REO Speedwagon / Styx
w/ Special Guest Loverboy
Five Points Amphitheater – Irvine, CA
Saturday, July 16th, 2022
The perfect evening and venue for a Summer Concert. The only thing that had been keeping me from checking out Five Points Amphitheater previously was the distance. It’s a 2 hour drive on a good day and so any shows during the week are automatically nixed. However when the opportunity came to check out REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy on a Saturday evening, well I jumped at the opportunity. And I’m so glad I did. I will admit, that if just one of these bands had been playing I may not have made the trek, but all 3 together was just way too tempting.
“Unzoomed” and celebrating being able to tour again after a worldwide pandemic, these three iconic rock acts brought a mostly greatest hits package to Irvine. This turned out to be on of those “Oh Yeah…” evenings. And by that I mean the moment you hear a song you hadn’t heard in years and realize the band you’re seeing is the artist who recorded it.
First up were Special Guest, Loverboy who, rare for these days, are sporting an almost original lineup (minus Scott Smith who passed away in 2002). Joining Mike Reno (vocals), Paul Dean (guitar), Doug Johnson (keyboards) and Matt Frenette (drums) is newest member, bassist, Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve.
The Loveryboy set was short, but covered everything you’d have wanted to hear from the band including their biggest hits, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It“, set closer “Working For The Weekend” and “Oh Yeah…” “Turn Me Loose“.
The band sounded great and brought the already, almost filled amphitheater crowd to their feet several times.
Styx and REO have been swapping the closing position on the tour and tonight we got Styx in the second slot. I’ve seen Styx a bunch of times over the years and they never fail to impress. Styx were the exception tonight to the complete “Greatest Hits” set as they threw in a few songs from 2021’s “Crash Of The Crown” (Which btw is a really great album).
Even though a few people took time away from those songs to hit the restroom or grab a beverage, there were plenty of songs left in the set that kept the crowd on their feet. “The Grand Illusion, “Lady“, “Mr Roboto“.
Even with keyboardist/vocalist, Lawrence Gowan twirling around his revolving keyboard, it’s hard to argue that the ageless Tommy Shaw (guitar) is the real star of any Styx show. Running from side to side with an occasional jump into the air may make you forget that Tommy is pushing 70 years old (68)!
Tonight, Lawrence, Tommy, original guitarist James “JY” Young, Ricky Phillips (bass) and Todd Sucherman (drums) were joined (as occasionally happens on tour) by founding member Chuck Panozzo (cue crowd roar) who provided bass on “Fooling Yourself“, “Too Much Time On My Hands“, “Come Sail Away” and set closer and crowd sing-along song, “Renegade“.
Last time I saw tonight’s headliner, REO Speedwagon was 1995! They opened up for Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar and I remember the set being relatively underwhelming. Well a lot has changed in almost 2 decades (Not just with the band…but with me too) and I found myself thoroughly enjoying the entire set.
REO are another classic band with a solid, steady line up. Everybody of course knows singer, rhythm guitarist Kevin Cronin as the face of the band, but they still have original, founding member, Neal Doughty on keyboards. Bruce Hall on bass has been with them since 1977 and both guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt have been members since the late 80’s.
With today’s revolving doors, it was a breath of fresh air to see bands of this caliber and age maintaining their core members for such a long amount of time.
REO Speedwagon brought another Greatest Hits package of songs to Irvine kicking off with “Music Man” and going right into “Take It On The Run“. My “Oh Yeah…” moment for this set was when “Time For Me To Fly” started. Been a hot minute since I’ve heard that song and it turned into a great Summer evening sing along.
After “Ridin’ The Storm Out” Kevin told the crowd, “…we could go away and then come back (for an encore), but instead we’ll just keep playing”. And with that the band launched into their biggest hit, “Keep On Loving You” and set closer “Roll With The Changes“.
In reflection this was just a really great, feel-good show. It’s rare to get three bands where there’s barely a song that you haven’t heard or sang along to at some point in your life.
A few friends asked afterwards if it was worth grabbing a ticket to in their city. ABsoLUTELY! I guaranteed them they’d be leaving the venue with a huge grin.