REO-Styx-Loverboy Concert Review Ak-Chin Pavilion Phoenix AZ 07-20-22
The “Live and Unzoomed” tour featuring rock legends, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Loverboy, blew into the Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, AZ like a mid-summer thunderstorm that rolled across the desert with the extraordinary power of music. The “Unzoomed” tour landed in Phoenix during the AZ monsoon season with the three bands bringing their thunderous power that flooded the audience with incredible memories, great music, new and old music; as well as a brilliant night of rock & roll fun.
Canadian rockers, Loverboy rocked the Ak-Chin Pavilion with a set of one great classic song after another that was culled from five of their seven LPs. The band hit the ground running opening up their show with their rocker, “Notorious” from their highly acclaimed 1987 LP, Wildside. Their high energy set of songs are true classics that really helped to define the music of the MTV music video hay days. These guys were one of the #1 bands to rule the MTV airwaves in the MTV channel’s early days with videos like “Working for the Weekend” and “Hot Girls in Love.” Even when you heard a song from another band like the “Dire Straights” hit “Money For Nothing” with it’s falsetto vocal beginning by “Sting” with the words “I Want My MTV” , Loverboy is one of the first bands that would come to mind! The Loverboy cast on stage this night were all the band’s original members with the exception of bassist Scott Smith whom we sadly lost in 2000; Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve has been the band’s bassist since 2001. The opening bass line for “Turn Me Loose” had everyone immediately on their feet and singing along with the band and it sounded as good as back in the day. These guys put on a great show with some of the best music to come out of the 80’s. Get out and see these guys, especially if you grew up on this music; you’ll be glad you did!
Loverboy Ak-Chin Set List Was:
Styx opened their show with all the grandeur that the Styx brand is so well known for.
Styx opened the show with “The Fight of Our Lives” a song from their latest release, Crash of the Crown LP; a song that encompasses all the amazing Styx multi vocal harmonies with a production that rocked the venue with all it’s grandeur, and mesmerized the Ak-Chin from the front row to the back of the lawn. The band set a precedence from the start and made sure the entire audience knew this was a rock show first and foremost, and the band was here to give the fans an in-your-face kick-ass rock concert! So, for anyone who might have thought that Styx only had a long list of classic hits to offer; they would be dead wrong! These guys are blazing a new trail of great rock songs for every fan; past and present, The band featured four new songs in their set from their latest LP, the new songs were; “The Fight of Our Lives”, “Crash of the Crown”, “Sound the Alarm” and “Lost at Sea.” Styx definitely gave the fans a full dose of their greatest songs, many of which helped to pioneer the power rock and progressive rock genres. To that end, their second song was the power rocker, “Blue Collar Man” with Tommy Shaw out front belting out some really amazing vocals and playing all those classic and singable guitar solo lines. Shaw’s finale performance to the song was in true Rockstar fashion that included him leaping into the air with guitar in hand that lead to the song’s final conclusion with his return to solid ground; that’s what rock shows are made of!
Next up was the title track from their 1977 release, The Grand Illusion with keyboardist Lawrence Gowan singing the Dennis De Young parts to perfection, not to mention all those great keyboard parts. During the 1/2 time solo section in the song, there are two different and equally brilliant guitar solos, with Tommy Shaw ripping into the first solo that was bathing in wha wha madness. James Young took on the second guitar solo that was a display of some badass note bending that lead up to the signature marching style section that is a theme throughout the song. It must also be noted that the addition of guitarist and Styx producer Will Evonkovich helped to augment the band’s sound with drummer Todd Sucherman masterfully reproducing all the challenging original parts by John Panozzo, and of course also added his signature blend of flowing and blistering chops. The title track from their latest LP Crash of the Crown is an ambitious piece of music; with the song’s many time signature changes of 5/4, 4/4 and 6/8, killer grooves and extremely impressive vocals made this another highlight of the night; especially live. The whole band’s performance was so incredibly spot on and sounding so damn good; they’re like a vintage bottle of fine wine that only gets better with age!
For the introduction of the song “Fooling Yourself” Tommy Shaw revealed the story of two budding musicians from Chicago practicing in their basement:
“The Panozzo brothers Chuck on bass and John on drums, who started a band, and with the inception of guitarist James Young; Styx was born. Tonight, Chuck Panozzo is here in Phoenix tonight, let’s welcome to the stage Chuckie Panozzo! ”
Chuck Panozzo played on a few songs throughout their set alongside their current regular bassist Ricky Phillips who is known for his work with The Babys and Page/Coverdale to name few. For the next song “Too Much Time On My Hands”, Tommy Shaw told of a time when he was on his way from Niles, Michigan to Gary, Indiana for the last day of the Paradise Theater LP writing session and had a new song idea that was playing over and over in his head, as if it was playing on a juke box. This was also a time before cell phones and other such means of recording or jotting down one’s thoughts ever existed. So, as soon as he got to the studio, he verbalized the bass line that was in his head to C. Panozzo and so; “Too Much Time On My Hands” was written; which also premiered in the first hour that MTV came on the air for the first time – pretty damn amazing indeed!
