Night Ranger Provides Music Therapy at New York City Show

NR -BBSOk, I’ll admit it. The last time I saw a full Night Ranger headlining set was back in 1985 when the band was touring on the success of its third album, “Seven Wishes”  — Does anyone else remember bassist/vocalist Jack Blades rising out of the genie lamp to begin the night’s festivities?

Although I’ve seen Night Ranger many more times over the years, its always been when they were teamed up on a bill with two or three other bands. And for as much as I will always love hearing their biggest hits, I lamented never having the opportunity to hear some of the earlier material that always appealed to me. Album cuts that never quite made it mainstream. But Night Ranger’s performance last night at BB King Blues Club in New York City was a trip through three decades of rock and for me personally, some much needed therapy.

Opening the set was the fitting “Touch of Madness” – a single from the band’s monster album “Midnight Madness”. Next, the band immediately took us thirty years into the future. Performing “St. Bartholomew” (from the band’s brand new album “High Road”) for the very first time live. Blades would go on to joke about “sneaking” that one into the set, but the fans enthusiastic response indicated they knew otherwise.

From there, Night Ranger took us on a whirlwind journey through time and quite a bit of their early catalog. Performing nearly half of the “Dawn Patrol”, “Midnight Madness” and “Seven Wishes” albums as well as tracks from Blade’s days with Damn Yankees.

The band also brought us forward into the new millennium with “Lay It On Me” from 2011’s “Somewhere in California” as well as the title cut of their current album, “High Road”.

There was no doubt that the band would also include their biggest hits in their New York City set and the songs “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”, “Sister Christian” and “When You Close Your Eyes” were met with equal adulation.

Night Ranger (BB Kings New York City)

Night Ranger (BB Kings New York City)

Bassist/Vocalist Jack Blades is the quintessential showman. Whether he’s introducing a new song or asking the audience if they’d like to come out on the road with the band, Blades is in his comfort zone when he’s out front.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better drummer/vocalist combination in music than Kelly Keagy. Seeing him hit the high notes for “Sentimental Street” or “Sing Me Away” while continuing to keep an infectious beat is still mind boggling.

Keyboardist Eric Levy was absolutely brilliant in staying true to the band’s classic sound and has become a staple of Night Ranger.

Guitarists Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra (a New York City native) are a force to be reckoned with. The duo trade off guitar leads with ease and perfection. Gillis laying down the most flawless, tasty licks while Hoekstra literally felt right at home. Firing up the crowd with his own guitar prowess and the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. He was glad to be there, and so was I.

Night Ranger

I’ve been a Night Ranger fan since the band’s early days and can still recall the first time I heard “You Can Still (Rock In America) on my neighbor’s cassette recorder. For me, it was a game changing moment.

Much the same as last night’s show at BB King’s.

Night Ranger Set List (BB King Blues Club NYC)

Touch of Madness
St. Bartholomew (Live Debut)
Four in the Morning
Lay It On Me
Coming of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
Sentimental Street
Seven Wishes
Sing Me Away
High Road
Night Ranger
High Enough (Damn Yankees cover)
Goodbye
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me

Encore:

Penny
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock in America

 

Guitar World: Ted Nugent Discusses New Album ‘Shut Up & Jam!’ and His Kamp for Kids

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

Cute?

One could certainly find better adjectives to describe Shut Up & Jam!, Ted Nugent’s first studio album in seven years.

But that’s exactly how the Motor City Madman himself would describe this new collection of blues-inspired songs. Say what you will about his choice of words; it’s safe to say Nugent and his insatiable appetite for honky-tonk bastardization has never sounded better.

In addition to the tasty guitar work you’d expect from a Nugent album, highlights from Shut Up & Jam! include guest vocalist Sammy Hagar performing on the track “She’s Gone” and Nugent’s longtime musical cohort, Derek St. Holmes, showcasing his own soulful vocals on “Everything Matters.”

The release of Shut Up & Jam! will coincide with another summer tour, during which Nugent will be — once again — joined by Holmes plus Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums).

I recently spoke with Nugent about Shut Up & Jam!, his Gibson Byrdland and his Kamp For Kids, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

GUITAR WORLD: The music industry has changed so much in the last seven years. What made you decide to release a new studio album?

I’m such a lucky guy, having been 100 percent in charge of my life since I was a teenager. My outdoor lifestyle so cleanses, fortifies me and inspires me that whenever I pick up the guitar, fire comes off of the neck and those killer, grinding grooves happen all the time. Because I’m so involved with so many different aspects of my life and tour like an animal every summer, I just didn’t put the logistics together to record these new songs. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. These songs have a fire in them, and I had to capture them.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Ted Nugent by Clicking Here!

