by Ian Storck
The Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre is slowly filling as the massive crowd pours in through several lengthy lines. The classic rock lineup is here to get “unzoomed” and to bring large live music tours back to the masses.
Before Loverboy has even started the show, the crowd is already getting ready for a wild night, and the pregaming is well underway. The short set gets a loud reaction from the half of the crowd that has filled in, and there’s plenty of singing along, especially for their last two songs of the set: “Turn Me Loose” and “Working for the Weekend.”
As the sun finally starts to set, and the majority of the crowd has arrived, the mood really starts feeling like the epic arena tour that it is. Illinois natives REO Speedwagon kick off their set, with “Music Man” and “Take It on the Run.” Singer Kevin Cronin mentions to the audience that he’s 70 years old, which would be surprising to anyone not familiar with the history of REO, as the energy of all of the members is incredible. During the set they run across the stage, doing solos and playing with each other, and the energy seriously matches that of any modern rock band full of young lads. It’s particularly awesome to see a group after 55 years continue to have that energy and love of playing on stage. The sing-alongs with the crowd are plenty, from “Can’t Fight this Feeling” to “Keep on Loving You,” and the rest of their packed 13 song set.
The legendary Styx opens their set with “The Fight of Our Lives” off of their latest release, Crash of the Crown, a very short introduction song, that quickly transitions to “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights).” This performance is basically Styx and their audience, as there really isn’t a moment where the crowd isn’t loudly singing along. The stage energy of REO is kept up if mostly through the presence of Styx keyboardist and vocalist Lawrence Gowan, who continually rotates on his keyboard stand, kicks the air, and runs and jumps all over the stage. The set is jam-packed with tons of recognizable hits, like “Lady” and “Too Much Time on My Hands,” but also a few tracks from the latest release placed throughout.
Partway through the show, an Illinois Rock and Roll Museum representative takes the stage to induct Styx, who were formed in Chicago in 1972, into their Hall of Fame. At this time, Tommy Shaw also announces that founding Styx member and bassist Chuck Panozzo would be joining them on stage for a few songs. “Lost at Sea,” another track from Crash of the Crown, is played, leading up to “Come Sail Away,” which understandably garners massive crowd involvement and singing with its epic chorus. It’s a fitting finale to the set, but with Styx’s long discography, certain hits have still gone unplayed, and they return to the stage for an encore of “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade.”
The show is an excellent lineup, and a showcase of the long-lasting power of live rock music. They don’t make groups like this anymore, and the tour is not one to be missed.
Check out the remaining dates here.
The Fight of Our Lives
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
The Grand Illusion
Crash of the Crown
Sound the Alarm
Rockin’ the Paradise
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Too Much Time on My Hands
Lost at Sea
Come Sail Away