Dennis DeYoung
Grand Cayman Ballroom
Trump Marina
Atlantic City, NJ
February 23, 2002
By Allan Hirt

As some of you may know, Dennis DeYoung is embarking on his first proper solo tour, which I first mentioned in my post-show report for Dennis' Rye Playland show. The Atlantic City date was the second night (the first was at the Turning Stone Casino the night before in Verona, NY). There are currently a handful of small band shows planned for Dennis for 2002 (The Grove of Anaheim in Anaheim, CA on 3/1, Mohegan Sun Casino in CT on 5/17 & 18, and the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, OH on 8/23).

The Venue
Unlike the Styx show I saw back in September, there were seats for this concert. No mosh, pit, sorry ;)

The Concert
The Music/Performance
The show was slated to begin at 9 PM, but started about 9:15. The stage was pretty basic, as was the lighting, but it worked. Dennis was definitely in good voice, and looked not only comfortable, but happy and relaxed. He was joking with the crowd all evening with his one liners that seemed oddly fitting given the venue. And he poked some good fun at himself - especially around Kilroy (funny bit that involved Hank). Overall, I'd say the band and show were more relaxed than the Rye show. "Rockin' The Paradise" was possibly the best version I've heard live yet - it had so much energy! (And if you want a comparison ... even more energy than what Styx does on Styxworld with Larry. For anyone who says Dennis still can't rock, you're wrong!) "Paradise" was nice to hear, but it was (unfortunately) the "let's get up and get a drink" song. The concert seemed to flow a bit better than the Rye show.
Dennis almost forgot the words quickly in the beginning of "Come Sail Away" - maybe due to the crowd singing, but he laughed it off when he caught himself. Just goes to prove that even professionals are human. During "Babe", Dennis walked over to the side of the stage and had a spotlight put on Suzanne. "Roboto" got a really warm reception, as it has the past two times I've seen Dennis.

Some of you might be wondering if Dennis addressed the whole lawsuit thing ... well, I won't speak for Dennis, but I think he may have alluded to it in his "dreams" speech before "Come Sail Away". And no, he didn't slam the guys.

The Setlist
This is pretty much the same setlist from Rye, NY, in a bit of a different order. It also had one more song apparently than the night before in Verona ("Don't Let It End"), but I can't say for sure as I was not there and only saw one report from that show.
1. Grand Illusion (pretty much straight into ...)
2. Lady
3. Desert Moon
4. Lorelei
5. Don't Let It End
6. Suite Madame Blue
7. Summertime
8. Show Me The Way (A Capella)
9. Light Up
10. Rockin' The Paradise
11. Paradise (Dawn Marie alone; "Hunchback" version)
12. Babe
13. Mr. Roboto
14. The Best Of Times/AD 1958
15. Come Sail Away (encore)

The Crowd
I don't know exact numbers, but most of the seats were full, if not all. For a casino crowd (and if you've been to a casino show, you know what I'm talking about), they were not typical. The reason for this is the comp tickets that are given out sometimes are given to people who don't care. It seemed like they actually wanted to see the show. The people behind me called it the best concert they had ever seen on the way out.

The crowd sang along for a lot of the concert, and was overpowering during "Come Sail Away". You could tell Dennis appreciated it. Loudest I've probably heard at any Styx related concert - Styx proper (including '96, '97, '99, '00, and '01) and previous Dennis shows.

In the beginning of the concert, you could hear comments like "nothing like hearing the guy who made the songs" (people behind me), "JY sucks" (yelled pretty loudly), and "you are Styx" (yelled from somewhere in the room). right before Dennis. To be fair, I've seen plenty of "Dennis Who?" type of signs during Styx shows, so I pretty much expected this. I've seen both Dennis and Styx, and don't get that whole thing, but hey, to each his own. I would encourage people not to get into this stuff since everything is settled, and let's just appreciate the music (standing off soapbox ...).

The Band
Dennis DeYoung - vocals
Tom Djallo - guitar, occasional backing vocals
Alison "Hank" Horton - bass, backing vocals
Rick Schneider (Snyder?) - keyboards
Kyle Woodry - drums
Dawn Marie Fusi- backing vocals

The band except the keyboard player is different from the Rye, NY, show (and is the 3rd keyboard player since 2000 I've seen Dennis with). To be honest, it was Rick's second show with the band (so take my comments with a grain of salt), but I didn't think he was as good as Don from the Rye, NY, show. I thought he was a bit sloppy in certain parts (good example: the part in "Roboto" where DDY sings "The problem's plain to see ..." and there are the keyboard arpeggiated sounding things - they were sloppy. It looked like he was playing a Korg M1, so it may have just been a function of not enough keys, but that didn't exactly bowl me over.) Overall, he was very good and played some complex stuff, and even managed to play some multiple parts at once that were impressive.

The night before in Verona, NY, Dennis apparently sat behind the keyboards and took some requests, playing bits of songs (including "Castle Walls"). He did not do that at all this evening, nor, like the Rye show, did he even do the solo in "Come Sail Away". That to me was the only letdown to some degree, but it's nitpicking.

I'll say it again ... I'm glad Dennis lost (or has really learned to control) a lot of the affectation that I think colored him doing some Styx songs in '96 and '97. He has his rock voice back, but can do all the vibrato and show-y kind of stuff when he needs to (a la "Summertime").

Final Thoughts
Get out and see Dennis ... even though he isn't in Styx or touring with them anymore doesn't mean you can't enjoy him in concert. And even if you're someone who has historically "sided" with the new version of Styx, now that Dennis and Styx have settled their lawsuit, there's no need for animosity anymore.