05 August 2018 (gig)
13 August 2018
While of the summer of 2018 (which is the concert industries busiest time) is flying by, it’s sad that many of the great tours that barraged that warm months, will be winding down in just a few weeks.
Though the summer is not quite over yet, two powerhouses of FM (and AM) radio of the 1970s and 1980s, Chicago and REO Speedwagon, paired up this summer for 34 date co-headline North American tour, which evoked musical memories and a legacy that (in Chicagos case) stretches back nearly 50 years. The Chicago and REO Speedwagon double bill performed live at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts on August 5, 2018.
REO Speedwagon, who has been a tireless tour workhorse for years, still includes original members Kevin Cronin (lead singer/guitarist) and Neal Doughty (keyboards), alongside longtime band mates Bruce Hall (bass/vocals), Dave Amato (lead guitar/vocals), and Bryan Hitt (drums). Opening with a duo from the bands mega successful 1980 "Hi Infidelity" record; "Don't Let Him Go" and "In Your Letter" gave way to 1976's motivational ditty, "Keep Pushin'." The groups’ most successful tune, "Can't Fight This Feeling," still evokes youthful indecision and complications of romance, and maintains its charm 33 years after its release (and the songs inclusion in as part of a Sheba Cat Food commercial, certainly brought new ears to the song).
Convivial takes of "Tough Guys" and "Take It on the Run" (again revisiting, "Hi Fidelity") were pleasing, but "Back on the Road Again," "Time for Me to Fly" and the epic set closing "Riding The Storm Out" - were great reminders of the bands harder-edged 70s days.
A three song encore of “Keep On Loving You,” and “Roll With the Changes” was capped by a touching tribute to the late Tom Petty, as REO Speedwagon did a glistening cover of Pettys, “Listen to Her Heart.”
Chicago is currently revisiting and playing their sophomore effort, "Chicago" (also referred to as, "Chicago II") in its entirety and opened with the 7 song-suite, "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon," which included recreations of classics as "Make Me Smile," "Colour My World," which were originally voiced by the late Terry Kath (whose untimely passing was actually 40 years ago this past January). Chicago is presently touring with three original members; Robert Lamm (vocalist/keyboard), Lee Loughnane (backing vocals/trumpet), and James Pankow (trombone). Singer Neil Donell, who joined Chicago this year, fills in as lead vocalist for the tracks organically voiced by former Chicago member, Peter Cetera. After ending the "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" song cycle with, "Now More Than Ever," the group continued with the rest of the album (and while played in its entirety, the order of songs live differed from the original record). Standouts from this 9 song set included an achingly sweet, "In the Country,” the dirge filled "Memories of Love," a passion filled "Where Do We Go From Here," and ended with the raucous, "25 or 6 to 4."
With the album performance now history, the band resurrected a salvo of classic moments. Lamm shined on "Beginnings" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" In between the expected hits, was a funky cover of “Street Player" (originally done by Rufus, "Street Player" was also on the bands "Chicago 13" record in 1979).
After a cover of Spencer Davis Groups "I'm a Man," Chicago ended the night with a patch of iconic hits; “Just You 'n' Me,” “Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away,” “Saturday in the Park,” before closing out eloquently with, “Feelin' Stronger Every Day,’ which ended an entertaining night of both experimentation and nostalgia.