BY PAM WHISENHUNT | Go Venue Magazine
It was a breath of old school 70s & 80s nostalgia this past Tuesday – May 10, 2022, at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, when Styx, REO Speedwagon and George Thorogood rolled through on the Live & Unzoomed Tour. The show was originally set for the Pinewood Bowl Theatre, but due to weather and grounds condition, it was moved to the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The show opened with a local Nebraskan duo, Tom & Wes. Tom Roth & Wes Stebbins played a simple, no frills acoustic set covering a variety of 70s favorites.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers kicked off the “Rock Party” playing a full set of Thorogood’s popular songs. There was strong crowd participation throughout. People were singing along to favorites like “I Drink Alone” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”. Thorogood had diehard fans on their feet dancing. His efforts to connect to the audience with local references were well received. He referred to Lincoln as a “best kept secret”.
The crowd, mostly seasoned rock and rollers, continued to stroll in. Almost everyone was settled by the time REO Speedwagon began, and it’s a good thing; they didn’t want to miss what was next. REO Speedwagon started with “Music Man” “Take It On the Run” and “Keep Pushin”. I found myself in full-on 80s sentimentality with “I Can’t Fight This Feeling”.
REO Speedwagon’s lead vocalist, Kevin Cronin announced he was 70 years old and acknowledged he doesn’t know it all, and he’s still learning. Cronin introduced his bandmates, but most notably keyboardist Neal Doughty. A founding member in 1967, Doughty has played on every REO Speedwagon album and performed at every show. An impressive stat by any means.
REO Speedwagon left the stage. People started leaving for intermission when moments later, the band came back for an encore. Something I’ve never experienced before (a non-headliner doing an encore). They wrapped up their set with “Keep On Loving You” and “Roll With The Changes”.
Styx kicked off their set with a new song “The Fight of Our Lives” and a classic “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)”. Styx played a mix of old songs including “Lady”, “Rocking the Paradise” and “Come Sail Away” mixed with music from their 2021 album Crash Of The Crown. Vocals from Lawrence Gowan (keyboardist) and Tommy Shaw (guitar) were controlled and melodic.
Gowan introduced the band members; Will Evankovich is the newest member on guitar. Ricky Phillips playing the five-string bass has been with the band for 20 years. Todd Sucherman, winner of nine Modern Drummer awards, has been drumming for Styx since 1995. Tommy Shaw on guitar with his “hair always in place”. Lastly, when Gowan recognized James Young (guitar) and Chuck Panozzo (bass) as founding members, they received resounding applause and a standing ovation.
Styx was entertaining. They effectively engaged the audience and played with the same energy they always have. They kept the light show classy and low-key; no pyrotechnics or strobe lights. Styx closed the show with the popular “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade”.
Veterans of Styx & REO Speedwagon shows were happy with the performance, and newbies like myself were impressed. Fans were delighted with the top tier production, enthusiastic atmosphere and premier sound. It’s no surprise why these bands are considered rock legends.
Styx and REO Speedwagon continue their tour throughout the summer with special guest Loverboy. You can find upcoming tour dates at styxworld.com.