REO Speedwagon & Styx take Irvine back in time
Writing about REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy are synonymous with a walk down memory lane to me. And, let me tell you, these three iconic vintage bands still got it going on! To see them in concert will definitely elevate your blood pressure! As I viewed the Live and Unzoomed Tour audience at the Fivepoint Amphitheater in Irvine, it came as no surprise that the fans cheered, sang-a-long and danced to every song.
REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy have been recording since the 1970s, so it’s of no surprise their fans are intergenerational… meaning different generations, such as parents and children intermingling or coming together for a show like this. Like many of you, my children’s favorite music is the same as mine and, we can all agree, the 80s was the decade with the best music EVER across all genres. The only difference being that in the 80s, we listened to music on a Sony Walkman cassette player.
First up this night in Irvine, “Turn Me Loose” on Loverboy! Never did I ever think in 2022 that Loverboy would be touring with REO Speedwagon and Styx… and sounding better than ever. “These Boys Are Hot Tonight” — as well as every night! The thing is, they are no longer boys; they are men that still know how to rock, and they are “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”.
Loverboy includes original members Mike “Reno” (vocalist), Paul Dean (guitarist), Doug Johnson (keyboards), Matt Frenette (drums) and Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve, who replaced the late Scott Smith (bass). For more than 40 years, Loverboy has been “Working for the Weekend”, which ironically includes most weekends. With their trademark red leather pants, bandannas, big rock sound and high-energy live shows, they rock all those 80s favorites you have in your memory.
Loverboy is the perfect band to kick the concert into high gear!
Watching Styx perform is like diving into an actual Hot Tub Time Machine. Speaking for all fans, what we admire about Styx is that they stay true to their unique style while also evolving musically and personally. Styx has three lead singers and for most bands, this would be very challenging; however, it works marvelously because they approach their music from the perspective of teamwork.
Styx’s methodology is brilliant; it is what has kept them relevant to many generations of loyal fans. The band members have evolved with the passing of time, but their exterior has not! I am not kidding! I am unsure of everyone’s exact age, but I can tell you they are hovering around the age of 70, with the looks and stamina of men in their early 50s. Tommy Shaw performed his memorable jump with guitar in hand several times… not an easy task, no matter what age you are. Lawrence Gowan’s performance enormously resonated with the audience, as his excitement triggered fans to get up and out of their seats. With Gowan bouncing around the stage and all the other guys rocking out, people sang and danced right along with them.
Styx’s music has stood the test of time, touched millions of people’s lives, earned them numerous awards and their exuberant performances show how much they love their fans. I cannot hold back: hellooooo, decision makers! It’s time for Styx and Loverboy to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! In fact, this oversight is critically past due. Today, Styx performs with the magical crew of James “JY” Young (lead vocals and guitars), Tommy Shaw (lead vocals and guitars), Todd Sucherman (drums and percussion), Lawrence Gowan (lead vocals and keyboards), Ricky Phillips (bass, guitar, vocals) and, of course, the extraordinary talented Chuck Panozzo (bass and vocals).
Besides a very full tour schedule Styx’s produced its 16th studio album, The Mission, on June 16th of 2017 and, while COVID was rampant in 2020, Styx returned to their studio to create their 17th album, Crash of the Crown, released on June 18th, 2021. On the band’s website, you can find “Styxworld” exclusives of each band member talking about the albums and how they came together to comprise what they consider to be one of their very best albums.
To end the perfect summer evening concert was REO Speedwagon.
REO Speedwagon formed in 1967, became signed in 1971 and has been fronted by the legendary lead vocalist Kevin Cronin since 1972. During this time, the band was persistent in their pursuit of stardom and were touring nonstop to gain the recognition that would bring them platinum albums and radio play time.
In 1980, REO Speedwagon exploded when they released the Hi Infidelity album, which introduced the hit singles “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It On The Run”. This landmark album remained at number one for 15 weeks and received the 10X Diamond Award for surpassing sales of 10 million units in the United States. From 1977 to 1989, the world “Could Not Fight” that REO Speedwagon feeling, as the band released nine more consecutive albums, all certified Platinum or higher. Today, REO Speedwagon — with Kevin Cronin (lead vocals), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards), Dave Amato (guitar) and Bryan Hitt (drums) — are still together touring worldwide. The band has sold more than 40 million albums around the globe and their fans will keep on loving them!
Photography by Stacey Shorr