Styx opened their summer tour with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Tesla Wednesday night in Irvine, California with a first -- the first-ever full band performance of their 1983 song "Mr. Roboto," sung by their keyboardist and Dennis DeYoung sound-alike, Lawrence Gowan.
Tommy Shaw tells us, "For the longest time, 'Mr. Roboto' remained mothballed because of the feelings associated with creating it, which eventually led to the break-up of the band. But when this tour came together we realized it might be a great idea. It was time. So we worked on it individually and sometimes together in a communal dressing room, but kept it a secret up until hours before we played it... We wanted it to be a total surprise. I think we succeeded! And, by the way, it ROCKS!"
The 'ROCKS' part was James “JY” Young's idea, who says his "intention was to make sure we 'muscled' it up some more. Tommy found a cover of it by another act online that let us know it could be more muscled up, so that’s what we did."
Tommy says the "look on people’s faces was something I could feel. And then we got lost in playing it, trying to do a good job of it... And I have a feeling the video posts will be starting later in the song, because the audience is not going to be prepared for it."
He's right -- the only video posted on YouTube starts in the second verse.
Styx also re-created all the images, such as the robots and masks on the video screen. You can see the full performance on their Facebook page.
"Mr. Roboto" is the lead track on their 1983 album Kilroy Was Here, which was conceived by former lead singer and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. The concept album tells the story of a future where rock music is outlawed by a fascist and theocratic government and the Majority for Musical Morality.
Tommy Shaw on the 1983 Styx album, Kilroy Was Here: