–By Sean Derrick
It was a Turn-back-the-clock kind of night Sunday at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Saint Louis as the iconic radio station KSHE 95 hosted a “Pig Roast” with rock legends REO Speedwagon and Styx.
KSHE, which is turning 50 this year (the longest running rock radio format station in the world), held the Pig Roast in honor of the event. For those that aren’t familiar with KSHE and why they hold a Pig Roast, their mascot is Sweet Meat, a pink pig, and is forever intertwined with the station.
REO Speedwagon is too. In fact, the band routinely credits the station as being the first station in the country to play an REO Speedwagon song.
The quintet from Champaign, IL has always been a popular draw in the Gateway city, and Sunday was no different. With a large crowd filed in opening acts Joe Dirt, Michael Stanley, and Don Felder kept the crowd entertained until Styx hit the stage for a strong set that included the songs “Gone, Gone, Gone”, “Radio Silence” and the instrumental “Khedive” from their just released CD The Mission, a concept album about a manned mission to Mars in 2033.
Listening to the album transported me back to the 70’s in its style and complexity. (FYI – Styx is selling a cool The Mission patch at its merch table at shows that I hope they make available online. But if you go to one of the shows you gotta check out the patch.)
Styx set was strong throughout the night. Guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw sounded great on vocals, as was keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan (Who shined brightest during his solo segment of “Khedive” and the covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and ‘Golden Slumbers” leading up to a powerful showing on “Come Sail Away”.
The rest of the band (guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young, bassist Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucherman) were spot on. The set was made more memorable with the appearance of original bassist Chuck Panozzo, who performs only select shows on the tour due to health reasons. Fans didn’t get to see him play at the Peabody Opera House in April 2016 so this was a nice surprise.
Much like Styx, REO Speedwagon’s set was spot on and high energy.
They stormed out to the raucous “Don’t Let Him Go”, a great opening number from a band with many options to choose from. They didn’t slow down as they roared right into “Keep Pushin'”.
Throughout the set lead singer Kevin Cronin’s voice was superb, highlighted by “Take It on the Run” and “Keep on Loving You”.
Cronin described how REO’s signature song “Golden Country” was written during the turmoil in America before the Watergate scandal, but its message was the same today as back then and called for unity and peace.
The crowd was amped up for the performance and it showed. By the time the band dedicated “Ridin’ the Storm Out” to their late former guitarist Gary Richrath the energy was at a crescendo.
After an encore of “Keep on Lovin’ You” and “Roll With the Changes” the fans were treated to a fireworks show.
It was my first time seeing REO Speedwagon live and from their performance at the KSHE Pig Roast, it won’t be the last.
Check out the gallery of photos from the night after the setlists.
REO Speedwagon Setlist:
Don’t Let Him Go
Can’t Fight This feeling
Whipping Boy (New song)
That Ain’t Love
Building the Bridge
Take It on the Run
Time For Me to Fly
Back on the Road Again
Ridin’ the Storm Out
Keep On Loving You
Roll With the Changes
Gone, Gone, Gone
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
The Grand Illusion
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Too Much Time on My Hands
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover, Lawrence Gowan solo)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles cover, Lawrence Gowan solo)
Come Sail Away
Rockin’ the Paradise