There's something rather inspiring about witnessing an artist of a certain age metaphorically say: Fuck it. I'm NOT too old for this shit, and I'm going to do what I want.
This might be the best way to describe what the 54,039 REO Speedwagon fans experienced at Reliant Stadium Monday night when their band took the stage for a RodeoHouston concert.
Not that lead singer Kevin Cronin, his gravity defying white hair visible from any seat in the house, ever used those words the many times he talked with the audience in between songs. (Maybe he spotted the kids in the crowd usually accompanied by what looked to be their middle-aged fathers.) Yet with their opening song "Don't Let Him Go," it became apparent that this much older, but still kickin' it REO Speedwagon was going to play as they wanted and what they wanted.Those in the crowd who came expecting to see the familiar Top 40 radio and early MTV stars might have been surprised to meet REO the classic rockers from the '70s and early '80s.
This latest incarnation of the band one of many since REO formed in 1967 consists of long-time members Cronin, Bruce Hall on bass guitar and Neal Doughty on keyboards along with newer members Dave Amato who joined the band in 1989 and drummer Bryan Hitt who joined in 1990. The guitar air jumps, stage runs, multiple guitar solos and Hitt's need to go shirtless halfway through the performance all point to a band having immense fun and who seemed just happy to be in the middle of the Reliant stage looking up at all those fans surrounding them.
When Cronin told the crowd they had played some big gigs in the past, "but nothing like this," there might have even been a little awe in his voice. Yet, the band seemed least likely to act their age when the spirit of classic rock took hold of them.
REO sprinkled their hour long play list with several of their biggest hits everyone could sing along with: "Take It On the Run," "Time for me to Fly" and "Keep on Loving You." When they got to the one we all were waiting for "Can't Stop This Feeling," Cronin gave a bit of music history lesson, explaining how they wanted to emulate the Beatles' ability to cross rock and pop genres, that they were attempting to write their own "Yesterday."
But by placing their biggest hit only halfway through the concert, they made it clear this song was just one of many they love to play.
The crowd might have cried for and sang every note of "Can't Stop This Feeling," but the hearts of REO belonged back in the 1970s, if Cronin's eloquent introduction to "Golden Country" was any gage. This political song written when they were young men who thought they had something to teach the world and the closing song of the night "Ridin the Storm" a release from 1973 might not have served fan expectations.
Instead these songs proved that for deep, energetic performances it's best to let rockers of a certain age rock on any way they please.
Don't Let Him Go
Take It On the Run
Can't Fight This Feeling
That Ain't Love
Time For Me to Fly
Back On the Road
Keep on Loving You
Roll with the Changes
Ridin The Storm Out
Two classic rock forces Chicago and REO Speedwagon come together for one concert at the Washington State Fair on Sept. 9.
The appearance is part of their summer tour and part of the fair's Columbia Bank concert series.
Legendary Chicago is the first American rock band to chart Top 40 albums in six decades. With 22 million albums sold in the U.S., 40 million around the globe, REO Speedwagon has brought classic rock to fans since the early 1970s.
It is the first time the bands have performed together.
Tickets are $80 (Golden Circle), $50, and $40 with reserved seating and include fair gate admission. Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 8 on the fair website or by phone at 888-559-FAIR (3247) daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets also can be purchased in person at the fair's box office at 9th Avenue Southwest and Meridian Street on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a $1 per ticket service fee will be charged for on-site purchases.
To make it a very special evening, ticket holders to the Chicago and REO Speedwagon concert can purchase a pre-show dinner for $55 each.
"It's ironic, that these two legendary bands, who both have roots in Illinois, were label-mates (Columbia/Epic) in the '70s, and experienced waves of immense success in the '80s and '90s, and have somehow continued to consistently make compelling music, both in studio and on tour ... have never before performed together," said Chicago's Robert Lamm. "This situation is about to change. ... As a musician who has always respected REO's skills, I look forward to our first rehearsals early this summer. This will be fun."
"With so many personal connections between various members of REO and Chicago, it is amazing that we have never actually toured together. I love it that the Chicago guys feel the way we do about truly playing together when you tour together," said REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin. "This tour promises to deliver some unique music from two bands who have made a ton of hit records, share that Midwest work ethic, and still refuse to sit back on their past accomplishments. We both keep raising the bar, challenging ourselves and rocking hard."
In March of 2013, Chicago's multi-platinum two-disc bestseller, The Very Best Of Chicago, Only The Beginning charted at #1 on two Billboard charts. In Billboard magazine's list of Top 100 artists of all time, Chicago came in at #13, the highest charting American band. Chicago will be performing on the Grammy stage for the first time in 2014, and their album The Chicago Transit Authority was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame this year.
Formed in 1967 in Chicago, the group produced a steady stream of hits Formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois, the group has produced a steady stream of hits throughout their career, including "25 or 6 to 4," "Saturday In The Park," "Hard Habit To Break," "If You Leave Me Now" and many more.
Lifetime achievements include a Grammy Award, multiple American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Chicago street dedicated in their honor, and keys to and proclamations from an impressive list of US cities. Record sales top the 100 million mark, and include 21 Top 10 singles, five consecutive No. 1 albums, 11 No. 1 singles and five Gold singles.
The lineup includes original band members Robert Lamm on keyboards, vocals, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, James Pankow on trombone and Walt Parazaider on woodwinds, as well as Jason Scheff on bass, vocals, Tris Imboden on drums, Keith Howland on guitar, Lou Pardini on keyboards, vocals and Wally Reyes on percussion.
From the signature sound of the Chicago horns, their iconic vocalists, and a few dozen of ever-classic songs, this band's concerts are celebrations. The band is now in their 46th consecutive year of touring, without missing a single concert date!
Chicago continues to be true ambassadors for their beloved hometown, carrying the city's name with pride and dignity around the world. Chicago is currently recording new songs.
For more information visit www.chicagotheband.com.
Formed in 1967, signed in 1971, and fronted by Kevin Cronin since 1972, REO Speedwagon has rocked to the top of the charts with RIAA-certified 22 million albums sold in the U.S., 40 million around the globe, and a string of gold and platinum records. The group's nine-times certified platinum Hi Infidelity spent 15 weeks in the #1 slot.
Over 30 years later, Cronin and band mates Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (lead guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums) are still electrifying concert audiences across the nation. Live at Moondance Jam - the band's hit-filled performance from the country's premier classic rock festival, was released in both a Blu-ray and a deluxe edition (containing a CD and DVD in a glossy digipak) on Nov. 19, 2013.
REO unveiled the band's "Great Chicago Fire Hydrant" as part of a citywide Chicago public art installation project to benefit the 100 Club Chicago. Recently, REO Speedwagon and STYX organized Rock To The Rescue Extends A Hand To Those In Need, a benefit concert to raise funds for central Illinois communities that were affected by the recent devastating tornadoes. This concert raised in excess of $400,000 and REO Speedwagon continues to raise funds for Rock To The Rescue at shows in the Midwest.