For a couple hours on Tuesday night in Great Falls, Montana, REO Speedwagon took the crowd of 5000 away from their worries of unemployment, the national debt, war, and united the young and the old with old-fashioned ear-splitting rock and roll.
It was just a normal Tuesday night for REO – a sixteen song set list that had something for everyone from the 1973 song “Ridin’ the Storm Out” to the 1971 political song “Golden Country” – they’ve been doing these shows in one form or the other since 1967.
More importantly, this was a chance to celebrate the 30th anniversary of REO’s greatest selling album from 1981 titled, “Hi Infidelity.” So hearing REO kick off the concert with “Don’t Let Him Go” and continuing with “Keep on Loving You,” “In Your Letter,” “Someone Tonight,” “Tough Guys” and “Take it on the Run” from that album was nothing short of a classic rock celebration.
A pleasant surprise was hearing REO perform “Son of a Poor Man” from their 1973 album, “Ridin’ the Storm Out.” “Son of a Poor Man” caught my attention way back in 1977 when they performed it at a Summer Jam at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
The power ballad “Can’t Fight This Feeling” from their 1984 album “Wheels Are Turnin'” had those rockers in attendance looking for someone to hug just as 1979’s “Back on the Road Again” had the guys singing along with REO bassist Bruce Hall, “Please don’t hate me mama for what I’m about to do…But the good times we’ve had together are just about now through.”
The Montana State Fair personnel had their hands full in Four Seasons Arena during the concert with overflowing crowds, and some long lines for food. I noticed very few issues with security, although one intoxicated skanky old rocker chick tried to climb through the rows of seats to get near the front. Security never stopped her, but she ran into me and my entourage and her climb to the front was halted. The air conditioning in the arena seemed to be non-existent (maybe it’s to get more sales at the concessions).
Hopefully the Montana State Fair officials see that classic rock bands bring in the fans. In 2010 we had Styx. 2011 was REO Speedwagon. Next year? How about Cheap Trick!
Having seen REO Speedwagon perform over 20 times in my life, I can say without a doubt that they are one of the few bands who can put on a live show that mirrors their studio recordings – and they just keep on rolling. They interact with their audience well – they throw out some free stuff – they make you feel good – and they leave you wanting more.
Feeling good is what rock and roll is really all about…
REO Speedwagon is:
-Kevin Cronin – Lead vocals, Rhythm Guitar
-Dave Amato – Lead Guitar / Harmony Vocals
-Bruce Hall – Bass Guitar / Lead & Harmony Vocals
-Neal Doughty – Keyboards
-Bryan Hitt – Drums / Percussion
*Follow Jack on Twitter @TheWesternWord for his comments throughout the day!