Dennis DeYoung
Rosemont Theatre
Rosemont, IL
May 11, 2002
By Allan Hirt

Dennis DeYoung returned to the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, IL, for the third time since February, 2000. All three shows were Dennis and his band backed by a symphonic orchestra. Dennis has played a handful of symphonic dates outside of the Chicago area (dates in Milwaukee and New York), and has an upcoming date in Houston with a symphonic orchestra.

The Venue
The Rosemont Theatre is a great venue to see a show. As this was my second time here, I knew the setup would be essentially the same. Dennis was selling CDs, and at one of his shows is still the only place to buy the Hunchback CD. Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures, so you can't see any shots from the show.

General Concert Comments
The show was scheduled to start at 8 PM, and as most rock shows go, it started approximately 15 minutes late. The show had two sets, and finished a little bit before 11 PM. Once again, it looked like Dennis was videotaping the show (as he did the 2/2000 show).

For the first time, Dennis referred to himself as "former" (I forget if it was singer, keyboardist, or both) when it came to Styx. So if any of you had doubts about would he go back, let Dennis' comment speak for itself.

Dennis was in a good mood, and was joking with the audience throughout.

Specific music/performance comments below ...

The Setlist
Set One
1. Orchestral Medley
If I'm not mistaken, this was the same as the 2000 show. Nice arrangement by Arnie Roth.
2. Rockin' the Paradise
Dennis played piano a bit at the end of the song.
3. Lady
Dennis also played piano for the first half of the tune (as he did with Styx).
4. Desert Moon
Would it be a Dennis show without it? I like what the orchestra adds to this one.
5. Eine Kleine Nachtmusic intro/Lorelei
The orchestra played the introduction (with Hank also doing some bass), and then they went into "Lorelei".
6. Summertime
Unlike any of the shows I've seen so far, Hank used a real upright bass for this tune and it enhanced things. Dennis nailed the performance.
7. Show Me The Way (A Capella)
This was done with Dennis, Hank Horton, a children's choir, Mike Eldred, Dawn Marie, Suzanne DeYoung, and Carrie Ann DeYoung.
8. Ave Maria
This was done with Mike Eldred singing the lead vocals and was the first time it had been done (outside of the CD and the one Hunchback run in TN a few years back). This was backed by the children's choir.
9. Castle Walls
I knew he was going to do this, and let me tell you, it didn't temper my enthusiam. It sounded great. I'm not sure if it was ever done on the Grand Illusion tour (I think it may have been done once and I have it on tape somewhere; it's either that or "Man In The Wilderness"). Anyway, as good as I'm sure it sounds with the rock band alone, the orchestra really added a dimension to the tune (and considering the original used an ARP String Ensemble, you do the math). Nice to hear Dennis pulling out the chestnuts and changing up set lists a bit (hint hint ...)
10. Mr. Roboto
Towards the end of the song, there was a microphone and sound problem. Apparently there was a lighning strike that caused problems. Yikes! I still contend the Rye, NY, show was the best live version of the song.
11. Claire De Lune
Rick and the orchestra played "Claire De Lune" (one of Dennis' Dad's favorite tunes according to the intro), and then they launched directly into ...
12. Don't Let It End
Done the same was as the 2000 show where he ended the 1st set this way.

Set Two
1. Grand Illusion (pretty much straight into ...)
This is roughly the same as the version on The Ultimate Collection.
2. My G-d Can Beat Up Your G-d
This is the new song written by Dennis. This is not on any album, and there is no scheduled release that I know of that it will be on at the present time. It is definitely not a ballad, and is reminiscent of a later Dennis DeYoung rock-type track(it had some cool chordal, almost Middle Eastern, stuff in the middle that definitely gave it a Styx flavor). After the song was over, Dennis made a comment to the effect of "That wasn't a ballad". The way he said it, depending on your interpretation, it could be addressing his critics who have been saying that Dennis can't either write a rock song or rock anymore. Maybe not, but that's up to you to decide.
3. Paradise
Hunchback song #2. Unlike the normal Dennis shows, this was backed by the orchestra and not taped music. Dawn Marie did a good job as always.
4. With Every Heartbeat
Hunchback song #3. Sounded great, and I'm surprised Dennis doesn't do more Hunchback normally.
5. Suite Madame Blue
What can I say here? Dennis owns this song, and no matter how good or bad Gowan can pull it off on any given night, this is a Dennis signature song.
6. Babe
Dennis played the piano for this one. It was funny - he almost forgot to play since he was used to having Rick do it. Funny moment.
7. The Best Of Times/AD 1958
This is the same way they have been doing it for a long time - like the Return to Paradise tour.
8. Come Sail Away (encore)
Dennis' dream speech is the same as it has been since August, 2001, or so - where he talks about getting a new dream, etc. Dennis played no piano or keyboards.

The Crowd
I don't know exact numbers (it seats somewhere around 3,000 or 4,000), but most of the seats were full, if not all (a few floor seats and some at the very top of the venue). Yet again, the crowd was really into the show, singing along and having a good time. There were a few yahoos in the audience yelling "Freebird" (for the record, this is the dumbest thing I hear at nearly every concert ... it's not funny and just plain annoying; to his credit, Dennis made a joke about it), and someone yelled out "Call Me" at one point.

The Band/Performers
Dennis DeYoung - vocals/piano
Dawn Marie Fusi- vocals/backing vocals
Mike Eldred - vocals/backing vocals
Tom Djallo - guitar, occasional backing vocals
Alison "Hank" Horton - electric and upright basses, backing vocals
Rick Schneider (Snyder?) - piano/keyboards
Kyle Woodry - drums
Arnie Roth - Conductor
Local Children's Choir (forgot the name)

The core band is the same that Dennis has had on the road recently with the additions noted above.

February 12, 2000 vs. May 11, 2002
Compared to the February 12, 2002, show which marked Dennis' "comeback", I am mixed ... for some reasons, I would tend to say that first show was more special and possibly better because I hadn't ever heard Dennis solo (sans bootleg from a 10 on Broadway Show), and it was with an orchestra. And the song selection of that show was a bit different - that show also featured "Someone to Watch Over Me", "Harry's Hands", "Who Will Love This Child", "Esmerelda", "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", and "Great Balls of Fire" instead of a few songs here (for a complete list, click here). That show also featured Dennis more on keyboards, and yes, he joked in this about not playing them and basically said "tough", but there are those of us who would like to see him play more than he does these days. For me, one of the highlights of that 2000 show was seeing Dennis behind the old white piano (not with the electronic piano in the shell, but the real deal), playing "Come Sail Away" and also playing the Oberheim for the solo. That show ranks up as one of my favorite shows, period, so it's hard to compare this new show, which while on the surface is similar, is not.

I also thought the sound quality was a bit superior in terms of the mix at that show, but maybe it was the seats and location in relation to the speakers.

Final Thoughts
Even if you have seen Dennis' solo show, seeing it with a symphony is another experience. Do it if you can. Or even if you just catch Dennis with the band only, it's a great evening of entertainment, especially now that he has a new song and "Castle Walls" is part of the set.