Styx, REO Speedwagon and Loverboy bring the heat to USANAJul 10, 2022 09:59AM ● By Tom Haraldsen
There’s a reason the rock music of the ‘70s still resonates today–-the sounds are unbelievably magical, resurrecting a time or place or relationship from the past. Fast forward 50 years to Saturday night’s triple-header of Styx, REO Speedwagon and Loverboy at USANA Amphitheatre, and for the 20,000+ in attendance at the latest Live Nation concert, the magic was back.
Loverboy opened the concert, presented by 103.5 The Arrow, with “Notorious” among its eight-song set. Vocalist Mike Reno, one of the four original band members still touring with the group, took control with his handheld mic, telling the audience “The [mic]stand is much too hot to handle.” On a sweltering but amazing summer night at USANA, his words were prophetic. Everything over the next four hours was super hot and sizzling.
Reno and his mates saved their biggest two hits for last, “Turn Me Loose” and “Working for the Weekend” which culminated their set, every one of them a Top 10 hit in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. “Turn Me Loose” was their first number-one hit.
After a short break, Styx took the stage. My first encounter with Styx was in 1972, when the newly-formed band played a concert at, believe it or not, Provo High School! Original member and lead guitarist Tommy Shaw, along with guitarist James Young, has been back to Utah many times since then (as has REO), and they jumped right in with an extended mix of “The Fight of our Lives,” “Blue Collar Man” and “The Grand Illusion.” Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, with his piano on a turntable (never seen one like that before), then took the band into the legendary “Lady,” the group’s first number-one single back in 1973.
Gowan, wearing a green tie and small hat to celebrate his Scottish heritage, conversed with the crowd, expressed the band’s appreciation for their Utah fan support, and added a sense of humor to the performance where every band member seemed to be having a great time. I have to mention the amazing contribution of drummer Todd Sucherman as well.
Styx co-founder Chuck Panozzo, who no longer performs regularly but did join the band for this tour, came on stage for “Fooling Yourself,” then helped out as Styx finished its first set with “Lost at Sea” and the ever-popular “Come Sail Away.” The audience quickly called for an encore, and Styx happily returned with “Mr. Roboto,” with Panozzo coming back for the finale, “Renegade.”
Styx and REO are touring this summer together and rotate which band plays first. It was REO concluding the shows this year. Five original band members are still playing, including lead singer Kevin Cronin, who turned 70 in October and sounded better than ever. Keyboardist Neal Doughty, bass player Bruce Hall, lead guitarist Dave Amato and drummer Bryan Hitt played a straight-through 13-song set, kicking it off with “Music Man” and “Take It On the Run.” Cronin also interacted with the appreciative Utah crowd, telling stories of many of the songs and how the group got together.
When “Can’t Fight This Feeling” played midway through the set, everyone in the audience seemed to share the feeling that rock music from as long as 50 years ago is here to stay.