Styx classic “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” is known for its bombastic prog arrangement, but guitarist Tommy Shaw made it even more epic with the help of Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra. The award-winning orchestra features 60 members aged 13 to 18, and despite their young age, the kids played like top flight pros, making for a special performance.
The smiles on the musicians’ faces and the enthusiastic gang vocals from the choir created a real feel-good vibe for the show. The original recording was done with a rock band format, so having a full orchestra go to town on the hit really gave it a much bigger and dramatic sound. Fans ate it up, with the video racking up no fewer than five million views, making it one of the most popular uploads on the Styx channel. Check it out for yourself below.
Shaw plays acoustic and sings lead on the performance, accompanied on guitar by orchestra musical director Will Evankovich. One of the highlights of the performance is the beautiful dual solo between the students on first violin and cello, as they work together to create their own stylish take on the synth solo from the song.
65-year-old Shaw is in excellent form for the gig, showing he can still hit all the high notes in style on the vocally-demanding song. He was in high spirits after the show, commenting: “It was so much bigger and more everlasting than any of us imagined it would be.” One of the other popular cuts from the performance is “Blue Collar Man (Sing For The Day!)”, which you can watch below.
Shaw played a number of other Styx classics at the show, namely “Too Much Time on My Hands”, “High Enough”, “Crystal Ball” and “Renegade” as well as his solo hit “Girls With Guns”.
Fans loved to hear the unique arrangement on “Fooling Yourself”, adding comments such as “In my humble opinion the greatest performance of this song I have seen,” and “This version of the song is amazing, but the smile on those kids’ faces says it all. The happiness comes through the video. Well done Tommy Shaw!”
“Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” is the second single from Styx’s seventh studio album The Grand Illusion, which was released in 1977. The song has quite a curious origin, as Shaw wrote the song as a message to his bandmate, co-lead singer Dennis DeYoung, who disliked touring and was often miserable on the road.
Shaw recalled that “The seeds of discontent had started to take over on the road. The rest of us were all really happy at the time, but Dennis wasn’t getting quite the same joy. I was trying to tell him there was all this great stuff going on, and to enjoy it more. It was frustrating to see someone so talented and loved, but not getting more out of the experience. Whether or not he understood, I don’t know. It was fairly subtle.”
In later years Shaw would note that the song could also apply to himself, with regard to his own tendency towards cynicism at times. If you would like to see more from Styx, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel. You can also visit their official website for more information.