Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 19, 2013

Artpark REO Speedwagon show something special

Night & Day — If Tuesday’s REO concert was the first time you have seen the band live and wondered what all the fuss was about, well now you know. If you missed it, you missed something special.

REO dazzled a capacity crowd at Artpark with a high-energy set filled with all the classics, a few deep cuts for the diehard fans, and garage rock staple that ended the night with an exclamation point.

The show began shortly after 8 p.m. with “Don’t Let Him Go,” the opening cut from their breakthrough album “Hi Infidelity.” Singer Kevin Cronin’s voice has not lost any of its power, and from the outset it’s clear that the band still plays with the same conviction that established them as one of rock music’s greatest live bands.

One of the things that endeared me to REO at an early age was Kevin Cronin’s unique ability to pump up a crowd with his stories. On this night, Cronin had some fun picking on fellow mid-westerner Ted Nugent, who is sometimes tours with REO. Cronin noted that he and Ted “don’t always see eye-to-eye on things” and stated that Nugent introduces “Cat Scratch Fever” as the “greatest love song of all time.” (When Nugent performed on the same stage two years ago that is exactly how he introduced the song). Cronin then launched into what he called “the greatest love ballad of all time” “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

Cronin was also able to put a positive spin on one of the band’s earlier songs, “Golden Country,” a song written in protest of the Vietnam War. Like everything, the song’s meaning has evolved, and instead of using it as a platform for protest, Cronin used the song’s message as a positive statement that in the U.S and Canada, people have the freedom to speak their minds.

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