“United We Rock Tour 2017”
REO Speedwagon, Styx with Special Guest Don Felder
The Greek Theatre L.A. 6/24/17
Review and Pictures: Diane Lynn
Even though the official start of summer 2017 had just kicked off, it was already an exceptionally hot day in L.A. But the fans coming into the Greek Theatre didn’t care…they were ready to rock! As I waited along with nearly 6,000 fans for the show to start I was trying to recall the last time I had seen either REO Speedwagon or STYX play. I had seen REO back in 2011 for the 30th anniversary of the Hi Infidelity album but I don’t think I’ve seen STYX since the 1981 Paradise Theatre tour. Had it really been 36 years?! This thought was not only confusing (since I’m only 30 years old – and will forever be.. ) (Editor’s note: cough, cough) but it also made me even more excited about seeing them. It was during this trip back in my mind that opener, Don Felder came out to start the night.
Don Felder seems to have quite a following even though it’s been several years since separating from The Eagles. The crowd immediately stood up and let him know they were welcoming him as a solo artist and it set the tone for a great set. Don touched on all the hits from his Eagles days, “The Long Run”, “Take It Easy” (with a guest appearance from Tommy Shaw of STYX to accompany him on guitar) and of course the classic “Hotel California”.
Don is supported by a fantastic group of musicians; On bass & backing vocals, Kasim Sulton (Blue Oyster Cult, Utopia, Joan Jett). Drummer & backing vocals, Stevie Distanislao (David Gilmour, Kenny Loggins, David Crosby). Keyboard & backing vocals, Timothy Drury (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Bryan Adams). And guitarist & backing vocals, Greg Suran (Joe Walsh, The Goo Goo Dolls, The B52’s). A solid lineup!
Next up, the band that I had apparently missed seeing for the past 35+ years, STYX!
“Light it up, let’s get this show on the road”…They started out with a brand new (kick-ass) song, “Gone, Gone Gone” from their recently released (June 16th) album The Mission. This was the first of the two songs they played off the new album and the fans definitely liked what they were hearing. Besides the two new songs the rest of the set list was a “best of”, touching on 6 of their 16 studio albums.
One of the highlights for me was shortly after they started their set they brought out their original bassist Chuck Panozzo. He and his brother John Panozzo are part of the founding members of STYX, John being the drummer up until the mid-90’s but sadly passing away in 1996. Chuck and the rest of the band took to the stage without missing a beat and presented a show for us that night that I will never forget!
Styx is comprised of some amazing talent. Long time members include Lead Guitarist, James “J.Y.” Young and Guitarist, Tommy Shaw. Both have also had successful solo projects with Tommy also being a part of the highly successful group “Damn Yankees”. Bassist, Ricky Phillips who comes to the band with a long list of credits behind him such as The Baby’s, Coverdale-Page and Sammy Hagar to name a few. Drummer, Todd Sucherman, who has played with the likes of Spinal Tap and Brian Wilson. Lead vocalist, Larry Gowan who replaced Dennis DeYoung back in 1999 and as I mentioned, founding member Chuck Panozzo who on this tour occasionally comes out for a portion of the set to the thrill and delight of the fans.
The sun had set around this amazing outdoor venue which made for a light show that was just as spectacular as their performance! I’m so thankful for the various fans who took snippets of video of this night so that it can be relived over and over. Yep – it was that good! I could kick myself for not going to see Styx for all these years since the Paradise Theatre Tour in 1981 (I still have that concert tee) but this one night…this night at The Greek Theatre…36 years later has made up for it tenfold!
For the final “blast from the past” REO Speedwagon!
These guys never fail to entertain! Kevin “K.C.” Cronin is a great front man, a true entertainer and an amazing vocalist who I swear hasn’t aged one bit!
The set list for REO this night included songs from several albums, but mostly touched on their extremely popular album, Hi Infidelity. They included their 2014 song, “Whipping Boy” which Kevin described as a song “about our belief that people have a natural desire to be treated as equals” which seems even more appropriate and timely now. As Kevin said before the band played it, he writes “songs that are important to everyone, songs that bring us all together”. The song is a great addition to their classic set and hopefully will be recorded and included on a new album soon?!
There are a few REO songs that will forever trigger memories from my past and it was a thrill to once again hear them being played live. One of those songs is “Keep Pushin” which was an anthem for me back in the day. It seemed to trigger the same feelings for a lot of people as the crowd rose to their feet (and stayed there for just about the entire set) and sang along with every word. The hits seemed endless….”Take It On The Run”, “Don’t Let Him Go”, “Can’t fight This Feeling”. With every tune they played you could see people turning to their friend or spouse or even the stranger next to them with that look of “Oh my Gawd, I love this song”!
REO Speedwagon has had this solid lineup since 1989! In 1967, founding member and keyboardist, Neal Doughty brought together REO Speedwagon and has been touring and recording with the band ever since. Lead vocalist, Kevin “K.C.” Cronin. Kevin joined the band for a short stint in 1971 returning permanently in 1976 bringing the high energy to the stage that you still see today. Bassist, Bruce Hall joined the band in 1977, making an appearance on the album, You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish released the following year. He also wrote and sings on a few of their songs including “Back on the Road Again”. Lead Guitarist, Dave Amato joined the band back in 1989. Dave has played with the likes of Ted Nugent, Cher and Black Oak Arkansas as well doing some backing vocals for David Lee Roth, Kim Carnes and Motley Crue. Drummer, Bryan Hitt also joined REO back in 1989. Bryan has played with Graham Nash, The Spencer Davis Group and Wang Chung. All long time members, dedicated to the band, to the fans, and to the music!
The band ended the night on high notes, including “Riding The Storm Out” which was a favorite for me this evening. For the encore, Kevin took to the piano for “Keep On Loving You” and finished off their amazing set with “Roll With The Changes”. Is there a song that isn’t a crowd favorite?! I think not!
REO Speedwagon is a band you should always look forward to seeing when they come around. I walked away smiling and the playlist in my car just changed… Riding The Storm Out is how I Roll-With The Changes!
The United We Rock Tour, is doing just that… Bringing fans together and reminding them to not forget their favorite tunes of the past while looking forward to hearing new tunes from their favorite bands in the future.
Thank you REO Speedwagon, Styx and of course, Don Felder. I had a blast!!