‘High Priestess’: Vocalist Kobra Paige Talks New Kobra And The Lotus Album

High PriestessHard rock and metal fans around the world will find comfort in Kobra And The Lotus’ new album “High Priestess” – and for good reason. Produced by the Grammy-nominated Johnny K (Megadeth, Disturbed, Three Doors Down), “High Priestess” continues to build on the success of the band’s self-titled last album while showcasing a higher level of musical maturity.

But “High Priestess” is not your typical rock album. It’s the combination of hard rock/heavy metal sound combined with classically-trained Kobra Paige’s wailing vocals and hook-laden melodic riffs that makes it so special. Songs like “Willow” and the haunting track “Soldier” showcase Paige’s lyrical vision. Painting a visual landscape of texture that enhances the mood of each track. The result is an insanely good combination of songs that stand out well on their own, yet fit together nicely with each other in terms of style.

Kobra And The Lotus is currently out on the road supporting the monstrous KISS and Def Leppard summer tour. I spoke with Paige about the new album, touring and how a Judas Priest show changed her life forever.

What’s it like touring with KISS and Def Leppard?

Amazing. It’s such a huge honor and so much fun to be a part of.  Every day I go down to the stage when we’re setting up and can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s a surreal experience.

What was it like working with Johnny K on “High Priestess”?

Johnny is the most inspiring producer. Every day he was ready to create and work with us. He really challenged us to think of things in a different way. It really helps when you’re around someone who is equally excited about what they do. He’s so passionate about what he’s doing and was very invested both emotionally and mentally.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album. “I Am, I Am”.

I actually wrote that song a few years ago, back when we were working on the last album. I remember I came in with it and Johnny put the verse riff in and switched it around a little bit. It has kind of an old school sound and is about being who you are. Either you’re being the seed of destruction or the birth of creation. It’s your choice.

Soldier

“Soldier” is a tribute to our soldiers and is meant to tug on people’s heart strings a bit – especially with the video. It’s to hopefully bring some perspective that this kind of thing is still going on and there are families out there that are affected by it. It’s to remind people that we’re living a very free life, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?

I draw from so many places. I write little notes and ideas down all the time, so there are a lot of different influences on this album. Sometimes when the guys bring me riffs it will actually sound like something physical to me. When I heard the music for “Willow” it actually “sounded” like the story of Bushido to me. Music is not just sonic – it’s something that’s very visual inside of my head. I don’t just hear it, I see it.

When did you know that music was going to be your calling?

I was doing classical training when I was growing up, so I always thought music would be my future. Then I went to a Judas Priest concert and it changed my life. That’s what got me into choosing a “harder” route so to speak.

What excited you the most about the Priest show?

It was a combination of everything. The energy, the eruption of the crowd. The way [Rob] Halford was stomping around and wailing away. I immediately knew there was a place for me – and it didn’t have to be opera. I was taken by all of it and knew right away that it was something I had to be a part of it.

Kobra Paige (Photo: Tessa Quinn)

Kobra Paige (Photo: Tessa Quinn)

How did the band get its start?

When I was 17, I saw an ad in the classifieds from two guys who were looking for a drummer. They had listed their influences which included bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Skid Row. I loved the list that they had so I emailed them saying that even though I didn’t play drums I’d love to come over and sing. They invited me over and we played “Aces High” [Iron Maiden] and that was it. From then on, it was no covers – just writing. We started making music together.

Did you ever find it challenging being a female singer fronting a “metal” band?

It can be challenging at times. In the beginning, I remember having battles with myself trying to figure out if I needed to be more aggressive or classy. In the end, I realized that I just have to be authentic and stay true to myself.

What excites you the most about “High Priestess”?

We had a great time creating it. This album was a little more exotic in some ways and there’s a lot of versatility on it. I’m really enjoying performing it live as well. We’ve been touring a lot these past few years so it’s nice to be able to do a new expression of ourselves.

Shut Up & Jam!: Ted Nugent Talks New Album, Politics

Nugent1Say what you will about his politics, but there’s no denying the fact that Ted Nugent has firmly solidified his place in the annals of music history. Bastardizing the honky tonk from his stints with the Amboy Dukes and Damn Yankees to his hugely successful solo career, the Motor City Madman has performed well more than 6,500 shows over the course of his career – including a recent performance at Sweden Rock Festival in front of 40,000 rock hungry fans.

