Live and UnZoomed - Loverboy, REO Speedwagon & Styx

Blossom Music Theater, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 6.1.22

Severe storms were forecast to roll out of the midwest heading east throughout the afternoon and evening, making for a potentially bumpy trip from Pittsburgh to Ohio and back.  Pulling into the lot at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Mother Nature did not disappoint, as the skies were not just dark, they were menacing.  As I was a bit early, I sat in the car checking emails and came across a notice from Live Nation that doors would be delayed due to the weather.  Trapped in my car like everyone else that came to this show, I tried to entertain myself with the spotty cell and wifi connection, hoping a tornado wasn't going to drop from the sky and spin us all into Oz.  Roughly an hour later, long after the last update from Live Nation (I think the email finally gave out at some point), the sky started to lighten and people started to make their way toward the doors.  Figuring they might know more than me, I packed up, put on my rain coat and followed.  Sure enough, they were just getting ready to open doors, but I didn't even have time to get through security and assess the lines for drinks, merchandise and bathrooms before Loverboy had started their set.  Gotta try to make up that time somewhere!

This was night two of the Live and UnZoomed tour featuring Loverboy, REO Speedwagon and Styx.  All three bands are still fantastic and performing at the top of their game, it was really too bad that Loverboy had to start their set before many people even knew the doors had opened.  They also had to cut their set short (from eight songs to only five), which didn't do them justice.  Time can really take a toll on a singer's voice, but Mike Reno can still belt them out much like he did when I first saw them in the '80's.  He's really amazing, as are the rest of the band.  They gave us five of their biggest hits from the '80's, taking us on a much too brief trip back to the days of big hair, parachute pants and wine coolers.  Here's to hoping the next trip down memory lane can be a little longer.

After the fastest set change I have ever seen (kudos to all the stage hands), REO Speedwagon hit the stage.  Kevin Cronin is another one that still has a great voice and I can only hope I have so much energy at that age.  The band has this genuine joy and energy that's infectious and you can't help but have a good time right along with them.  They are celebrating the re-release of their 1996 album "Building the Bridge" which has been out of print for some time now.  It appears that their set list was the same as opening night of the tour, consisting of thirteen songs, though in the essence of time, there was no traditional encore.

Another rapid set change and REO's light towers became Styx's corrugated steel, evoking something industrial, possibly the inside of a cargo or transport ship used in outer space.  That's only fitting given the nature of many of their songs, and the idea is that we are all going on a musical journey.  The house is now packed, as is the lawn, despite the weather, and you can feel excitement in the crowd as the lights begin to dim.  A roar goes up as the band hits the stage, launching into "The Fight of Our Lives" from their new album "The Crash of the Crown".  This is another band with great longevity.  Guitarist Tommy Shaw still has great pipes and seems to never age.  Keyboardist Lawrence Gowan is an incredible showman and a pure joy to watch.  Bassist Ricky Phillips seemed to gel with the third guitarist they recently brought on, Will Evankovich and they both seemed to be having a blast.  Guitarist James JY Young was solid, as always and founding member Chuck Panozzo made an appearance for a couple of songs.  Almost hidden behind the rest of the band and his drum kit, Todd Sucherman kept the beat for us with impeccable skill.  Their set list, consisting mostly of hits with a few new songs thrown it, deviated slightly from opening night.  They even did "Mr. Roboto", something I've never seen live.  They also skipped the traditional encore due to time constraints.

On a personal level, there is absolutely nothing like being in the front row to see a show, especially a favorite band.  A venue like this with no barricade in front of the stage is a treat.  The fangirl in me was in heaven, but one moment was the absolute best.  Tommy Shaw has his side of the stage and he normally stays pretty close to his mic.  In all the shows I've been to, though he's a master at working the stage and striking a pose with various members of the band, I don't recall seeing him have a prolonged interaction with a fan.  I'm sure it happens, most musicians do it, but maybe Tommy doesn't do it as often as some.

Well, it happened last night, and I was the chosen one.  In the process of walking across the stage, he stopped right in front of me (cool), knelt down (really cool) and handed me a guitar pick (awesome!).  Then he gestured for me to strum his guitar (no way!).  Of course the normally unflappable me immediately turned into the 10 year old kid with a huge crush on the guitarist right in front of me.  I totally forgot the pick in my hand and strummed the guitar with my thumbnail (duh!).  He wanted me to try again and my senses started to return and I remembered what the thing in my hand was and how to use it, so I strummed the guitar with the pick.  Yay, I did it right!  I was still in awe, but laughing at myself and the 10 y.o. girl in me was very, very happy indeed.  



1.  The Kid is Hot Tonite

2.  Lovin' Every Minute of It

3.  Hot Girls in Love

4.  Turn Me Loose

5. Working for the Weekend

REO Speedwagon:

1.   Music Mag

2.   Take It On the Run

3.   Keep Pushin'

4.   Live Every Moment

5.   Tough Guys

6.   Can't Fight This Feeling

7.   Like You Do

8.   Don't Let Him Go

9.   Time For Me to Fly

10.  Back On the Road Again

11.  Ridin' the Storm Out

12.  Keep On Lovin' You

13.  Roll WIth the Changes


1.   The Fight of Our Lives

2.   Blue Collor Man

3.   The Grand Illusion

4.   Lady

5.   Crash of the Crown

6.   Light Up

7.   Rockin' the Paradise

8.   Foolin' Yourself

9.   Too Much Time On My Hands

10.  Khedive

11.  Lost at Sea

12.  Come Sail Away

13.  Mr. Roboto

14.  Renegade

< previous