As of last week, rock veterans REO Speedwagon -- Kevin Cronin (vocals, guitar), Dave Amato (lead guitar), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums) -- are on the road with the "Midwest Rock N' Roll Express" tour across parts of North America.
Prior to the outing, Cronin gave a statement to the press, saying, "I am a Midwest boy, born and raised with Midwest values.... In the Midwest we work hard, play hard and rock hard." Fans can catch the tour on Thursday (5/17) at Charlotte, NC's Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. The 26-city trek, which also features Styx and Ted Nugent, is slated to wrap in early July.
SoundSpike photographer Eric Sauseda was among the guests with permission to take pictures during REO Speedwagon's performance at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, TX, and here are some of his best shots.
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PHILIPPINE TIMES (bi-weekly Los Angeles newspaper geared at the Filipino community): Secured live review of the 5/6 Los Angeles show by Raul Balboa. Run date: May 10-16 issue.
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When dinosaurs roamed the earth, Saturday night in America was a pretty awesome place to party.
Considering how many times both Styx and REO Speedwagon must have been through Houston, this weekend's stop on their tandem "Midwest Rock N' Roll Express" tour couldn't help but feel haunted by the ghosts of Arrowfests past. Both bands are hard-rock groups that scored their biggest success with disgustingly maudlin radio-friendly power ballads, and both stubbornly refuse to acknowledge themselves as relics from another era.
Well into their second or even third generation of fans, why should they? The way the three kids in Styx shirts behind me, who couldn't have been older than ten or 11, were playing air drums during REO Speedwagon's set, both bands' appeal could be as strong as it ever was.In keeping with their origins as a scrappy college-town bar band in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, REO is mostly hung up on girls, one way or another: Can't live with them ("Time for Me to Fly," "Back on the Road Again") or without them ("Can't Fight This Feeling," "Keep On Lovin' You"). Besides learning some wicked lessons from ZZ Top and Deep Purple, it's remarkable how many of their songs contain commands in the title: "Don't Let Him Go," "Take It On the Run," "Keep On Pushin'."
It would be incorrect to call them naifs, because any band that can write from such a bitter place as "Take It On the Run" knows just how cruel the world can be, but REO hasn't lost a certain sense of small-town wonder. "Golden Country," one of the oldest songs they played Saturday, brought the crowd to its feet when the LED screen showed the Stars and Stripes. Later, singer Kevin Cronin brought astronaut Col. Douglas Wheelock onstage to thank him for bringing an 8-track of Hi Infidelity to the International Space Station in a moment that... sorry, it was just cool.
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A generation ago, teenagers everywhere loved rock bands Styx and REO Speedwagon.
It's 2012, we're still around getting old and gray, and both bands still performed spectacularly under a full moon Sunday before a capacity crowd at the Greek Theatre.
Who would have thunk? The critics and "cool people" never liked such "faceless" acts as Styx and REO Speedwagon back in the day -- despite the multiplatinum records, hit radio songs and sold-out arena tours -- but there they were both at the Greek performing a stream of well-executed classic hits as the place went wild.
Styx guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young and part-time bassist Chuck Panozzo (who joined for the last few songs) are holdovers from the group's heyday, and Shaw was in an especially good mood. "It's always great to be playing the Greek -- and not just because my house is five minutes away!" Shaw told the crowd.
Shaw had his best moments on "Foolin' Youself," "Blue Collar Man" and "Renegade," and Young kicked ass on "Miss America" and "Lorelei."
Keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan, who joined in 1999 as a replacement for Dennis DeYoung, sounded like a god on "Grand Illusion," "Lady" and a stirring rendition of "Come Sail Away" that saw confetti stream down onto the crowd.
There were nearly 6,000 in attendance, and all of us liked Styx more than the Sex Pistols when we were growing up, though we did not want to admit so at the time for fear of being beat up by a punk rocker. Well, we're still here, Styx is still here, and that was reason enough to pump our fists in the air and sing along to every chorus. REO Speedwagon went over well, too. Like Styx, the fivesome hails from Illinois but now makes its home in Los Angeles, and singer Kevin Cronin proved he meant business right away by starting off with "Take It on the Run."
A memorable hit was never more than a few minutes away, as REO Speedwagon pumped its way through "Can't Fight This Feeling," "Pushin' On," "Time for Me to Fly," "Ridin' the Storm Out" and, of course, "Keep on Loving You."