Whether it’s his music or his politics, Nugent does things on his own terms, and certainly isn’t afraid to tell you how he really feels.

Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why Nugent’s first studio album in seven years, “Shut Up & Jam!” (releasing July 8th) is so powerful. Relishing his spot in the eye of the storm and being on the front lines of the culture war and scourge of political correctness and denial, Nugent once again channels the blues masters that inspired his own guitar prowess while continuing to wave the flag for a love of God and country.

I spoke with Nugent about “Shut Up & Jam!” as well as got his take on the current State of the Union.

It’s been seven years since “Love Grenade”. What was the decision behind releasing a new studio album?

It wasn’t really a decision. The fact is, I’m so involved with so many different aspects of my life and tour like an animal every summer that I just didn’t put the logistics together to record this material. A lot of the songs on “Shut Up & Jam!” are actually a few years old. I’ve been messing around with “Do-Rags and a .45” for at least ten years. “I Still Believe” and “Never Stop Believing” are at least seven years old. “I Love My Bbq” and “Semper Fi” I’ve been working with for a few years. But there are a few new songs on the album. “Fear Itself” is a brand new song and “Everything Matters” is a song that was written at the beginning of this year. These songs all have a fire in them and I finally couldn’t wait any longer. I knew now was the right time to capture them.

What’s the secret to your killer guitar riffs?

It all goes back to the Amboy Dukes and even the Damn Yankees and Ted Nugent band. If you ask any of the guys they’ll tell you. Whenever I pick up my guitar really fun, garage band variations of what Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and the original Boogie-Woogie, Honky Tonk guys did comes out – and this album reeks of that! You really feel that original rhythm and blues structure and pulse in a lot of these songs because those original black artists all inspired me with their work ethic and musical prowess.

Is it ok if we talk a little politics?

Absolutely! But first, let me make something perfectly clear. I am really let down by my fellow Americans who avoid politics or whine “Ah! Stop being so political!” Let me explain what politics are to those who haven’t been educated by our failed education system.

“Politics” in America are the responsibility of “We the People” to remain engaged and a force to reckon with as we direct and demand accountability from our PAID elected officials to adhere to their oath to the U.S. Constitution. “We the People” is not a selective, segregated vision. “We the People” is supposed to be every American who cherishes, values, respects and earns this unique freedom by actually participating in an experiment in self-government. All of us have a moral, intellectual and spiritual obligation to remain in touch with our elected officials.

The fact that Barack Obama, Eric Holder, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi all hold the most powerful positions in the world is insanity. These are strange creatures that are attempting to fundamentally transform America into a SHIT HOLE! But I (as a “We the People” participant) will not let them do it without warrior-like resistance. I am a political animal because an American is supposed to be one. People who avoid politics are avoiding their duty and responsibility as a good American to demand accountability from our employees in elected office.

If you had Obama, Clinton and Holder all in the same room with you, what would be the first thing you would do?

I’d probably pace back and forth and then start off by saying “What in God’s name are you people doing? Why are you lying?” Then I would play them tapes of all of their lies and show them the historical evidence that shows how their fundamental transformation vision has destroyed every society it has touched.

The statistics are irrefutable and inescapable. Whenever liberal democrats run things, it’s a WRECK! It’s like their dream of having a gun-free zone – it already exists! It’s Chicago. And since you and I have gotten on the phone James, twenty people have been shot! Why would you want more of that?

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

Ted Nugent (Photo by Stefan Johansson)

What are your thoughts about what’s going on in Iraq right now?

It’s a perfect example of what I’ve just outlined. The insane community organizer rules of engagement. The fact is, the Middle East is a series of training areas for people who want to pull off another 9/11. You don’t reasonably secure the nucleus of terrorist training and then just leave. You don’t abandon them and let them use all of our equipment and have it eventually find its way into the hands of the enemy. Why do you think there are still American forces in Germany and Japan? Because the Japanese empire and the Nazi’s were PURE EVIL! We’re there to keep our eyes on them, and if we ever see any more of that Japanese empire or Nazi bullshit – we will nip it in the bud. But we didn’t do that in Iraq? That’s insanity!

Do you think something like term limits for all members of Congress would help?

In a world with this course of apathy and where people are not paying attention term limits is a good idea. But that’s not going for the real cause. That’s going for one of the effects. The real cause is that “We the People” don’t monitor the activities of our elected officials. My problem with term limits is that if citizens really monitored their congressmen properly, they would know if he’s not doing a good job or less than a good job. And if he’s not doing a good job you don’t need term limits – you vote him OUT!