Lawrence Gowan indulged the audience with a beautiful rendition of the piano masterpiece “Khedive” all the time with his back to the audience, presumably so we could all see him in action on the keys better. The second to the last song of their regular set was “Lost at Sea” which is a short nautical prelude to their classic “Come Sail Away”. “Lost at Sea” was presented as somewhat of a duet with Lawrence Gowan on keys and vocals and Chuck Panozzo on bass. Panozzo’s bass sounds that accompanied Gowan’s piano parts were simply the sound of a fog horn with his bass; very entertaining indeed. The last song of the regular set was the timeless classic “Come Sail Away” with C. Panozzo joining in on bass; and this song had the entire venue, standing, singing and dancing; which was a was truly magical sight and feeling. Styx presented their encore with two songs that were almost polar opposites musically and yet were two of their greatest classics. First came the techno and dance/rock style of “Mr. Roboto” that was followed by the hard rockin’ “Renegade” from their 1978 release Pieces of Eiight; an LP that went on to triple platinum status, thanks to the success of the two rockin’ songs penned by Shaw; “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade.” Tommy Shaw started the rebellious “Renegade” by singing the signature a capella beginning which was really impressive and lead in to the whole band kicking in for one hell of a kick ass end to a seriously rockin’ show.
Styx are a band who have written some of the most iconic music in modern rock history and who continue to blaze their trail on the rock and roll roadway with new music that’s on par if not better than many of their classics.
Get the new Crash of the Crown LP Here!
The Styx Ak-Chin set list was:
REO Speedwagon brought the big rock show to the Ak-Chin Pavilion with a set of classic songs that rocked the venue
REO hit the stage and launched into their set with the driving rocker, “Don’t Let Him Go” from their smash 1980 hit LP, Hi Infidelity; an LP that was the biggest selling LP in 1981 and eventually went on to become certified, 10 times platinum! The song’s feedback beginning resonated throughout the venue, as the rumbling undercurrent of the song’s pounding tom tom rhythms were hammered out by drummer Bryan Hitt. Singer and rhythm guitarist Kevin Cronin, grabbed the mic and in one fell swoop, started belting out the lyrics to “Don’t Let Him Go” with his iconic voice on this track that rained all over the radio airwaves throughout the 1980’s.
Staying with the Hi Infidelity LP, the second song was “Take it on the Run”, which was another brilliant track from that LP that immediately had everyone in the entire venue singing from the sound of the song’s first chords.
For the third song of the set, “Keep Pushing On”, singer Kevin Cronin started running and prancing around on stage while playing rhythm guitar like a man half his age until he landed center stage to command the mic to belt out this classic rocker.
Cronin introduced the song “Live Every Moment” with a monologue about the fact that he is now 70 years of age and that he thought that he should have a pretty good idea what’s going on around him but with everything that’s going on in the world today, he said; it turns out, I don’t know shit! He followed that up with; the past is the past and you’ve got to keep on moving on and “Live Every Moment”! “Tough Guys” is another fan favorite and featured another fine solo by guitarist Dave Amato. Cronin at one point talked about how he starts to write a song which is usually on an acoustic guitar and occasionally on the keyboards. He went on to say that since he doesn’t know to properly play the keyboards, he turns to one of the founding members of the band for help who has played on every REO LP and played at every REO show for the last 55 years, keyboardist Neal Doughty.
REO continued with their amazing string of hit songs including “Can’t fight this feeling, “Time for Me to Fly”,”Like you do” and “Back on the Road Again.” REO finished their set with “Ridin’ the Storm Out”, “Keep On Loving You”, and the 1978 classic “Roll with the Changes.” The latter song was off the REO Classic LP You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tune a Fish which was also their first LP to chart in the Top 40.
This REO/Styx/Loverboy tour is a larger than life rock and roll show; and for many who attended – it was a concert that took them down a road of many great memories and then added a new memory from this night of all this fantastic music with this awesome show by some truly great and legendary musicians.
Get into REO Speedwagon Here!
The REO Speedwagon Ak-Chin set list was: