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REO Speedwagon on Cruise Control

REO Speedwagon
Walworth County Fair
Elkhorn, WI
Sept. 1, 2002
REO Speedwagon

Review by Sheldon Burrow
Photos by Terry Mayer

REO Speedwagon set the cruise control on and made a short stop at the Walworth County Fair last Sunday night. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Kevin Cronin looked fit, sporting shortly cropped hair with some streaky blonde highlights. The band surprisingly opened up with their monster hit "Ridin' the Storm Out." The giddy grandstand, full to the brim, started to dance wildly. It was a good choice to pull out this classic right out of the gates. The audience would now be in great spirits for the rest of show. Other hits like "Keep on Lovin' You" and "Roll With the Changes" had keyboardist Neal Doughty and bassist Bruce Hall beat the classic rhythms with a newfound lust.
REO Speedwagon, who in the late 70s and early 80s would fill stadiums across the country, now must play the local fair to earn a living. That is the curse of a band who hasn't had a hit song in nearly 15 years. The sound quality was less than spectacular, whether due to an open air environment or the lack of an adequate sound system. The band was able to offset this setback with a collective burst of sustained energy. The show's high point was when the boys blew the dust off of some rarely played gems in "Tough Guys" and "In Your Letter" from the Hi-Infidelity mega selling album. A short acoustic set, beginning with "In My Dreams," had Cronin doing some spirited fret work which tended to lull the crowd until the entire band kicked in the groove and blasted the riffs of "Time for Me to Fly." The group seem uplifted by the warm Wisconsin audience and performed a double encore and finished with an animated version of the classic "G-L-O-R-I-A."
REO might be relegated to the county fair circuit now, but their timeless music continues to live on for everyone who remains young at heart.

REO Speedwagon

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