Having an album stay on the top of the charts is no easy feat but to do it for fifteen weeks in itself is unheard of almost. That’s what REO Speedwagon’s best selling Hi Infidelity album did in 1981. You couldn’t turn on a radio anywhere without hearing “Take It On The Run” or “Keep On Loving You”. Fast forward to Tuesday evening as singer Kevin Cronin and REO Speedwagon played to an Artpark crowd of close to 10,000.
The band started off the show as it does on most occasions with the Hi Infidelity opener, “Don’t Let Him Go”. By the time Cronin started “Take It On The Run”, the audience was all in as they sang along enthusiastically.
In this reviewer’s opinion the highlight of the show came in the form of the next two songs. Up first the band played their song of hope and what quite possibly may have been the bands anthem as they pursued their dream of making it big in the form of “Keep Pushin’. As Cronin started his banter to introduce “Golden Country” he talked about how good it was to live in this country even with today’s current state of affairs. “Golden Country” is one of those gems that truly shines every time the band performs it.
Founding member, keyboardist/Hammond organist Neal Doughty has been in the band since day one and is the lone original member left. Drummer Bryan Hitt has solidified the position for over twenty years following original drummer Alan Gratzer’s departure and a brief stint by Graham Lear.
The band really showed off their playing prowess as they dug into a few rare tunes that seemed to leave half of the crowd perplexed. The diehards certainly enjoyed it all including an extended version of “Like You Do” that prominently featured guitarist Dave Amato, who seemed like he was thoroughly enjoying playing the 1972 classic. On “Son Of A Poor Man” Cronin began singing the first verse intentionally slower before the band kicked in and the song started back from the top.
The crowd seemed to revive as Cronin strummed the familiar chords of “Time For Me To Fly”. If that didn’t do it then unleashing their “secret weapon” bassist Bruce Hall certainly did. Hall took a turn behind the mic for what is his signature song “Back On The Road Again”, an album track that appeared on the 1979 release Nine Lives.
Closing out their performance with their #1 smash “Keep On Loving You” and “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, the band then pulled out “Gloria” a seldom played cover from the band Them.
The band showered the crowd with guitar picks and drum sticks as they took their final bows. It was evident how much they enjoy doing what they do. For that small ninety minute period of the day they are able to help people escape from whatever is going on in their lives. The band could have easily played just the hits but they realize there are many fans who were around from the start and it was good to see many songs from the early part of their career. Not many bands of their tenure cater to the fans much these days because most promoters seem to want bands to only play hits. It was good to see REO still rolling along without missing a beat.
Don’t Let Him Go
Take It On The Run
Can’t Fight This Feeling
That Ain’t Love
Like You Do
Son Of A Poor Man
Time For Me To Fly
Back On the Road Again
Roll With the Changes
Keep On Loving You
Ridin’ The Storm Out
Special thanks to Maria Hays for her help in setting us up to review the show