I love these outdoor barns they have in North America. When the weather’s good – hell, even if the weather is ‘passable’ – and the classic rock is flowing as freely as the amber nectar, there’s surely no better place to be on God’s good earth.

And the classic rock is surely flowing tonight, in Toronto; Flowing like the pipes have bust and there’s not a dry spot to be found on the sidewalk for miles around. The Godlike John Waite is up first and, despite the fact that none of his band look particularly enthused about being here, he gives us forty minutes of what’s known in the trade as ‘the good stuff’. Sadly for a man with dozens of recordings under his belt and fifty years in the business he decides to treat us to a rendition of Led Zeppelin‘s Whole Lotta Love, but before that a set half made up with tracks from classic Babys albums like Head First (Every Time I Think of You and the title track) and Union Jacks (Midnight Rendezvous and Back On My Feet Again)kept all of us happy. The voice might be a little shaky in places now, but my word the class remains.

Wherever you stand on the current iteration of Foreigner, there’s no denying that ‘the Napalm Death of AOR’  put on a great show, reeling off the hits in emphatic style and with an enthusiasm even the most rabid tribute act would struggle to match. It helps, of course, that everybody on the stage is the dictionary definition of ‘incredibly accomplished and sickeningly talented’, but really, after about a minute of second track Head Games, you really stop thinking about who’s up there and just get down to the business of rocking out courtesy of some of the greatest melodic hard rock ever written. Kelly Hansen is a vocalist of titanic poise and skill – live there are few to touch him – and he underlines that fact time and again here tonight. But surely, now, with Jeff Pilson having been in the band for twenty years they could treat us to a bit of Dokken in the set? No? Okay.

Which brings us to tonight’s main attraction, Styx. Now, here’s an argument I am willing to get involved in, because I sit firmly in the camp that waits, patiently, for the return of estranged vocalist Dennis DeYoung to the fold for one last hurrah. I’ll grant you that Lawrence Gowan is an admirable stand-in – more than admirable, in fact – but, for this old curmudgeon, there’s just that little bit of over-the-top Broadway pizzazz missing without DDY acting as ringmaster.

That said, Tommy Shaw is a marvel, effortlessly transporting us back to the seventies courtesy of some great interplay with his ol’ sparring partner James ‘JY’ Young; And, where I’m sitting at least, nobody seems to mind about the Dennis-shaped hole in the onstage atmosphere. Shaw’s voice has miraculously not aged since 1977, and it’s almost tear-jerkingly fabulous to hear him belting out Too Much Time On My Hands as if the last four decades never happened. And with his own hair too…

As Mr Shaw rightly says, time is ticking away, tickng away… and we won’t have too many more opportunities to get involved in these sort of nostalgia-fuelled shenanigans – especially if you are unlucky enough to reside somewhere other than America or Canada, so at this point I decide to set down my qualms, just like I did during Foreigner and simply, soak up the beauty and the majesty. And tonight, when Chuck Panozzo walks onstage for a nice run through Lady, there’s plenty beauty and majesty to enjoy.

Mr Roboto, strangely now just as relevant as it was forty years ago, is a tension-filled extravaganza, bringing a huge roar from the crowd, who then swoon in delirium as Shaw starts up the a capella intro to Renegade, which is worth the price of admission on it’s own. This might be a Friday night in Toronto, 2024, but the power of this music means we’ll be forever young when we gather together – still thousands strong – to celebrate it’s legacy. Tonight was living proof that it doesn’t really matter who’s up there – as long as they play with reverence, respect, and joy, then it’s alright by me. And everybody involved certainly did that.