But what if he’s doing a great job and he’s steam rolling the status quo? What if he IS getting accountability and IS cutting the waste, corruption and fraud? Well then you don’t want to term limit him out – you want to keep him IN! I think term limits are an escape hatch for a nation of wimps. If we can’t monitor them like we’re supposed to, it’s counter-productive.

Do you think there’s hope for America?

Absolutely. I travel and hang out with people everywhere. I don’t just rock and roll and then order room service. I’m on the phone with people and meet with working class people and community leaders and get a pulse of every city I’m in. I meet with these people and hear what they’ve witnessed and what they believe and I know that they’re getting fed up. I think we can take this country back and stop the hemorrhaging debt atrocity and teach people to instead being blood-suckers waiting for a hand out to be productive. I really do believe that.

Shut Up & Jam! will be released July 8th

For more on Ted Nugent: www.tednugent.com

You can also read Nugent’s articles on WND and Newsmax

 

 

 

Future’s Past: Dave Mason Talks Recording with Jimi Hendrix, New Album and More

DaveMasonGuitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason was a founding member of Traffic (along with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood). He’s also recorded and/or toured with the likes of George Harrison, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson.

Then there’s also the little matter of his historic performance on Jimi Hendrix’s iconic version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

Mason’s new album, Future’s Past, pays homage to those early years by featuring new versions of songs from his Traffic days and solo career, including new interpretations of “As Sad and Deep As You” and “World In Changes.” Rounding out the nine-track album is a new song, “That’s Freedom.”

Mason is on the road with the Traffic Jam Tour, which pays tribute to his former band and his solo years. I recently spoke with Mason about Future’s Past, his days with Traffic and his experience with Hendrix.

GUITAR WORLD: How did the Future’s Past project begin?

There wasn’t really a plan. I have a huge collection of material I’ve recorded over the last few years. Some of the songs applied to my Traffic Jam show (“Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “You Can All Join In.”) Then I had “World in Changes,” which was from my Alone Together album but sounds absolutely nothing like the original. My original intent was to use these tracks for an EP of about four songs, but since I also had a few other tracks and everything sounded so good, I decided to just put them all on there. The thing I like is that the album doesn’t sound dated. It all sounds fresh and new.

One of the highlights on the record is the version of “As Sad and Deep As You.”

That’s basically a live cut. It has such a strong emotion and mood. To me, it’s better than the original. That’s why it’s on there.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Dave Mason by Clicking Here!

Roll with the Changes: Dave Amato Talks Guitars and 25 Years with REO Speedwagon

Since REO Speedwagon’s arrival on the scene 40-plus years ago, the band has seen a lot of musical changes. Touring relentlessly through the Midwest in the 1970s, they finally broke through, scoring a pair of No. 1 hits in the 1980s. They also had the bestselling rock album of 1981, Hi Infidelity.

REO Speedwagon (Photo: Lisa Cuvo)

REO Speedwagon (Photo: Lisa Cuvo)

Some might even say they were the originators of the term “power ballad.”

And although the band also has gone through a few personnel changes over the years, they never cease to bring their lineup of hits to eager fans every year.

The band, which includes Kevin Cronin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (guitars), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums), performed 96 shows last year and are on pace to do an equal amount in 2014, including a summer co-headlining tour with Chicago.

I caught up with Amato, who recently celebrated 25 years with REO Speedwagon. I asked him to reflect on his career with REO and his affection for guitars and vintage gear. He also told me about an important lesson he learned from his early years working with Ted Nugent.

GUITAR WORLD: Twenty-five years with REO Speedwagon. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about that?

I think brothers. We’ve been together for 25 years, and these guys are my friends and my brothers. It’s great playing with them every night.

Can you tell me the story of how you joined the band?

My friend Jesse Harms was a keyboard player in Sammy Hagar’s band and was also writing songs with Kevin [Cronin]. Gary [Richrath] wasn’t with the band anymore and they were looking for a guitar player. They didn’t want to put out a “cattle call” for people in LA, so Jesse mentioned me to Kevin and they gave me a few songs to see what I could do with them. I remember I went in on a Friday around 1 p.m. We played a few of the songs together and then played a little basketball. Then we went back in and jammed again until around 5. That was when they offered me a spot in the band. It’s a good story and was just meant to be.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Dave Amato by Clicking Here!

