While not the first rock/orchestral collaboration to be heard of, the 2006 Styx collaboration with Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra proved to be not only a wildly successful outing but also an incredible experience for not only the audience, but the band and orchestra as well. Playing through seventeen songs (and two bonus Christmas songs) in a concert that lasts over two hours, Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland power on through the Styx catalog of titles, ranging from the opening “Blue Collar Man” to the closing “Renegade.”
For one magical night in May 2006, Styx, veterans of nearly 35 years of performing, joined forces with Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra, a 171-0piece orchestra and choir composed of students aged 13-19, to perform a range of selections from the Styx catalog. Fans are treated to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear classic Styx rockers with an orchestra twist.
As I said before, this isn’t the first rock band to pair up with an orchestra. In fact, when I first saw this Blu-ray my immediate thought was the Metallica S&M concert (which was actually the first Metallica CD I ever bought), which isn’t a bad thing as it is probably one of my favorite mixes of Metallica songs I’ve ever heard. I’m not a huge fan of Styx, but I know enough of their catalog to settle into this concert with relative ease and I have to say…if I was a bigger fan of Styx, then I would have been absolutely giddy while watching this concert, as there is some genuinely amazing stuff here.
What is most impressive is just the orchestra itself. Composed entire of 13 – 19 year olds, the pace and flow that they are able to keep when paired up with rock legends Styx is really quite amazing. While none of their songs are especially fast or anything you could really call “hard” rock, the addition of the orchestra really just helps amplify the experience of the songs all that much more. Even with the addition of a 171-piece orchestra behind their songs, however, they’re still easily identifiable as Styx (at least the songs of theirs that I had heard previously, at least).
The full track list is as follows:
1. Blue Collar Man
3. One With Everything
4. It Don’t Make Sense (You Can’t Make Peace)
5. I Am The Walrus
6. Just Be
7. Everything All the Time
8. Crystal Ball
9. Miss America
10. Criminal Mind
11. Too Much Time On My Hands
12. Boat on the River
13. I Don’t Need No Doctor
14. The Styx CYO Medley
15. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Bonus Christmas Songs:
1. All I Want
2. Ring The Bells
Overall this is a great concert and worth checking out, regardless if you’re a Styx fan or not. I actually wish more rock bands would do this type of collaboration, as I really think it adds a whole other dimension to the songs (as long as it’s done right, anyway). Highly Recommended.
Eagle Rock Entertainment has released the concert on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with a double sided insert (the reverse side is a larger view of the same picture that adorns the back of the cover). Also included is a booklet that includes photos from the concert, a list of thanks from those involved as well as short letters from Tommy Shaw of Styx and Liza Grossman, the music director for the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. Menus for the concert are simple and easy to navigate and the overall presentation of this release is rock solid.
Jumping into the Blu-ray portion, the AVC encoded 1080i video looks absolutely amazing. The cameras pick up every little drop of sweat that reflects off of the stage lights and the sweeping camera angles are really quite a sight to see. It’s a really fantastic visual presentation for a great concert, but the real stars here are the audio mixes that are available. While the LPCM 2.0 track has a much heavier front end (it is, after all, just 2.0) and the DD5.1 mix is great on its own, it’s the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is the real stand out here. The range and spread through the channels that the DTS-HD boasts is absolutely brilliant, with the 171 piece orchestra flooding the room with sound. It is nothing short of a brilliant aural experience, as well as a fantastic visual one.
Moving onto the extras…well, there isn’t a whole lot, but after a two hour long concert, I can see where the extras might be seen as overkill. Included, however, are a collection of Interviews with those involved, as well as the ”Quake Cam” which focuses on drummer Todd Sucherman as he plays.
Overall not a package bursting with bonus material, but the concert itself is more than worth checking out. Recommended.
Styx – The One With Everything arrives on Blu-ray on April 21st.