Midwest Rock N’ Roll Express Chugs Through Big Flats

Concert Review
REO Speedwagon
Ted Nugent
Tags Summer Stage
Big Flats, NY
July 6, 2012
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto

The Midwest Rock N Roll Express tour featuring Styx, REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent stopped off in Big Flats, NY Friday evening. When it comes to tours like this, you know two things, one that you will get value for your money and second that you will get a show packed with hits. The cool thing is all the camaraderie between the three bands and the friendly competition between them making it a win-win for the fans.

Up first oddly enough was the motor city madman himself Ted Nugent. It was a bit strange seeing Uncle Ted going on while the sun was still out but he delivered his usual blend of music and social commentary. This year’s lineup features “Wild” Mick Brown on drums, Greg Smith on bass guitar and once again vocalist and rhythm guitarist Derek St. Holmes. Ted didn’t mince any words as he said a few words regarding our current government in office. Songs that stood out were a blazing “Free For All” as well as “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stranglehold” all drawing a huge response from the rowdy Big Flats crowd.

Up next was REO Speedwagon, a band that was formed in Champaign, IL by keyboardist Neal Doughty, who is the sole founding member remaining. Despite that fact, this lineup of REO has been together now for 22 years. Drummer Bryan Hitt and guitarist Dave Amato are the newest members to join as they did so back in 1990. Singer Kevin Cronin still sounds as good as he did all those years ago. Opening with their longtime classic opener “Don’t Let Him Go” the band actually played some of their more rare tunes like the lost gem “Golden Country”, which sounded fabulous. The band also dipped into their 1972 album R.E.O./T.W.O. for “Like You Do”. The band brought out the heavy artillery in the form of their secret weapon bassist Bruce Hall as he stepped up to the microphone for his customary lead vocal on “Back On The Road Again”. The band came back for an encore of their biggest hit “Keep On Loving You” before ending with closer “Ridin’ The Storm Out”.

Closing out the show on this night was that little ol’ band from Chicago, Styx. The band is led these days by guitarists, Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young. Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan has been in the band since 1999 and has been a solid performer along with bassist Ricky Phillips. When Styx needed to find a new drummer, Todd Sucherman stepped right in and hasn’t missed a beat since. Sucherman was also the innovator of incorporating the 18 song Styx medley the band used to play live a few years back.

Styx opened with Shaw’s “Blue Collar Man” and proceeded to play their usual grab bag of hits. They reached as far back as their Styx ll album for “Lady”, the hit that started it all rolling for the band. Young took his first turn at the mike for “Lorelei”, a song that he did not originally sing on but has since inherited. Shaw stated how AOR stations used to play the whole album instead of select songs as he introduced the rarest Styx nugget of the evening, “Man Of The Wilderness” from 1977s The Grand Illusion. Of the highlights of Styx’ set, “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) was head and tails above the rest on this night. It was also during this song that original bassist and founding member Chuck Panozzo was brought out for the first time of the evening. Chuck usually comes out and plays a handful of songs each night when he is out on tour with Styx. The band closed out their show with “Rockin’ The Paradise” followed by the traditional ending song “Renegade”.

This tour was a great idea as you could have taken any of the bands and they could have been placed in any slot. This was the first tour to reunite former Damn Yankees members Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent. Too bad they couldn’t get together at some point during the show and play “High Enough” to give the fans a taste of the American hard rock supergroup that last toured together almost two decades ago.

Ted Nugent
Wango Tango
Just What The Doctor Ordered
Free For All
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
I Can’t Quit You Babe
Hey Baby
Cat Scratch Fever

REO Speedwagon
Don’t Let Him Go
Take It On The Run
Keep Pushin’
Golden Country
Can’t Fight This Feeling
That Ain’t Love
Like You Do
Time For Me To Fly
Back On The Road Again
Roll With The Changes
Keep On Loving You
Ridin’ The Storm Out

Blue Collar Man
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time On My Hands
Man In The Wilderness
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Miss America
A.D. 1928 > Lawrence Gowen’s classic rock medley singalong
Come Sail Away
Rockin’ the Paradise

Special Thanks to Amanda Cagan for all her assistance in allowing us to review the show

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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