Very High Frequency: Joel Hoekstra Discusses VHF and New Night Ranger Album, ‘High Road’

Joel Hoekstra

It’s no secret that Joel Hoekstra is one the hardest-working musicians you’re ever likely to meet. The Night Ranger guitarist, who just celebrated the release of the band’s new album, High Road, also performs regularly as part of Broadway’s Rock of Ages and tours every fall with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Hoekstra also has unveiled a brand new project, VHF, which stands for the initials of band mates Todd “Vinny” Vinciguerra (drums), Joel Hoekstra (guitars) and bassist Tony Franklin (the Firm, Kenny Wayne Shepherd).

Co-produced by Joe Floyd and Tommy Kessler (Blondie, Rock of Ages), VHF’s debut release, Very High Frequency, which was released June 20, isn’t a shred record by any means. It’s full of trippy, groove-inspired rock that’s been built from the ground up.

I recently caught up with Hoekstra and got an update on Night Ranger, VHF and the secret to mastering his two-handed technique.

GUITAR WORLD: High Road reminds me a lot of the classic Night Ranger sound. Was the intent going into this album to pay homage to those early records?

We just wanted to be ourselves and were able to find a nice balance of sounding like the classic Night Ranger while giving ourselves the leeway to express some our influences. We’re still a rock and roll band who likes to create new music and give our fans something they’ll appreciate. It’s an honor for me to be a part of it.

What else can you tell me about the new album?

There’s really something for everyone on this record, and a lot of it starts with Jack [Blades], Brad [Gillis] and Kelly [Keagy] together. “Knock Knock Never Stop” is really a good example of that. It’s got that signature Brad Gillis riff in it. “Rollin On” is another song that started out with a bluesy-sounding riff. I think you can hear a little bit of Brad’s Hendrix influence on that one. Eric Levy and I are involved as well. Eric came in with the ballad “Only For You Only” and I came up with the riffs for “I’m Coming Home.”

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joel Hoekstra by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Nita Strauss Talks Touring with Alice Cooper, Gear and Three-Guitar Attacks

Following the April premiere of Alice Cooper’s film, Super Duper Alice Cooper, at the Tribeca Film Festival and its subsequent on DVD, rock’s greatest showman is hitting the road as a “very special guest” during Mötley Crüe’s final “All Bad Things Must Come To An End” North American tour, which starts in July.

NitaStrauss

But the tour also will mark the debut of Cooper’s new guitarist, Nita Strauss, who recently was listed as one of GuitarWorld.com’s “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.” Strauss takes the place of Orianthi, who had toured with Cooper for the past several years.

Strauss — whose influences include Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Paul Gilbert and Shawn Lane — has already made her mark with the Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale. She’ll now join Cooper’s three-guitar attack, joining fellow six-stringers Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen.

I recently spoke to Strauss about the upcoming tour, her gear and how she got her start.

GUITAR WORLD: Tell me how you got involved with this project.

Kip Winger was the one who actually connected the dots. We met each other on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, where he saw me play. He later heard through the grapevine that Alice was looking for someone, so he sent them a few links and videos of me performing. I was then introduced to Shep Gordon [manager] and Bob Ezrin [producer] who sent me over a few tracks to learn and from there. Everything just seemed to fall into place. I’m so honored and excited to be a part of this project. It’s hard to put into words.

What was it like when you first met Alice?

I first met Alice in LA when he was recording some material for his new album. Ezrin called and asked me if I’d like to come down to the studio and meet him. So I went down and got to sit in the studio for Alice’s recording session. He’s such a cool guy. The whole experience was pretty incredible.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Nita Strauss by Clicking Here!

The Long Run: Don Felder Talks Soundtrack of Summer Tour, Eagles Highlights and More

Felder

Former Eagles guitarist/songwriter — not to mention multi-Grammy winner — Don Felder isn’t one to simply rest on his laurels.

In addition to penning his best-selling memoir in 2008, Felder’s most recent album, 2012′s Road to Forever, has done incredibly well on the classic rock charts and recently was re-released as an extended-edition package with four additional songs.

Felder is out on the road now with Styx and Foreigner in what’s being billed the Soundtrack of Summer tour. The jaunt coincides with the release of a new album of the same name. It features a collection of hits from the bands, and finishes off with a brand-new interpretation of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”

I recently spoke to Felder about the Soundtrack of Summer tour, his early years with the Eagles and much more. Check out the interview below.

How did the Soundtrack of Summer project come about?

