To be perfectly honest, my exposure to the band Styx has been slightly scarce. To be clear, I'm only really familiar with Tommy Shaw, who plays guitar and handles the lead vocals for the band, and I only remember him from his days in the early '90s super group Damn Yankees. But to my surprise, the band has been together in one fashion or another for almost half a century, and Shaw has been performing with the band since the release of 1976's "Crystal Ball." After that, the band saw multi-platinum sales with their next four albums, culminating with 1981's "Paradise Theatre." The band has ten Top 10 songs, and the vocal harmonies that Shaw, Dennis DeYoung and Chuck Panozzo are memorable as soon as you hear them.
Like other bands that have been performing in front of crowds for decades, there is the occasional creative turn that the individuals want to take to transform the music into something that will appeal to newer audiences. And that would be where the Contemporary Youth Orchestra comes into play. The ensemble group of young musicians who were founded over 75 years ago in Cleveland has collaborated with several contemporary rock musicians through the years, such as Ray Manzarek from the Doors and Graham Nash. Combined with the Chorus of Cleveland, the three groups performed a 2006 concert for the world to enjoy. The songs from that concert are as follows:
"Blue Collar Man"
"One With Everything"
"It Don't Make Sense"
"A Burst of Beethoven"
"I Am the Walrus"
"Everything All the Time"
"A Criminal Mind"
"Too Much Time on My Hands"
"Boat on the River"
"I Don't See No Doctor"
As one who was a fan of the Metallica collaboration with the San Francisco Philharmonic, and uses it as a benchmark for rock & Back collaborations. I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but I was fairly sure that some of what would be played would seem to kill the aspect of an orchestra, rather than allowing it to accentuate or even stand out from the Styx music. And most of the concert seemed to fall in that direction. There were some subtle cues from the orchestra, and a couple of small classical music fills from time to time, but nothing that really stood out in terms of magical moments. It was if, at times, Styx was using the orchestra to bump up how cool they were by using an orchestra.
Now the show wasn't a complete write-off. In fact, the orchestra and chorus both had fun during the periods when the group would perform a song, jumping up and down and generally "rocking out" to "Miss America." But at the end of the day, I couldn't help shake the notion I was watching a bunch of guys who were trying to stay relevant, but who are just playing on stage with a bunch of kids who've never heard of them and more than likely have forgotten about them.
This concert, subtitled One With Everything, comes to Blu-ray in 1.78:1 and in 1080i high definition, using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. It appears that this was a reproduction from a concert which first aired on the HDNet channel, so the high def presentation is going to be good, and is. You can spot the facial expression on the chorus members in the back of the stage, and the detail in the band members can be clearly discerned, and the image retains a solid multidimensional feel. This looks good on Blu-ray.
You get a two channel PCM track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround option, and the DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 surround sound track is the last choice out there. The music is well-balanced, with Shaw's vocals in the center channel and the guitars in either front channel. Directional activity is minimal, though speaker panning is evident and effective. I was almost expecting subwoofer engagement would be a little more than it was, but this is as straightforward as a high definition presentation as you're going to get.
Two additional songs that are Christmas themed which, for a concert in May, is an odd choice, start things off. They're a couple decent songs, though hardly anything special. Some interview footage with Shaw and Symphony conductor Liza Grossman is next (9:44), as both parties discuss the genesis of the project. A camera focused on drummer Todd Sucherman performing a song and drum solo round the disc out.
Styx might not be for everybody, but they try to put on a show that includes their old songs and does them with a nice flair. It gets a little bit tired and long in parts, and at almost two hours, is about 15 minutes too long. But the performance looks and sounds good in high definition, so if you like progressive rock combined with orchestral elements in a high definition format, you'll like this.