that voice to raise a few chills up the back of the neck. This show was pure nostalgic greatness! Though I would have liked to have heard Dennis dig a little deeper into the Styx catalog… maybe drop “Pieces Of Eight,” “Boat On The River,” or “Miss America,” to name a few. But, I had to remind myself that he was billing the show as Dennis DeYoung and the music of Styx, so a greatest hits show was what he was delivering. And, how can you complain too much when Dennis is rocking out Mr.Roboto?
His band consisted of August Zadra and Jimmy Leahey, both on guitar and both adding much to the show. August more than adequately took the Tommy Shaw songs “Blue Collar Man” and “Too Much Time On My Hands” and rocked them with an energy that lit up the crowd. Both him and Leahey added a solid one-two punch to the backing vocals and the guitar parts.
Halfway through the show, Dennis dedicated “Babe” to his wife of over 30 years, for whom he wrote the song. It was a nice moment that added to the classic rock ballad, since his wife was standing next to him on stage singing back up in the band. As the show came to an end, Dennis was rockin’ it out so hard that he blasted into “Come Sail Away” a song too soon. Once the classic show stopper was over, he apologized for jumping the gun on the encore tune, claiming he was supposed to sing “Renegade” before the encore “Come Sail Away.” As the band rocked the last song, Dennis grabbed his wife’s hand and danced across the stage, putting a cap on a great show from a legend in 80’s rock and letting me drift back to those golden arena rock days.

One Response to Dennis DeYoung Live at the San Diego County Fair
  1. Mr Roboto
    June 24, 2010 | 5:57 pm

    Great pic ! Looks like Dennis from the Desert Moon period…..Lisa would have been happy with “Too Much Time…” , that’s her fav ! Besides the Alzheimer moment at the end, seems like the show rocked……..what next ?….Damn Yankees ?…..Double Gonzo Ted would be a show….! L8R….

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