I’ve known the Styx guys for many years. We’ve done many benefits together in the past and started doing some shows together. Tommy [Shaw] and I became good friends, and he even volunteered some of his time to writing lyrics and singing on my last CD, Road to Forever. So when the idea for doing a Styx and Foreigner tour came up and my name was mentioned, I said “Absolutely!” The catalog of these three bands is just magnificent. I’m excited to be a part of it.

What can fans expect from your set?

I do some of the Eagles songs I recorded and played live with the band for 27 years. Songs like “Hotel California,” “Heartache Tonight,” “Those Shoes” and a version of “Seven Bridges Road” that we used to do with the Eagles years ago. We even do a version of my song “Heavy Metal,” which was something the audience used to yell out for us to do during the Hell Freezes Over tour [laughs].

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Don Felder by Clicking Here!

REO Speedwagon Rocks Penn’s Peak In SOLD OUT Performance

REOSpeedwagonIt didn’t take long for REO Speedwagon front man Kevin Cronin to make the announcement. After completing the band’s third song of the evening – the monster hit “Take It On The Run” from their ten-million selling “Hi Infidelity” album – Cronin took to the mic to announce that the band had recently been self-anointed the Kings Of Classic Rock.

Although obviously made in jest it’s hard to argue the fact, based upon the evidence that was presented at last night’s SOLD OUT show at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA.

REO Speedwagon has always been notorious for bringing one of the most magical, high-energy shows around, but the band’s performance last night seemed more like a musical revival than a typical rock concert – and REO preached the gospel as fans were treated to music spanning the length of the band’s 40+ year career.

Kevin Cronin surveys the kingdom. (Photo by REO Speedwagon).

Kevin Cronin surveys the kingdom (Photo by REO Speedwagon).

Front man Kevin Cronin’s vocals never seemed to waver – singing the same songs he’s been performing since the mid 1970′s with both gusto and perfection. For a man who has written an arsenal of classic rock favorites over the years, he’s still at the top of his game.

Kevin Cronin, Bruce Hall and Dave Amato deliver the goods!

Kevin Cronin, Bruce Hall and Dave Amato deliver the goods!

Guitarist Dave Amato, who just celebrated 25 years with REO is a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he make fellow guitarists (like me) drop their jaws at his playing and collection of Les Pauls and Fender Stratocasters, but he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

A dapper Neal Doughty performing 'Roll With The Changes'

A dapper Neal Doughty performing ‘Roll With The Changes’

Keyboardist Neal Doughty remains the sole member of the band’s original line-up since its formation in 1967, and one of the most magical moments of the evening came when Cronin introduced him before Doughty began playing the opening intro to their smash-hit “Can’t Fight This Feeling”.

Drummer Bryan Hitt doesn’t miss a beat – literally. Whether he’s playing the intro to “Don’t Let Him Go” or wailing away on the gong while surveying the landscape, there’s no one who can deliver the back beat for REO better than Hitt.

REO is also well-known for unleashing its classic rock heavy artillery towards the end of the set and last night was no exception. Following an audience participation request by Cronin, bassist Bruce Hall took to the mic for the anthemic “Back On The Road Again”.

Bryan Hitt shows 'em how it's done.

Bryan Hitt shows ‘em how it’s done (Photo: Lisa Cuvo)

Following another staple of 70′s radio – “Roll With The Changes”, the band came back for an encore of their first #1 hit (“Keep On Loving You”) followed by Cronin’s infamous “Last song people” announcement before launching into a rousing finale of “Ridin’ The Storm Out” – complete with sirens!

I’ve seen REO Speedwagon more than a dozen times since the mid-80′s. From small-town college gymnasiums and theaters to large outdoor theme parks and music festivals. Each time, they just seem to get better and better. But last night’s show at Penns Peak was more than just another sold out, high energy performance by classic rock royalty. It was a kinship of music lovers celebrating the career of a band they love – and one whose songs have helped them through both good times and bad.

As one of the 1,800 loyal subjects who surveyed the REO Speedwagon kingdom last night, I am pleased to report that our future is in good hands.

Long live the kings.

REO Speedwagon Set List (Jim Thorpe, PA)

Don’t Let Him Go
Music Man
Take It On The Run
Keep Pushin’
Golden Country
Can’t Fight This Feeling
That Ain’t Love
Tough Guys
Like You Do
Keep The Fire Burnin’ (Acoustic)
Time For Me To Fly
Back On The Road Again
Roll With Changes

Encore:

Keep on Loving You
Ridin’ The Storm Out

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 230 other followers

%d bloggers like this: