REO Speedwagon and Styx "Live & UnZoomed" at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion
All photos also taken by Jessica McKeown
Vehicles and patrons gathered block after block in anticipation of a hot classic rock ticket at Freedom Mortgage Pavilion on August 13, 2022. Admission lines blended into a sea of band tees and happy chatter from everyone just happy to be together for a summer show this year. With the energy already positive and the drinks pouring before a single note played, everyone anticipated a great night ahead.
Despite having fewer hit songs than the co-headliners, the audience still buzzed through opening act Loverboy's entire performance. The band broke out their biggest hits "Working for the Weekend" and "Turn Me Loose" (as one would expect) and had the audience on their feet dancing and reminiscing. The fun the audience was having filled the air and set up great vibes for the rest of the night. Loverboy's musicianship was better than anticipated, and it was a pleasure catching their set.
REO Speedwagon has a career spanning 55 years, so there was curiosity about what songs could be on their set list. Of course they played huge hits like "Can't Fight This Feeling", "Take It on the Run", and "Keep On Loving You" among others; however, it was refreshing to also have a "deeper cut" in there such as "Like You Do". The order all of the tracks were placed in worked well in keeping everyone present and entertained.
Every member gave a powerful, energetic performance for the crowd. Kevin Cronan has a talent for making thousands in an amphitheater feel like he is performing just for them and making it an intimate, memorable experience. Dave Amato played some of the most emotive solos one could hear and executed them with skill and precision; he pulled everyone in with his playing just the same as Cronan does with his vocals. They are definitely a band worth catching more than once.
What isn't there to say about Styx after 50 years that no one else has said before? Their entire set was a breathtaking spectacle for all of the senses. The lighting throughout the set was impeccable and beautifully done. The stage had huge risers for the band members to alternate walking on and Lawrence Gowan's keyboard with a lit-up band logo on it; there was no small show surely, but all of them also had an innate ability to make everyone even in the lawn seats feel closer than they were for the show.
Even with James Young absent for this date, their musicianship was flawless. (It almost seemed like you were listening to a record if you closed your eyes to the show going on in front of you.) What was most enjoyable about their set was the dynamic all of the members had together. The joy that their faces alone expressed showed how well they all get along, and anyone close to the stage could see that. Despite all of their biggest hits being on the set list, the cover Gowan did of Elton John's "Rocket Man" was amazing performance-wise and also in the way it brought everyone in the amphitheater together in song even without him singing at all.
Like we said about REO Speedwagon - catch Styx more than once when they roll into your town.