The sun was still out when Ted Nugent opened. The 63-year-old guitarist does not have as many familiar songs but got a good response with "Hey Baby," "Cat Scratch Fever," "Stranglehold" and a few others.
Outspoken as always, Nugent came off as a bit of a braggart after announcing his was the tightest band in the world, then later this was the greatest song in the world, then this is greatest guitar riff in the world, etc. Hey Ted, then why are you billed third?
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Ain't it grand. That was the sentiment Saturday night at the Frederick Fairgrounds as organizers and fairgoers alike celebrated 100 years of the grandstand that sits at the center of the complex -- a grandstand that played host to REO Speedwagon, the first in a week's worth of musical performers set to take the stage this week as part of The Great Frederick Fair. Grand may have been an understatement for Candice Bowers, of Manassas, Va., and her friends Lavonda Snider and Nicole Wyatt, both of Roanoke, Va. The trio of REO Speedwagon fans came fully prepared for Saturday night's concert, lugging along one object always essential for a night filled with rock 'n' roll: a homemade quilt. "She's amazing," Snider said of Bowers, the seamstress behind the blanket's architecture. "It probably only took her 30 minutes to make." Actually, it didn't. The product of two weeks' work, Bowers said she built the quilt with the sole purpose of getting it in lead singer Kevin Cronin's hands before the end of the night. According to Bowers, a schoolteacher, the body of the cloth featured the names of each band member throughout its storied history, along with the titles and release dates of each of the group's 25 original albums in honor of the 30th anniversary of one of the band's most successful releases, "Hi Infidelity."And if that wasn't enough to prove how much the group means to her, maybe the "E" that sat proudly on top of her white T-shirt as part of the combined "REO" Bowers and her friends combined to spell was. Despite her love for the band, Bowers said Frederick marked only the third time she has seen them perform. That's a trend she said she hopes to change after Saturday night. "The first time I saw them was in 1984," Bowers said, adding that Snider was with her at the time while Wyatt was "not even a baby." "Husbands and children and jobs got in the way, and we recently found them again." "Finding them" may have been an understatement as well. All three women went on to tell a story that featured what they called one of the most memorable experiences of their lives while seeing the group perform in Cherokee, N.C. After catching a guitar pick from lead singer Kevin Cronin, Snider said they were then able to talk to both Cronin and bassist Bruce Hall after the performance. Since then, Bowers said she has been able to keep in touch with Hall via Facebook, and various members of the band know exactly who Bowers, Snider and Wyatt are. "As long as they keep touring, we are going to be there," Bowers said while smiling. Not everybody at Saturday night's event could claim the same type of close encounters. The mother-son tandem of Lori and Mike Webber were aching to get through the gate as they waited to see REO Speedwagon for the first time. "I grew up in the '80s, so I really want to see them," Lori Webber, a Frederick resident, said with enthusiasm. "Growing up with that kind of music, this is something I really want to see." Proving the band's music has the ability to transcend generations, her son Mike quickly pointed out his reasoning to attend the concert with his mother. "In terms of more modern music, I listen to today's hits," the teenager said. "But I think there is a lot of what went into '80s music that is instilled in music today. A lot of the same beats, a lot of the same themes." Beats and themes were abound as REO took the stage to a recording of the Sam and Dave classic "Soul Man." The group then launched into the drum-heavy "Don't Let Him Go" before slowing down with "Keep On Loving You." "We started with the first two songs off the 'Hi Infidelity' record," Cronin shouted to the crowd after "Keep On Loving You." "And we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of that record, so we are going to play a whole mess of songs off that record." That they did. "In Your Letter," "Take It on the Run" and "Someone Tonight" all made appearances in the band's set that lasted well into the lit-up sky's night. But even as the hits kept coming and concertgoers kept singing, there was one thing about Saturday night's concert that was going to either make or break the evening for three women sitting not too far from the front row. "I got my picture taken," Bowers said minutes before REO Speedwagon appeared. "Lavonda took the picture while I was up there." Sure enough, in the frame of a digital camera appeared a pixelated portrait of Bowers handing over a bag to one of the band's guitar technicians. According to Bowers, the three women were assured the quilt would get into the band's possession before the end of the night. But after all the miles traveled, all the memories made and all the time and effort put into the construction of one blanket that may or may not ever make its way to its destination, was the night considered "grand" by any of the three women proudly displaying the letters "R" "E" and "O" on three separate T-shirts? "It's special," Bowers said, smiling. "It's definitely special." Copyright 2011 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.Click here for review.