Chicago and REO Speedwagon Bring a Midwestern Classic Rock Showcase to Austin
Photo Credit To © 2018 Jim Chapin Photography
Chicago and REO Speedwagon Bring a Midwestern Classic Rock Showcase to Austin

Chicago and REO Speedwagon Bring a Midwestern Classic Rock Showcase to Austin

Chicago and REO Speedwagon with Michael Tolcher
Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX
July 1, 2018
Review and Photography by Jim Chapin

You can’t blame the guys in Chicago for trying.

Chicago at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/1/2018. © 2018 Jim Chapin PhotographyTo celebrate their classic second album “Chicago II” being considered for the Grammy Hall of Fame, the band played its the album in its entirety. From the first song to the last. In order.

This has become a bit of a trend for bands who’s recording days are behind them. Some have seen great success with this formula while others, not so much. Unfortunately, for Chicago, they fall into the latter category.

Don’t get me wrong. The album is a bonafide classic, having propelled the band to the top of the charts with stellar songwriting and fantastic musicianship. At the time, the horn-fueled opus was amazing. But we are no longer in 1970. And many of the fans that grew up and internalized that album are no longer of this earth.

Chicago at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/1/2018. © 2018 Jim Chapin PhotographyAlthough this was advertised, it was obvious that many didn’t get the memo. People just seemed confused. While they were certainly enjoying themselves, many looked impatient to hear a song they knew.

Did I mention that this was a double album? Yes. This went on for a half hour before the first actual hit was played, “Colour My World.” The crowd came to life, having recognized a song. Unfortunately, the party was short-lived when it was followed up with 6 more lesser-known tunes before closing out the first set with “25 or 6 to 4”.

I get the allure of this for the group. Having toured extensively playing the same hits night after night for way too many years, stretching out and playing something new and challenging is a sweet temptation. But for the audience, it doesn’t hold up. At least not in the big amphitheater environment while sharing a bill with another of Rock’s hit-making bands. Perhaps if the band set out on their own, with no opening act, and played in intimate theaters this would translate better.

Chicago at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/1/2018. © 2018 Jim Chapin PhotographyHappily, this all changed for the second set, as every song they played was a hit. The wait seemed to be worth it as they sang along and cheered each tune. The group delivered knockout versions of classic Chicago tunes “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “Questions 67 & 68,” and “Saturday in the Park,” along with their adult contemporary radio hits “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “You’re the Inspiration.”

Overall, the group sounded terrific. And they genuinely looked like they were having fun. The musicianship was stellar and, song choice notwithstanding, it was a night that was enjoyed by all.

CHICAGO PHOTO GALLERY

chevron-right chevron-left

Click to View Full Images

CHICAGO SETLIST: Chicago II: Movin’ In, The Road, Poem for the People, In the Country, Wake Up Sunshine, Make Me Smile, So Much to Say, So Much to Give, Anxiety’s Moment, West Virginia Fantasies, Colour My World, To Be Free, Now More Than Ever , Fancy Colours, Memories of Love, Where Do We Go From Here, It Better End Soon, 25 or 6 to 4 Hits: Introduction, Beginnings, Questions 67 & 68, If You Leave Me Now, Dialogue (Part I & II), Call on Me, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, You’re the Inspiration, I’m a Man (The Spencer Davis Group cover), Street Player, Just You ‘n’ Me, Hard to Say I’m Sorry / Get Away, Saturday in the Park, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

REO Speedwagon at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/1/2018. © 2018 Jim Chapin PhotographyWhereas Chicago had the crowd confused, REO Speedwagon had them eating out of the palm of their hand. Frankly, The boys in REO should really be closing the show as these guys know how to work an audience. They understand that the people were here for the hits and to be swept away to a simpler time singing along to the soundtrack of their youth.

Vocalist Kevin Cronin and the guys in REO looked like they were truly having fun. And this translated directly to the audience. Guitarist Dave Amato and Bass player Bruce Hall worked both sides of the stage, smiling from ear to ear.

They sounded strong as they played hit after hit from the opening chords of “Don’t Let Him Go” to the megahits from their 1981 album “Hi-Fidelity such as “Take It on the Run” and “Keep on Loving You.”

REO Speedwagon at Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX 6/1/2018. © 2018 Jim Chapin PhotographyOn more than a few occasions, Cronin would step back and let the audience sing. And sing they did. Every word memorized from years of repetition.

And yet the band still knows how to shake things up a bit, as evidenced by bassist Bruce Hall’s turn on the mic with “Back on the Road Again” and on the night’s closer, a joyous cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Listen to Her Heart.”

REO Speedwagon seems to be constantly touring and if this show is any indication, they will not be slowing down anytime soon.

REO SPEEDWAGON PHOTO GALLERY

chevron-right chevron-left

Click to View Full Images

REO SPEEDWAGON SETLIST: Don’t Let Him Go , In Your Letter, Keep Pushin’ , Can’t Fight This Feeling, Tough Guys, That Ain’t Love, Take It On The Run, Time for Me to Fly, Back on the Road Again, Ridin’ the Storm Out, ENCORE: Keep On Loving You, Roll With the Changes, Listen to Her Heart (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)

Singer-songwriter Michael Tolcher opened the show with a solid performance.

MICHAEL TOLCHER PHOTO GALLERY

chevron-right chevron-left

Click to View Full Images

About the Author and Photographer

Jim Chapin
Freelance Live Music, Editorial & Event Photographer, Writer and Graphic Artist currently living it up in Austin, Texas - Live Music Capital of the World!
Jim Chapin on FacebookJim Chapin on InstagramJim Chapin on LinkedinJim Chapin on Twitter